In Review: Savage Dragon #224

Outstanding in every possible way. Highest possible recommendation of the week!

The cover: Maxine’s back is to the reader as she reaches out for Malcolm, but reality shatters, with each shard revealing a different history. She can see her husband kissing Angel, Mr. Glum looking shocked, her children flailing about, Thunder-Head reaching for her, and her own shocked face. Erik Larsen is truly reworking reality in this image, giving readers just a taste of what’s to be found within. Coloring the shards a pale red gives the image an ominous tone that’s symbolic of the action to come. Overall grade: A

The story: There is a monstrous battle occurring in the streets, with a horde of creatures that are emerging from a tear in space. Malcolm is pummeling several into submission, but Jennifer is beaten down. The arrival of Freak Force helps the heroes immensely. Meanwhile, Thunder-Head arrives just in time to use his body as a shield to protect Maxine from the walls around her that have collapsed. When the debris has stopped, Thunder-Head can’t revive her and her children appear to see the young mother cradled by Kevin. Down in the streets, the fighting continues, and it’s violent. The cause of all this woe, Mr. Glum, is in Darklord’s inner sanctum, trying to merge realities into SD75-30.1, Angel’s Earth. He believes that in doing so he will be able to get his version of Angel, the one that was in love with him, back. The problem is it creates chaos on Earth. This premise is going to have repercussions on this book. For starters, as the worlds merge, the characters can see every possibility of their lives played out before them. This is a terrific way for Erik Larsen to have the characters experience joy and pain at once, as well as tease some neat What If? scenarios. Characters see themselves as villains, murderers, married to others, or having dull and dreary lives. Naturally, Glum’s plans don’t work out as intended, as he has to keeping merging realities to get what he wants. Villains have always tried to altered timelines to suit their ends, but I’ve never seen it on this scale. The last two pages are a major shocker. As soon as I was done with this issue, I had to know what was going to happen next. The biggest compliment I can give to a writer is more. Mr. Larsen, more, please! Overall grade: A+

The art: When an artist allows his or her page layout to follow the theme of the story it can be fantastic. Artist Erik Larsen does this by making many panels of this book shaped like shards of glass to mimic the different realities uniting. Before he begins to do this, Larsen has some stunning action sequences, starting with five horizontal panels on the first page, detailing the battle against the masses. It’s some violent stuff, but, be honest, this is what every super hero fight scene should look like. The double-paged splash of Pages 2 and 3 herald the arrival of Freak Force into the issue and it’s a glorious arrival: SuperPatriot unloading both guns, Barbaric throwing a huge chunk of debris, Ricochet leaping into action, Horridus bounding in, and Mighty Man streaking into action like a god. It’s outstanding. For such a fearsome face, Kevin is a completely sympathetic character from his actions on 4, especially in those final two panels, and having the kids poke out their heads in the final panel is a gut buster. Glum’s panels are set up in six panels, three atop three, that are verticals; this is a good way to differentiate what he’s doing from all the action that’s occurring on Earth. It’s on 7 that the merging of worlds begins and smaller panels start to overlap the battle scenes, like broken pieces of glass. The images within these panels show the realities of other worlds and they overwhelm those of the Earth that readers are used to seeing. How these visions effect the characters are incredibly fascinating to see, such as two members of Freak Force on 7, Malcolm and Angel’s reactions on 8, and Kevin and Maxine’s on 9. These various sized panels contain no text, so the reader, and characters, is left to make a determination on what is being seen. This is where Larsen the illustrator really shines, creating images that have to tell a life time of backstory. The penultimate page has twelve panels on it and each one is key to showing a moment that will change one character’s future. The last page is a scream worthy finale, with several broken pieces of reality giving way to one predominate image. Outstanding. Overall grade: A+  

The colors: Nikos Koutsis is responsible for the colors, while Mike Toris does the flats. The colors on this book definitely contribute to the book’s tone. The fights in the streets are given the otherworldly background colors of yellow and orange to show how this battle is anything but normal. This allows Dragon flesh to stand out strongly, as well as have the sounds pop out. It is interesting to note that when Freak Force appears they blend into the battle well, but uber-powered Mighty Man’s color scheme has him stand strongly apart from all. The brightest colors occur on Glum’s pages, as his is the most normal reality that any of the characters are in, since he’s the one trying to alter things. The colors really shine when the fragmented realities appear, with each panel being offset from the action by being tinted pink. It’s the perfect color to separate the worlds. The colors on this book look great. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Sounds, yells, dialogue, and the tiny, final word of this issue hail from Chris Eliopoulos. Once again, Eliopoulos shows he’s a master of sounds, with them being practically nonstop with all of this issue’s actions. Considering how small some of the panels on this book are, such as on 19, it’s impressive to see that he can make all the dialogue a similar size and not step on the art. However, it’s the final word of the book, in an appropriately shaped dialogue balloon, is what readers will remember from Eliopoulos’s contributions to this issue. Overall grade: A+

The funnies: There’s two groaners and one full paged 3D illustration in this month’s installments. Truth Serum by Jon Adams has one hero sharing some familiar matters with another masked individual, while Draw Brandon Draw by Brandon B. has a bar patron learning something from a trucker. The first strip has good art, though it’s two panels repeated to equal six images, while the second has more typical strip artwork, with that fifth panel being funny before the punchline. Both cartoons made me laugh then groan. I couldn’t find a credit for the inside back cover, which features Malcolm punching out Glum to save Maxine and the kids. This, too, has cartoony art and I really like this style. Overall grade: A

The final line: Be careful what you wish for, Dragon fans. You wanted something major for the 225th issue? Erik Larsen is giving you something you’re not going to soon forget. Outstanding in every possible way. Highest possible recommendation of the week! 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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