In Review: Savage Dragon #227

A great jumping on point for new readers as the Dragons settle in Canada.

The cover: Malcolm has got on a white tee with Canada emblazoned on it as well as a maple leaf in red. He also has a leather jacket on and is holding a Labatt Blue beer. To his right is Jackson, wearing mittens, boots, and a red sweater with a maple leaf. Tyrone has got his left leg and he’s wearing a blue jacket, boots, mittens, and grey sweater with the iconic leaf. Wife Maxine is standing to Malcolm’s left, wearing boots, mittens, and a toque that matches her Maple Leafs sweater. She’s holding a hockey stick. Daughter Amy is sitting down, wearing mittens, jacket, and boots, chewing on a hockey puck. The entire family is on a pier with Toronto in the background, as evidenced by the CN Tower. The sky is an overcast gray, which allows the title to have some great reds that make it pop. A neat “Welcome to Toronto” is on the right side of the book resembling a passport stamp. This cover by Erik Larsen visually shows the official change of settings for this series. I love this. Overall grade: A+ 

The story: Government agents burst into the S.O.S facility to arrest all those that have been deemed as undesirables by the U.S. government. All are arrested, save Alex Wilde, Jennifer Murphy, and Angel Murphy who have entered Dimension-X to fight the menaces that have been plaguing Earth of late. The trio are effectively stranded in this inhospitable location. Meanwhile, Malcolm and his family are in a van that they presume is taking them to the facility to be tossed into Dimension-X. Maxine wants Malcolm to bust out and take the kids to safety. He doesn’t want to do that. Not helping their fears is that Jackson fills his diaper. The van stops and before the doors open writer Erik Larsen returns to the trapped women battling for their lives against rock monsters. The Murphys are fairly invulnerable to the creatures, but Wilde is a human who is only surviving because she’s wearing a power fist. This is a good entry point for new readers, while long time fans will enjoy seeing the Dragons trying to adjust to their new surroundings. I love the awkward adjustment to Canada, with Maxine going with the flow and Malcolm concerned about several things, like not having jobs. The supporting characters are really fun, such as the realtor showing them an apartment, the people at the party, and those who volunteer at the story’s end. If a reader is still as worried as Malcolm by the end, Maxine’s final words make everything good. It’s the women’s plight in Dimension-X that has me concerned. How will they get back? What else will they encounter? Will they survive? It is indeed ” A New Beginning” for everyone, but not a great one for that lost trio. Overall grade: A

The art: The book opens with a terrific shot of character Super-Tough pointing at one of scientists working at S.O.S. He looks awesome. Pages 2 and 3 is a double-paged splash of Alex, Jennifer, and Angel ambushed by rock monsters that are emerging from larger rocks. The teeth on these creatures instantly identify them as hostile. All the characters, good and bad, look great, but take a gander at the background behind them — that’s the visual definition of cosmic on those pages. Wow! The battle the women are later shown having with these monstrosities is terrific, with each woman getting a spotlight panel on 6. Malcolm first appearance in the book is on 4 and he is absolutely somber. The uncertainty on his face is fantastic. Malcolm and Maxine’s entrance into Canadian life begins on 11 and artist Erik Larsen moves among the characters and around the setting to give the dialogue a quick pacing. Better is the following page’s vertical panels, showing off their new surroundings and the characters’ reactions. I really like the angle of the third panel, showing how the kids are making things chaotic. Also neat is that Malcolm is starting to grow a mustache and beard since he’s not taking the time to shave, rushed as he and his family have been; this is such a cool detail in making this book look real. The most real page of the book is 16 which undoubtedly made Larsen want to return to cosmic settings. The visual best of both worlds is in this issue: Toronto and Dimension-X. Overall grade: A

The colors: Nikos Koutsis creates the colors and Mike Toris the flats for this book. Super-Tough and Daredevil stand out on the first page for their bright costumes. The settings are appropriately dull, it being a government center. This lulls the reader into a sense of complacency and doesn’t prepare them for the explosion of utter alien-ness of Dimension-X. I love the coloring on the rock creatures and the faded purples for the cosmic background. The stand out color is the white used for the teeth on the creatures. Each time the story goes to this location the colors are extremely bright, increasing the action of the artwork considerably. When the story reaches Canada, notice how the skies become a calming blue. The settings there have the expected normal colors of a city, which makes them completely contrast with the nightmarish splash of Dimension-X. Koutsis and Toris also get the best of both worlds. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, and yells are Chris Eliopoulos’s contributions to this issue. There’s a lot of dialogue for him to create when the Dragons get to Canada, but none of it overwhelms a panel or page. Sounds are stellar, as they always are on this series, when the women are taking down baddies. WRAMM! and CHOOM! were my favorites. Overall grade: A

The Funnies: One page is devoted to Chris Glarrusso’s G-Man Webcomics, featuring some funny commentary on what it means to draw a comic strip. FootForce gave me a solid laugh. There’s a double-page spread showing all the characters from Graphic Fantasy #1, including a key to the identities of each. Draw Brandon Draw by Brandon B. has a bizarre Eyes Wide Shut moment that left me flat, but the second part of Rum Row by Andrew Maxwell & Luca Claretti with Ed Ryzowski has an exciting and beautiful drawn action sequence. Overall grade: B+

The final line: A great jumping on point for new readers as the Dragons settle in Canada. It’s not just adjusting to their home, three supporting characters are trying to survive in Dimension-X. Fun story, terrific visuals, and Funnies, too! 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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