In Review: Savage Dragon #243

Seeing Amy in action is awesome.

The cover: Amy Dragon delivers a powerful left to Celsius as she fights alone in this issue. Great cover from Erik Larsen that has one of the kids getting the spotlight. I love her pose and the reaction from the villain as he takes the blow. The yellows and oranges on the cover and villain proved an excellent background for the hero’s greens to pop. This looks like it’s going to be a fun issue. Overall grade: A

The story: This issue begins with two very different events: Malcolm trying to get the Ant to return to talk to the police and Maxine being attacked by the giant severed penis of Basilisk. Mrs. Dragon is knocked to the ground as the independent organ smashes its way into a bedroom where Baby Maddy is on the floor. The creature opens its mouth and swallows the tyke, prompting Maxine to rush the beast. This dramatic turn is put aside momentarily as two supporting characters are discussing their not-relationship. There’s an explosive conclusion to the beast’s feast, ending with a thankful reveal and Maxine not getting what she wants. Malcolm’s arrival after the action is funny and his befuddlement at what Captain Tootsie has brought him to help out around the house is fun. I can see Malcolm being a little too tempted by this assistant. Or would another Dragon be tempted…? I have to give some applause to writer Erik Larsen for what Tootsie says to end Page 9. The story then moves to the next day where Amy is attending a party for Walden’s daughter Anita. It’s good to see Amy get to go out and experience some of the things normal kids do. Naturally a normal outing doesn’t make for a good story, so Larsen has Amy and Anita discover someone where he shouldn’t be. It’s both cool and funny with what happens in spectacular Dragon fashion. The final page is a good cap on this adventure, with Maxine trying to make things return to normal. This was fun, but I’m concerned about Kevin. Overall grade: A

The art: Artist Erik Larsen opens things up with a neat splash page of Ant making her way up the side of a building. I like that the hero’s antenna cuts in front of the story’s title. It’s a really neat image of a character coming right at the reader. Pages 2 and 3 are a true double-paged splash that bleed off every edge. This shows Maxine avoiding being killed by the monstrous appendage. I like that pieces of door are flying at the reader and that the reader is reminded of poor Kevin’s fate as the lies in the bottom right corner. Four equal sized panels follow on the next page showing the creature’s size compared to Maddy and then the tot as seen from the creature’s maw. When the beast slams down on the baby it’s not graphic, as she’s engulfed in one gulp, but it’s still a frightening sight. I like that Maxine doesn’t hesitate to run to help her child. The point of view is good and the background is fully rendered, again including Kevin. The backgrounds continue to look incredible on Page 5 as a couple walk the snowy streets. The explosive energy in the first panel on 6 is fantastic, calling back on the furious energy of Jack Kirby. The second panel on 7 is heartbreaker, even if the character can’t clearly be seen; I bet several readers moved their heads so they could see around the corner of that border. The last two panels on the page have some great visual humor. I loved Malcolm’s raised eyebrow on the next page, which is absolutely appropriate. That last panel on 9 foreshadows possible temptations for Malcolm. Seeing the character in the last panel on 10 also holds some possible future troubles. Page 12’s fourth panel is grounded in reality, having seen many people participate in such a structure. I also like the chaos of the middle panel on 13, which, again, is so real. Celsius’s reveal on 14 has him wearing the most wackadoo clothing combination I’ve seen in a comic book and that’s saying something — I love it! When Amy goes into action at the bottom of the page it’s obvious that she will be a good heir to the Dragon mantle in the future. I’m often not a fan of silhouettes in comics, but when combined with the text, the third panel on 17 is hilarious in its composition. Pages 18 and 19 give Dragon fans the carnage that they look for each month as a building is destroyed and a baddie takes a beating. Seeing Amy in action is awesome. Overall grade: A

The colors: This issue has Nikos Koutsis on colors, with flats by Mike Toris. The book opens with the Ant absolutely taking focus with her crimson suit popping out against the blue and white snowy background. A turn of the page and stark reds for the sound effect slam the reader into the action. The motley skin of the monster draws attention next, with the reader then drawn to the pale flesh of Maxine’s leg that’s just barely in front of it. And I couldn’t look away from the violets in the bottom right corner. I love the light blues in the second panel on Page 4, teasing something for later. The explosions on 6 are incredible in white, blue, and violet. The colors are nicely toned down for a bedtime conversation between the Dragons, with bright colors ending the sequence on an ominous note. There are a lot of violets and yellows for Amy’s adventure. This allows her green skin to stand out on every page she appears. I have to applaud the choice of colors for Celsius’s suit before he goes into action. Overall grade: A

The letters: Not only does letterer Ferran Delgado does an explosive title at the top of the first page he places the credits on the wall that would do Will Eisner proud. I love when books place the credits into the architecture. The sounds, always a winner on this series, are especially explosive from the get-go with Maxine avoiding death on Pages 2 and 3. I like the whispered dialogue on the fourth page that leads immediately into a block lettered yell — very realistic. The massive sound on Page 6 starts as normal block letters but becomes jagged by the end, making the reader hear it as electrified. The dialogue that ends 7 is in the correct size and style. My favorite sounds of the issue are on 16 with WHOOSH! and WRAMM! being wonderful. My favorite whispered dialogue is on 17 which increases the humor of the situation substantially. The two word response in the last panel looks as it must feel. Delgado can do no wrong. Overall grade: A

The funnies: “When Fall the Mighty!” feature Mighty Man and Superpatriot together. Larsen is responsible for the story, Kamil “Kurt” Kochanski the art, Koutsis and Toris the colors, and Delgado the letters. This is a six page tale that shows how Betty is having a hard time being Mighty Man. She’s finding herself uncomfortable with all the killing that comes of her battles. Superpatriot reassures her that she’s doing the right thing, but the final battle, taking place against the recent fight with the demonoids, has her making a surprising choice. This places Mighty Man’s future in doubt. The artwork is spectacular because it resembles the style of one of my favorite artists, Kevin O’Neill. I’d buy a book by Kochanski if it looked like this!┬áThe inside back cover features Moonbeard by James Squires and Heck If I Know Comics by Charlie Higson. The first strip is okay, but the second made me giggle at its ghastliness. Overall grades: “When Fall…” A+, Moonbeard C+, and Heck If…A

The final line: The oldest Dragon child gets center stage as she unintentionally has to spring into action. The adult drama also continues, with a new character becoming part of the Dragon household and a couple close to making a decision. The story is fun and the visuals are engaging. Heck, even the backup story is terrific! This is a great book. 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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