In Review: Savage Dragon #235

An attempt is made to rescue Angel and Alex, while Buffalo Stu pounds Malcolm.

The cover: Erik Larsen has Malcolm feeling the pain as he’s rammed by Buffalo Stu. The hero is spinning off the page (Larsen does reactions to being hit better than anyone in the business) and debris is being kicked up in the street as the furry foe takes the hero out. In the background citizens can be seen fleeing, though faithful Maxine is visible on the right watching her husband take a beating. Great action cover that shows only part of what’s in store for the reader in this issue. Overall grade: A

The story: Freak Force has arrived at the portal to Dimension-X and has beaten down the guards that run it. This is revealed when Malcolm calls Marsha. She tells him they’re going in to get Angel Murphy, Jennifer Murphy, and Alex Wilde out. Malcolm is glad to hear that, but he’s worried about Freak Force, after all “…even if you didn’t kill anybody, you still broke into a government building and beat up a bunch of guys.” Malcolm is at the hospital with Maxine and their kids to see if Maxine’s mother Mei is going so survive the procedure to ensure her child, with Kevin, isn’t a superpowered baby “that’s likely to fry her mama or punch its way out of her belly.” Kevin says it looks as though mother and child will be okay. Writer Erik Larsen covers a lot of ground in these first four pages and he’s only getting started. Angel and Alex are mourning the death of Jennifer, that happened last issue, and something happens between the pair. A future danger is discussed by Malcolm and Maxine on Page 7 that has me hoping “it” evolves into trouble. Buffalo Stu does provide the main action of the issue, as his strength seems to be more than a match for Dragon. Just as it seems that Larsen has wrapped things up in a neat bow, the last page will leave readers wondering what’s coming next. Action, humor, and suspense make this a fun read. Overall grade: A

The art: This issue starts with a beautiful image of a happy Marsha Bradley answering her cell phone. Her smile is infectious and she’s framed with the series and story title at the top and the credits at the bottom. The layout alone calls back to the classic Marvel Comics of the 60’s. This innocuous image gives way to a staggeringly detailed double-paged spread on Pages 2 and 3 that shows the aftermath of Freak Force’s take down of the troops controlling the entrance to Dimension-X. Seeing Freak Force assembled on these pages is just awesome and the various poses of their foes, conscious and unconscious, is terrific. And the debris — Would you look at the debris? The broken concrete shows this battle was massive. Plus the tech in the background shows this to be an incredibly advanced facility. These pages are fantastic. But artist Erik Larsen is just starting. A turn of the page reveals Malcolm in a vertical panel that Larsen often employs to introduce characters. Accompanying it are five horizontal panels that show his family and Kevin. The camera crew that films their reality series is also present, reminding the reader that every aspect of the Dragon family’s lives is being recorded. Dimension-X is next visited and I am in love with what Larsen does for the skies in this setting. The odd array of planets, the stars, the strange cross-hatched constructs are wonderfully otherworldly. Buffalo Stu has a powerful introduction to this issue and I love the use of horizontal panels that can’t show all of his immensity. The full-paged splash on 10 shows this villain arriving on the scene for a showdown with Malcolm and the bodies sent spinning are as magnificent as the baddie; in the distance one can see that cars that have been hammered are only just beginning to hit the ground. Though it’s only one panel, I like that the Dragon children are more concerned with something other than their father leaping into battle. The full-paged splash on 12 is my favorite image of the book for the characters and setting; it’s just flat out fantastic. I also like how part of this issue has Dimension-X on the left side of the book and Malcolm and Buffalo Stu’s tussle on the right, showing events to be running concurrently. I fully admit to being a Larsen fan and he does not disappoint in this issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: Nikos Koutsis does the colors with Mike Toris doing the flats. The book begins with some neat coloring on Marsha on the opening page; take a gander at how easy it is to identify where the light source is for the character due to the coloring. It’s impressive the work done on the double-paged splash to have so many characters stand out against the background without becoming over the top. Well done! Dimension-X is easily recognizable to the reader for its harsh oranges and yellows, instantly giving it an inhospitable alien tone. When Dragon and Buffalo Stu fight the background is either a calm — misleading — blue sky or yellows to emphasize the power in each punch. As with the art, I love this book’s colors. Overall grade: A 

The letters: One of the joys of comic books are the letters, which can increase the strength of every word or action. Heck, the better books have sound effects that when read aloud make the reader feel as if they’re participating in the adventure. Ferran Delgado is the issue’s letterer and he starts strongly on the first page with lettering resembling Marvel books from decades ago. In addition to this issue’s story title and credits, he creates the book’s dialogue, yells, editorial notations, sounds, and the tease for next issue. There’s a lot of dialogue on several pages, but Delgado is able to insert it without trampling on key components of the visuals. Yells are given different fonts and sizes to show the reader how extreme each bellow is. The sounds are tremendous and tons of fun; C’mon, you know you love SKRA-THOOM!, PLUDD!, and FRAKKA-ZAKK! Overall grade: A

The funnies: All of these are winners this month. “I Met Oogur From Outer Space!” (written by Carl Gafford, drawn by Frank Fosco, inked by James M. Daly, lettered by Susan Dorne, and colored by Adam Pruett) is a wonderful throwback to the alien/monster weirdness from Jack Kirby. The story is funny and the visuals are gorgeous. This was only three pages, but I wanted it to go on much longer. This story had me at “Nebbish!” Doctor Weird (written by G. Carlson & C. Eckner, art by M. Lewis & P. Tuller, colors by A. Pruett) has the supernatural character saving lives and encountering the Dragon. This was another slick story for only three pages. Again, I would have been really happy if this had gone on longer. The visuals on this are also terrific, capturing the look of a familiar Golden Age hero. Heck If I Know Comics by Charlie Higson is a six panel strip that made me laugh out loud because I’m an English teacher (of twenty-six years and counting). If I had a kid say what’s said in that fourth panel I would roll on the floor laughing. I’ll be sharing this one with my co-workers. Moonbeard by James Squires uses art that resembles Adventure Time and the story is about as subtle as that show gets. Needless to say, I really enjoyed this. The fifth panel made me giggle. Overall grades: All A

The final line: An attempt is made to rescue Angel and Alex, while Buffalo Stu pounds Malcolm. This is extremely fun with plenty of action and humor presented with enjoyable characters. The visuals are stunning with strong action, cool characters, and real and alien locales. The back up features are also terrific. Perfect comic book reading. 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.
    2 Comments on this post.
  • Matt Hickman
    14 July 2018 at 10:50 am -

    The back ups are Acttally reprints of old big bang stories

  • Patrick Hayes
    14 July 2018 at 3:16 pm -

    Thanks, Matt! Didn’t know.

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