In Review: Savage Dragon #239

One can never go wrong with the Dragon.

The cover: Running at the reader is Malcolm Dragon with wife Maxine holding onto his neck (and Jack holding on to mom’s foot as tightly as he can). Behind this family rushing forward are the members of Freak Force and Dragon children Tyrone and Amy. Behind the characters is a yellow background that makes the red logo pop and the many colored costumes of the characters look fine. This illustration could be used on any cover of this series, but it still looks cool. Erik Larsen scores again. Overall grade: A

The story: The title of this tale is “The Deadly Demonoids!” and they do cause some havoc by the end of the issue, but the majority of this issue deals with Maxine’s sexual addiction. The story by Erik Larsen begins very humorously with Malcolm being the aggressor in bed; now that his legs have regrown (Well, partially) he’s ready to resume sex. The problem is that everything below his waist hasn’t returned to its original size, but Maxine does what to she can to make him happy. Meanwhile across town, Norm Spiegelman decides it’s time to take matters into his own hand for revenge and injects himself with a familiar substance. Angel makes an appearance on the street before the press, who have obviously ambushed her. She confirms that she was saved from death by receiving an infusion of Malcolm’s blood, but the only reason she survived the process was because she already had super powered abilities. If anyone else injects themselves with the blood, they’ll blow up. She tries to reassure the press and the gathered crowd that “Yes, the doctors will be studying its properties, and we all hope it can help cure others…but it’s playing with fire.” One onlooker (who made me so happy) gives a two word response that sums up everyone’s opinion. The villainous Scourge makes a one page appearance as well, showing that he’s making a power play among the criminal elite. Back at the Dragons’, Spiegelman shows up and his battle with Malcolm ends surprisingly quickly. It’s from this point on that Malcolm discovers some stories and pictures online and his relationship with Maxine seems to have taken a turn. He’s had no problem with his wife’s voracious sexual appetite before, but the Internet has changed things. This does seem like a sudden change, but he is confronted with her exploits going public. How he ends their conversation has both of them seeming as though they’re now done as teens and starting to become more mature. Malcolm next goes on television and things do not go well there. Now if one is wishing that the drama would take a back seat to the some action the title villains do appear and a battle begins. However, one character ends the issue with a cliffhanger. I love the action in this book, but the drama is equally entertaining. The characters are always a joy. Overall grade: A

The art: Erik Larsen has been an artist whose work I’ve enjoyed since first encountering it long ago. This issue continues to reinforce my love of his visuals. The opening page is a full-paged splash that may look as though it contains a threat, but long time readers of the series will know instantly what’s intended to occur. The first panel on the second page had me laugh out loud. I’m continually impressed with the bizarre visual levels of recovery that Larsen puts his lead through. The third page starts with a vertical panel that Larsen employs often and he always makes them work well. Notice how the eye begins with the Sex Doll, encounters pieces of other mechanoids, and ends on Spiegleman in a wheelchair shooting up. The four panels that happen after are a good tease of what’s occurring without being overly explicit. The final panel on the page is a good visual to show the emptiness of the man’s actions. A turn of the page and another vertical panel is used to start things off, this time with Angel getting the spotlight. These panels are always neat ways to introduce the characters fully to the reader. Scourge’s one page is great, with the fourth panel making me laugh as well. The full-paged splash on 6 is also funny, but also very cool, considering who is shown. The results of the battle on 8 and 9 are staggering: it’s over the top gross, but also very, very funny. The visuals sell this moment incredibly. 10 and 11 is a double-paged splash that’s awesome for details. I won’t spoil the location or what’s shown, but one could spend an incredible amount of time just taking in everything in this illustration and I’m sure not everything would still be found. 15 is another full-paged splash that shows all the characters getting ready for something and one character is placed in the foreground to show this individual’s separation from the group not only physically but mentally. The design of the individual speaking to Malcolm on 14 is frightening: face frozen in a smile, eyes little dots, and cheeks stretched out way too far. When the demonoids appear in the closing pages they look great and I’m looking forward to the next issue to see more of this fight. Overall grade: A

The colors: The first two pages by Nikos Koutsis, with flats by Mike Toris, start off with some neat muted colors to show readers that the location the characters are in is dimly lit. Very nice. The lack of colors for the background on the first panel on Page 3 allows the characters to stand out strongly. The four panels that follow this vertical panel use colors to tell the reader what’s occurring. Pages 8 and 9 are deliriously in red. It’s gross and extremely funny. The coloring on 10 and 11 also employs a lot of red, but also considerable oranges. Different shades of these colors have to be used to ensure characters don’t blend into each other. I like how the character in the foreground on 15 is shaded to allow the others to be noticed first, with this person drawing the eye for such muted hues. Excellent work from both men. Overall grade: A

The letters: I’m loving the titles of the stories that Ferran Delgado is creating for this series. They are always in big bold letters that resemble classic 1960’s Marvel comics. This one looks sensational. I also have to say the warble Malcolm uses for his final word on the page is just flat out fun. Delgado also creates the issue’s dialogue, editorial notes, sounds, yells, and the tease for next issue. Larsen created the text for the paper that becomes an important plot point. I am grateful that Delgado’s editorial notes are in a different font from the dialogue, visually alerting the reader that what’s being read is not a part of the normal story. The sounds are excellent, which always inspire me to read them aloud to enhance my reading experience. The tease for next issue is, again, classic looking. I’m loving Delgado’s work. Overall grade: A

The funnies: Scott Shaw! is the writer and the artist of “The Boy Without a Birthday!” that’s the sole backup. This eight pager also features colors by Toris and letters by Delgado. Li’l Dragon is not happy that his next door neighbor is continually whining about how things aren’t going right for her massive birthday party. He’s growing more and more annoyed by her noise until he spies a chocolate cake and must obey the dessert’s demand to be eaten. There’s an antagonist who’s equally annoyed by the birthday girl’s complaints and crashes the party with her oversized minion. There’s a quick scuffle that ends humorously. Shaw is an iconic artist who’s work has been strong for decades. There’s plenty of details in every panel for the reader to look at and find funny, though my favorite is the name of the birthday clown. Overall grade: A

The final line: Great drama and action are in this issue of Savage Dragon. I’m impressed with how Maxine’s urges are causing tension between her and her husband. The visuals are excellent and there’s a two paged sequence with the best use of crimson since The Evil Dead. One can never go wrong with the Dragon. 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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