In Review: Savage Dragon #228

If you're not reading this series, you are missing out on one of the great comics. Recommended.

The cover: The Great White North is experiencing a snowstorm which provides perfect cover for the Seeker to take out the Dragon. Malcolm throws himself to his right to prevent himself from getting impaled on the metal flyer the villain rides. I always get a little thrill from covers where the characters overlap part of the title; makes it seem that the action is so big it’s exploding off the page. Good cover from Erik Larsen that teases an actual scene from the book without giving anything away. Overall grade: A

The story: The Dragon family is trying to assimilate living in Canada, starting with getting some “culture” at the Hockey Hall of Fame. The kids are excited to go in once mom Maxine asks if they want to see some ice fights. Maxine is then shown talking with a friend about the pros and cons with a friend of their new country while the kids play in a ball pit. Malcolm is then shown at Crocodile Rock, trying to adjust to the beer. He’s with Kevin, who tells him he’s going to stick around since he’s persona non grata in the states. Malcolm asks if he’s heard from Angel, since she’s really into him. A turn of the page shows where Angel, Jennifer, and Alex are, continuing their trek through the closed off Dimension-X. Alex explains how the world went to hell while Jennifer was asleep, causing Angel to take offence. However, she’s taken aback when she comes upon a body. “Mom, that’s you–! And your’e dead!” Their plight is left unanswered for this issue as writer Erik Larsen turns to Malcolm exiting the hospital, due to Maxine’s request, who has a common itch she needs scratched a few panels later. In the meantime, a group of men have found something in the ice that’s not happy to see them. There are two solid shocks in this issue: first, Maxine and Malcolm having sex, which isn’t really a surprise, though the end result is and, second, how the fight concludes between Malcolm and the Seeker. They are both jaw droppers. There’s also a pretty humorous surprise on the final page that was teased early in the issue. My comment is the same as Maxine’s. Action, laughs, surprises, and some lovely scenery (No pun intended). What more could you want from a comic book? Overall grade: A

The art: Artist Erik Larsen does another slick job on this book, focusing more on the real world than the fantastical Dimension-X. Two locations are photo manipulations, but fit in fine with the rest of the book. I often dislike photo insertion into comics because it stands out so poorly, but Larsen makes it work, so I wasn’t taken out of the reading experience. The characters are the stand out images of this issue, with just a look on an individual’s face selling their dialogue or situation immensely: for example, Page 1, panel two; Page 2, panel four; Page 4, panel four; Page 9, panels three and four; Page 14, panels one and two; Page 17, panel five; and Page 20, panel three. I’m also really enjoying the close-ups of Kevin, who’s got one of the most interesting faces in this book…or maybe his mojo is working on me. Action lovers, don’t despair, a double-paged splash gloriously has the Seeker making a splash into the book, with Malcolm spiraling backwards incredibly. Page 16 has four equal sized panels that are cut from the Jack Kirby cloth of action excellence showing the Seeker and Dragon trying to take each other out. I can’t say enough about how the fight ends, but it’s a wowzer that would make Quentin Tarantino envious. The final page also has a memorable image, but not for the same reason. As I said in my review of the story, Maxine has taken the words right out of my mouth. At first I was shocked and then I thought, ‘Good for him!’ Larsen always makes the Dragon memorable. Overall grade: A

The colors: Nikos Koutsis does the colors with Mike Toris doing the flats. The emeralds of the Dragon and his children have them standing out on every page they appear, as does Kevin with dead blues. The colors go extraterrestrial for the one page in Dimension-X, with surreal oranges and reds dominating. Maxine and Malcolm’s flesh stands out on the pages where they’re intimate. I thought there could be coloring issues when the battle with the Seeker began because of all the snow falling and the snow covered settings. This was not the case; every inch of the art clearly stands out and the colors add a great depth to the illustrations. I really liked when the antagonist tried to blast Dragon and yellows dominated their panels. The sounds also are fantastically colored, making each explosion of sound stand out in a panel. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, and yells are what Chris Eliopoulos brings to this book and they are outstanding. There’s quite a bit of dialogue in some panels, but they never overpower the visuals. The sounds are a tour de force in lettering. Eliopoulos has always done sounds well, but now he can add BLAPPA-LORTCH! to his résumé, as well as RUNK!, THRA-KOOM!, and CHOOM! These noises are as equally powerful as the visuals. Overall grade: A+

Extras: G-Man Webcomics by Chris Giarrusso are three strips with the first two being pretty funny and the last one being okay. I’m dying to post the middle cartoon at my job’s workroom above the copier. Five pages from Graphic Fantasy, Larsen’s early work, are included. The inside of the front covers to Issues #1 and #3 are reprinted, a pinup of Prism, and a two page story titled “Domestic Tranquility” with the character and concept by Peggy Nahas with Larsen handling the story and art. These are followed by the final page’s pinup of Angel Murphy by Paul Hoppe surrounded by important characters in life. Not too shabby. Overall grade: B

The Funnies: Berkeley Mews by Ben Zaehringer is a solid strip that made me laugh. Tales From Rum Row, Part 3 by Andrew Maxwell and Luca Claretti with Ed Ryzowsi has the heroes getting out of one terrible situation and into another. How To Melt is by James Squires has minimalist visuals, but a another joke that made me laugh. Overall grades: A 

Back cover: A delightful Li’l Dragon by master illustrator Scott Shaw! decorates the back cover. Shaw never does anything but outstanding work and this looks great. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I feel like a broken record in reviewing this series, but when the quality is this consistently good, reviews are better served by summing things up simply: This is an highly entertaining comic with spectacular visuals. If you’re not reading this series, you are truly missing out on one of the great comics. 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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