In Review: Savage Dragon #237

A problem gets some discussion until the Scourge appears!

The cover: New villain Scourge is a giant as he holds Malcolm Dragon in his hand. The young hero looks as though he’s broken free from the villain’s grasp, but one can only know for sure by picking up a copy of this book and reading it! Great image of the bad guy, with his eyes freakish and his mouth a toothy fright. I’ve always enjoyed covers that show villains that tower over the hero. Even if this is only a symbolic cover, it’s fun. The violet colors are also really cool, giving the entire image a very alien feel. This is another neat frontpiece from Erik Larsen. Overall grade: A

The story: Mei Ling and Kevin introduce Jack, Tyrone, and Amy to their aunt Julia. As this is going on Angel and Dragon are having a discussion about Maxine. As readers have noticed over the last few issues, Maxine has been more infatuated with sex then ever before. Malcolm says it stems from her being killed and obtaining a state of bliss while in Heaven. She’s just trying to achieve that same state. Angel says that his wife has become an addict, but Malcolm doesn’t see anything wrong with his wife’s drive. Page 4 ends this conversation with a funny visual, albeit one for mature readers. Meanwhile at Genetech Laboratories, Crawfish Kettlecorn (That gets my vote for best character name of the year!) is an unhappy man. He’s the one responsible for creating Buffalo Stu who fought the Dragon in Issue #235. The board has decided to vote him out of the company; they can’t take the high level of risks for his projects any more. The two who tell him he’s being let go are surprised he didn’t break anything, as he’s prone to violence. Oh, if they only knew what would happen in a few pages. Erik Larsen has Malcolm finally discuss his wife’s constant need for sex, but whether he’s going to do anything about it seems questionable. Angel is the voice of reason in this conversation, but she’s not exactly immune to Maxine’s desires. It’s the arrival of Scourge and the chaos he’s causing in the city that gets the pair of heroes to end their discussion and into action, with the results not ending well for anyone. In fact, there’s a repercussion that occurs on 18 that’s shocking, momentarily. There’s been a lot done with the mortality of characters in this series lately and after the initial shock of what’s occurred, I was left nonplussed, because I’m assuming that this victim will bounce back. It has me wondering if the death of characters have been overused of late and that threat now lacks any punch. Death should always be a realistic threat in a superhero book, so maybe I’ve just gone numb from it all. This issue had plenty of drama, some solid laughs, and a big battle that ends surprisingly. Everything about this is fun, save a death that, given previous issues, doesn’t have an impact. Overall grade: A-

The art: Artist Erik Larsen looks to be having fun while making this issue, with the fun starting on Pages 2 and 3. These pages consist of 15 equally sized squares, with three crossing the gutter of the book. The images contain Angel and Malcolm’s heads as they have a conversation. There are enough variations to show the reader what each is thinking as they speak or listen to the other. The first panel atop Page 4 is a funny visual that surprised me and had me going back to take a look at the previous two pages to see if Larsen teased this punchline. He did. The format of 2 and 3 is revisited for the final six panels on Page 4 that follow the same layout that end with another funny, yet believable, punchline. The three pages that deal with Crawfish Kettlecorn are done in a nine panel layout and show two workers at Genetech speaking with and discussing the fired man. I like the way Larsen moves the point of view around, establishing the characters and their environment smoothly. I also like how Kettlecorn’s face is never seen. Very cool. When Malcolm and Angel go underground to briefly fight some foes horizontal panels are employed, giving a theatrical look to the visuals. I like that neither hero emerges unscathed from the battle; this makes the fight more realistic. The full-paged splash that introduces the Scourge is neat, with him coming at the reader. His tattered cape is a cool touch and the smoke rising from below indicates this reign of terror has begun. The battle with the villain is huge — but what other kind of battle could there be in a Larsen drawn book? Not only do the characters look great as they’re pounding each other, leaping about, or blasting one another, time should be spent looking at the backgrounds. Seriously, the city looks terrific and the debris that’s generated from the tussle is awesome. There’s a shocking visual on 18 that stopped the flow of the action because it’s that big a deal. Story-wise, I’m not taken by this, though the visuals cannot be anything but praised. Larsen’s visuals are great. Overall grade: A

The colors: The first page screams classic comic not only for the lettering, but the colors. I love the title of the book being red letters on a yellow banner. The title of the story is done in white letters on a violet banner. The light pinks for the background are a nice lead in to the visual of little Julia being introduced to the Dragon kids. The colors on Pages 2 and 3 tease the reveal at the top of Page 4. When Angel and Malcolm go underground to fight the colors are dimmed neatly to show a lack of lighting, though the villains they battle are easy to spot in red and orange. Scourge’s introduction to the reader shows him against a dark sky, but as the reader’s eye goes to the bottom of the page the colors become brighter, showing that he’s caused some type of damage that’s created flames. When the villain is attacked by the heroes the background goes yellow and orange to intensify the fighting. Throughout the book the sounds are colored brightly, making them sound strong to the reader. Nikos Koutsis provides the colors and Mike Toris the flats and they’re a great team. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ferran Delgado creates the story’s title, the book’s credits, dialogue, narration and editorial notes (the same font), signage, moans, sounds, yells, and the tease for next issue. The classic feel of the book occurs on the opening page with a glorious title and fantastic credits — I especially like the two words under Delgado’s name. I appreciate when letterers use a different font for narration and dialogue, as they are two different forms of communication. Having the editorial notes be the same style as the narration makes sense since they can come from the same speaker. The sounds are extra spectacular this issue with the battle with Scourge creating some epic noises, and there are some very creative ones when Maxine is having her way with others. Overall grade: A

The funnies: A time travelling action story penned by Larsen stars Daredevil and Superpatriot. “Save the Future!” has two assassins come from the future to kill two individuals that will doom their timelines if they continue to live. The story is illustrated by Billy Penn, colored by Dash Martin, and lettered by Ferran Delgado. Though only six pages, this was a fun read, with the action good, the dialogue fun, and the ending timely, regardless of what Larsen says on the letters page. The inside back cover features three strips. The first is Virgil’s Bar by Simon Mallette St-Pierre. I like the visual more so than the punchline, but I’d be willing to see more. Going vertically is Moonbeard by James Squires. I’m not a fan of the art or the joke. Draw Brandon Draw is by Brandon B. and it’s a joke that goes there. I’ve looked at this strip several times and I’m either laughing or shaking my head at my laughing at it. I liked the first six pages for these backups, while the inside cover didn’t work for me this month. Overall grade: B-

The final line: A problem gets some discussion until the Scourge appears! Drama, laughs, and plenty of action. Savage Dragon continues to be one of the most consistently entertaining comics on the market! 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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