In Review: Savage Dragon #206

This is just flat-out fun comics done in the classic style.

The cover: Malcolm Dragon may have on his graduation robes, but he’s not going to stand on ceremony: if something big and bad comes his way, he’s going to leave the aisle and take the goon out. That’s exactly what looks like is about to transpire on the cover of this issue drawn by Erik Larsen and colored by Nikos Koutsis, with flats credited to Mike Toris. This is my first regular Dragon issue since #25 and I decided to return to this series based on this cover. I like the look of this obviously new Dragon. I also like how he’s making his way to battle an unseen monster, well — the creature’s hairy hands are shown. I prefer books where the issue’s villain isn’t spoiled on the cover. I also like the coloring, with the title standing out and drawing my eye. I like this. NOTE: My scan of this cover used for this review is much paler than the actual book. It looks much better than what is seen here. Overall grade: A

The story: Malcolm Dragon and girlfriend Maxine are bemoaning the closing of their favorite burger joint, Oscar’s. Maxine is especially upset, but before she answer her own rhetorical questions a giant monster bursts through the wall and the Dragon starts pounding him. The pair’s battle proceeds to destroy the establishment, but it was closing anyway. The reason why this monster appeared on the scene is fairly funny, with a nice similarity given to an iconic Marvel villain. The pair leave the rubble after the monster is taken away by the police and the scene moves to other characters in Dragon’s life. I haven’t read this series in 181 issues, so there’s a lot here that left me in scrambling for context. I didn’t feel too lost because creator/writer/artist Erik Larsen has got enough dialogue to clue me in as to who’s good, who’s bad, and who’s questionable. I did like the moment with Angel on 7; it put some buy-in into the character for me, and showed she wasn’t just the slugger that appears toward the end of the issue. I got the tease of upcoming plots on 8, though the names didn’t register. I had no clue about Page 9, but I think I know what’s on the computer. I liked the car ride; it’s short, but the conversation was fun and it could have gone on longer and I would have enjoyed it. I laughed out loud at the name of the beast that attacks Dragon on his way to graduation, and was glad to see this happening. Back in my youth, many, many years ago, whenever a super powered individual tried to attempt to do something normal, a villain would always appear and a fight would break out. Larsen delivers the same situation in this issue and I enjoyed it. This is was like reading a classic comic, but it’s all new. There’s also a seven page Marvelous Mighty Man story by Terrance Griep, Jr. This tale is the concluding chapter of the character’s battle with a villain who’s never named. This individual is trying take MMM’s power for himself. It’s a nice, quick adventure through time and across dimensions with a slick twist. Overall grade: A-

The art: I love Erik Larsen’s art. I always have. I’m such a fan, I bought two pages from his run of Doom Patrol from him back when the San Diego Comic-Con was at the original location. His artwork has got enough of a Jack Kirby vibe to pull at my memories of reading comics, yet his people and locations have his own unique style. For example, the opening page took me back to when this series began because of the hands and fingers: I instantly can tell that Larsen’s doing the artwork by looking at the characters’ hands. The double-pages splash on 2 and 3 is also pure Larsen. I love the raw look of the monster and the Dragon’s reaction to his entrance (to say this is an understatement just makes it all the cooler). The speed lines that appear behind the beast as it enters are terrific. What follows is a slugfest that thrills me to no end. It’s also a well choreographed fight; as opposed to some artists that have blank backgrounds as their characters fight, Larsen puts blenty of background and speed lines behind every punch, kick, or slam. This is how monstrous fights should always be drawn. The last panel on 3 has the crowd reaction shot that seems to be missing in most books. When Malcolm and Maxine leave the setting on 6 only a toppled sign shows where their beloved restaurant used to be. It’s a nice way to show damage without being overwhelmed by debris. Pages 11 and 12 put Larsen the artist in somewhat of a pickle: four characters are in a car driving to graduation. This doesn’t really provide many opportunities for face-to-face conversations, but Larsen moves the panel’s perspectives as expertly as any film director, making even this car ride entertaining. Maxine is laugh out loud funny at the bottom of 11. The final beast that attacks our hero is cool looking and the battle it has with the Dragon is great. I really like the electrical ability that this Dragon has; the way Larsen draws the energy coming out of him is fantastic. That pretty sums up my feelings on the visuals: fantastic. The Mighty Man story is penciled by Darren Goodhart and inked by Mike Matthew. The art emulates the best of Steve Ditko, with a healthy dose of Jim Starlin. It’s rough at times, but it does capture the Marvel style of the 1970s. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Nikos Koutsis provides the colors, with Mike Toris doing flats, and this pair does something that most hero books don’t do: things are colored brightly. It’s such a treat to actually see what’s going on in a super hero book. The entrance of the monster on 2 and 3 is an explosion in bright yellow. As the battle rages on, yellows make every figure stand out, from the creature’s oranges to the Dragon’s greens. The sounds are also strong in this sequence; after all, you have to read the big sounds during a big fight. Once the battle is over, the sky turns a calm blue and it provides a transition to the beach — very smooth. The arrival of the next antagonist has the yellows and oranges return, which instantly crank up the energy. My favorite page is 19 because of the blues, Battle Girl’s costume, and the greens that show up. Koutsis and Toris are doing as super a job as the characters are. Over in MMM, Adam Pruett does the coloring. He does a sensationally bright job on this tale, especially on the second page. The colors are exploding off the page in all the trippy weirdness of the 1970s. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Dialogue, signage, tee shirt writing, sounds, screams, robotic speech, growls, and yells originate from Chris Eliopoulos. There’s no denying that these are some of the coolest fight sounds ever put on a page. Want a cheesy good time? Read them aloud. These are terrific. Adam Pruett is also the letterer of MMM. He does the story’s title, credits, and dialogue. He does a fine job, though I suspect Goodhart did the sounds. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Okay, Mr. Larsen. You’ve roped me back in. Time to chase down the back issues I’m missing. This is just flat-out fun comics done in the classic style. Overall grade: A


Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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