In Review: Savage Dragon #219

You want action? You want fun? You want drama? And an 18 inch crimson alien uber-villain? You want Savage Dragon!

The cover: Malcolm solemnly escorts Mister Glum to court. The Dimension-X baddie bears his teeth as he walks, in prison yellows and handcuffs, to defend himself before a trial of his peers. The stark red of the cover makes this a strong frontpiece, with the characters popping of the page (not having any background also assists with this) and the color making the proceedings grim. Accompanied only by the text, “Mister Glum On Trial.”, any reader knows what they’re going to find within this issue, and nothing is spoiled! Another good cover from Erik Larsen. Overall grade: A

The story: This issue starts with one page devoted to summarizing why Glum is to be put on trial and it also shows why Glum is a loony. The dialogue that Erik Larsen gives to Glum is right up there with any iconic comic book villain, but the last panel injects an unbelievable amount of humor into the character as well. Having Glum’s lawyer try to calm him down so they can focus on his defense is also really funny. Where’s the Dragon? A double-paged spread on 2 and 3 has him taking down a group of anarchists who are trying to start trouble at a peaceful, though very vocal, protest against a certain President-Elect. Dragon solves the problem, talks to the crowd, and then it’s back to Glum’s cell, where the crimson antagonist has words for his lawyer…and sadly those words are applicable for what the Dragon was dealing with on the previous pages. Before the courtroom drama, Larsen has a telling scene on Page 6 that foreshadows some possible trouble in five supporting characters’ lives. There’s also some good action in Dimension-X that will effect actions on Earth. The courtroom scene starts small, with the prosecution laying out its case, which is pretty air tight, but then Glum gets to speak, since he’s defending himself and it’s one of the most entertaining presentations I’ve read. Why can’t Law and Order be this enjoyable? Making things extra fun is the entrance on Page 14 that begins an action sequence that goes until the book’s close. It’s a great fight with, again, the dialogue being equally as entertaining. This is so enjoyable that the word fun doesn’t do it justice. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first page is an excellent visual introduction to Glum done in six equal sized panels: the first has him in a super close up to the reader, making him seem omnipotent; the second has him pulling back and grinning at how the world was better under his rule; the third has him belittling the state of the planet, throwing a hand defiantly at the reader; the fourth has him anguishing over his fall from power, looking toward the heavens as if it were their fault; the fifth has him beginning to rant about the Dragon, with his insanity fully showing; and the final panel is a hilarious period on the page with his size shown against his lawyer and the cell he’s in. Take away the text and a reader would know from the visuals how mad this peewee is. The double-paged splash of 2 and 3 has Erik Larsen demonstrating a massive fight that he excels at. The Dragon is beating down some monstrous foes in the foreground, while behind them a crowd of protesters and the city can be seen. This is a “WOW!” visual. No one does bodies being tossed about like Larsen and I love seeing Malcolm’s foes flying in every direction, and Larsen has them going off at every possible angle. Again, I love this! The majority of this issue is told in the six panel layout that Larsen began on Page 1, but there are two more splash pages that are absolutely necessary given their epic natures, and when the action begins in the last third of the book the layouts go to five panels with one panel stretching across the page to better show the action occurring. My favorite page of the book is the penultimate because it showcases so much action in the classic superhero mode; plus I’m a sucker for fights in the sky. Every page has something interesting to look at, even the court scenes. Just awesome. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Nikos Koutsis does the colors, which began from flats by Mike Toris. Savage Dragon is a book I look forward to for many reasons, and the colors are definitely one of them. Many hero comics are dark and depressing in their hues, but, thankfully, this team knows that colors can be big and bold and the story can maintain serious scenes with them. The opening page is a good example of this: if one is unfamiliar with Glum’s size, the coloring on him has the half pint as a strong threat, with his red face and stark white eyes and teeth. His prison mustard yellows give him a third world dictator feel. In the courtroom, Glum’s reds make him a focus for the reader every time he appears. The double-paged splash have the characters in the foreground darkened to show their distance from the brighter colored crowd, giving the protesters a vibrant living feeling, while the monsters are part of a “dead” issue. Page 6 is glorious in its bright colors that fit an outside setting, while Dimension-X is given hellish otherworldly yellows and reds. During the fight scene, the sounds are also bright, in yellow or orange, making the sounds explode off the page. Koutsis and Toris add to this book’s enjoyment immensely. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, exclamations, chants, yells, a scream, and sounds are created by Chris Eliopoulos. The last panel on the first page shows how subtle changes in the font of Glum’s ravings provide the reader the right path to properly “hear” the mini-madman. The POW! that punctuates his speech is like a punchline, and it helps the humor wonderfully. The sounds on this book are tremendous and so epic that they often go beyond the borders of the panel that they occur in. This sounds like such a simple thing, but it really makes each clash of characters sensational. POOT! and PLUDD! are my favorites in this issue. Overall grade: A+

The preview: Not only is Chris Eliopoulos an extremely talented letterer, he’s a sensational storyteller and cartoonist. The final seven pages of this issue feature a preview from his book Cosmic Commandos which comes out on July 4 of this year. Without spoiling anything, I’m going to be extremely vague: this snippet shows the two brothers who have to do battle with a videogame character. Both boys’ personalities are crafted smoothly, their abilities are shown (with one’s contributions being refreshingly different), and a foe is fought. I’ve enjoyed Elipoulos’s shorts that have appeared in Savage Dragon and I really enjoyed his story in Poe Dameron #1, so I’ll be eagerly awaiting this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: You want action? You want fun? You want drama? And an 18 inch crimson alien uber-villain? You want Savage Dragon! Always recommended! Overall grade: A+

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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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