In Review: Savage Dragon #220

One character is freed, while another is taken in this successful outing.

The cover: Angel is wearing a costume that’s not hers as she lays down the smack on several monsters. This Erik Larsen cover showcases one of two stories in this issue and Angel’s is the one with the most action. She looks incredibly powerful punching out these mutant bad guys. I always like when some part of the cover goes over the title to give it a 3-D effect and this looks cool, with Angel’s left hand leading the reader to the hero. The coloring is also good, as the rusted reds and oranges put the spotlight on the brighter hues on Angel. Overall grade: A

The story: Somewhere in a dimension obviously different from our own, Angel wakes up. Looking about, she realizes where she is and begins to plead, “No! No! No! No! This can’t be! Oh, God! Oh, God! Please, no!” Standing up and taking a few steps she realizes “This is Glum’s world.” The story then returns to our world where Dragon, the original, is told that President Obama’s last official act was to pardon him. He’s incredibly happy to leave jail, but that joy soon turns to concern when he realizes he won’t be able to walk out with the clothes he came in with: “Dropped a few pounds since then.” This story by Erik Larsen neatly goes back and forth between Dragon’s readjustment to leaving prison and Angel’s exploits on Glum’s planet. Both are equally fun. I haven’t been a fan of Maxine ever, but here she really came off at her best, expressing concern (Page 6 after an incredibly funny Image-centric joke) and acting like a real tired mom (15). I really like how Dragon quickly changed the topic on 9 to Malcom’s family, showing that the problems that the country is going through really aren’t as important as those he cares for. It made him seem more real. Angel’s story is the harrowing one for the issue, undergoing conflict with the monsters that populate her environment and dealing with psychotic Glum. Her interactions with him were perfect and that Page 19 has a gut punch! If a reader thinks Glum to be a comedic character at this point, he or she is in for a shocking turnabout; the final panel on the page has quite possibly the saddest response given by a character in this series’ history. It is a heartbreaker! Overall grade: A

The art: The scenes on Glum’s world are vertical panels and they instantly transport the reader to another place just with their layout. The second panel on the first page nicely sets up the reader for an experience off world. The first of two full page splashes occurs on 2. This shows Angel waking up. She looks beautiful, young, and vulnerable, given the outfit she’s wearing. This is a great way by Erik Larsen to throw the reader off, thinking that Angel is going to be helpless in this alien setting. Take a look at Page 3 to see how Larsen furthers this false characterization: in every panel Angel gets smaller and smaller, with the setting getting larger, almost swallowing her. This is the perfect set up to pull the rug out from the reader later in the story. When Angel does go into action, it’s a quick battle readers expect from her, but when another force enters the fray it’s an excellent surprise in attacks that precede an entrance. 14 has the other full paged splash, revealing the character, but it was Angel who stood out for me, having the same face she had when she was surprised as a child, and this entrance definitely surprises her! The grin that appears on Dragon’s face on 4 is something that hasn’t been seen for a while in this book and it’s a million dollar smile. He flashes it again on 9 and 11 and one can’t help be consumed by the joy he has at being out of jail. The final page has Malcolm and Maxine having an overdue moment of intimacy, and Larsen shows that Malcolm is more concerned for his father than Maxine. It continues to be a pleasure to read a comic where the visuals are always by the same outstanding artist. Overall grade: A

The colors: Mike Toris provides the flats and Nikos Koutsis the colors on this issue. They do an amazing job with the colors of Glum’s world. Yellows and oranges dominate, with pinks occasionally appearing. This combination of colors makes the world seem like it’s stuck in permanent autumn, as if it’s dying. This also allows for Angel to really stand out on a page, with her patriotically colored costume and ample amount of pink skin showing. When the other character arrives, he, too, stands out strongly. When the pair venture underground, the colors go to blue and violet, adding a touch of sadness to proceedings, which supports the dialogue. The colors of Dragon’s world are much more realistic, but with the neon green on father and the darker green on son, this pair stand out on every page they’re on. Maxine also draws the eye because of the red sweater she wears. Toris and Koutsis deliver the goods every month on this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: A moan, dialogue, sounds, and yells are crafted by Chris Eliopoulos. Everything he does is excellent, with his sounds making the actions of this book incredible looking and fun to say out loud. Who doesn’t enjoy a good TZOW! or THRA-CHOOM!? Overall grade: A

The Funnies: The final seven pages are made up of “The Knight Watchman” by Tom King, with script by Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker, art by John Thompson, colors by Adam Pruett and Anthony Cuizon. This story is done up like a classic golden age comic, with the premise being millionaires committing suicide and only the Knight Watchman can discover why. The dialogue has some fun lines, such as in the fifth panel on Page 2 and the hero’s final words to the villain. The art resembles an iconic super hero’s look, instantly aging the story. Helping the art were the faded colors, dating it in the distant past. It’s a fun seven pager and I wouldn’t mind getting more of KW’s adventures. Overall grade: A

The final line: One character is freed, while another is taken in this successful outing. The story has got solid character moments, fun laughs, and a dramatic ending. The visuals never fail to disappoint with warmth and power. Savage Dragon is an entertaining book. 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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