In Review: Savage Dragon #245

Malcolm encounters a heavy metal foe, while drama with Maxine continues.

The cover: Hovering effortlessly above the city, the Chained Man has ensnared Malcolm Dragon, who’s upside down and doing all he can to escape his bonds. Cool looking cover that clearly shows the villain of the issue and what he can do, while also showing that the links are too tough for Malcolm to break. The colors are snazzy with the orange-yellow sky adding to the ominous nature of the illustration. Plus, the Chained Man is really different looking; simple, yet freaky. Another winner from Erik Larsen. Overall grade: A

The story: Writer Erik Larsen wastes no time starting this issue with Malcolm in chains upside down. There’s an awesome quote in the bottom left. The next two pages show the Chained Man hurling the hero into the sidewalk with pedestrians scrambling for safety. The villain states, “Do not interfere in matters which concern you not, mortal. I walk the earth once more to right a grievous wrong. I have returned to punish the guilty — to bring my killers to justiceand avenge my own death!” The Dragon throws some great sass at the antagonist, who again throws the hero, but also takes the time to direct more of his chains at a man and kill him. This angers Malcolm, who realizes that his tangled state could be an advantage. He makes a clever move on the fifth page, though what it results in on Page 6 is a good surprise. Where Malcolm heads on the next page isn’t really a surprise, though what happens in panels 9 – 12 are: one for what happens and two for what someone says at the end. Maxine enters the issue on 13 and things take a turn in a disgusting location, but the characters are remaining true. The Chained Man is then shown wrecking havoc elsewhere before the Dragon has his final confrontation with the supernatural character that has several good twists. I was glad that this wasn’t a predictable tale of a character who is a vexing vapor that wants revenge. Page 19 really shocked me. I’m going to give some applause to Larsen for ending this conflict dramatically and with a lot of emotion. It’s impressive! The last page returns to the ongoing issues of couple, with someone admitting they “may have a problem.” I love the action in this and the continuing troubles of Mr. and Mrs. Dragon continuing to wind about in unpredictable ways. This is a good self-contained issue that would be a solid entry point into this series. Overall grade: A

The art: The book begins dramatically with a full-paged splash that’s background free. Malcolm is upside down with the chains leading down to the bottom center. There’s no text, so the reader has no clue what’s going on, save the cover image. The next two pages are a double-paged splash with the Chained Man lobbing Malcolm into the street. This collision with the concrete consumes most of the third page and is spectacular for the character’s pose and the debris that’s flying. Erik Larsen excels at flying debris! Pages 4 – 9, 12 – 13, 16 – 20 are made up of twelve equal sized cube panels. I thought that this would be difficult to do, since there’s dialogue in those panels as well. Larsen easily creates visuals that make the story move quicker than usual and allows plenty of space for the lettering, which is not only dialogue but sounds and yells. I absolutely love seeing Dragon’s children and the panel where they’re running at daddy is funny. I also love the tackle-kiss that ends Page 8. The reactions of the two nameless characters that end 9 are funny. The double-paged splash on 10 and 11 is epic! The characters are cool and the background is killer. I also have to give proper thanks for including two boxes of 1970’s game show consolation prizes in the lower left. And how about that bystander that’s sent flying in the lower center? Wow! I’m a sucker for panels that focus on a character’s single eye and the one on 13 is awesome, with the shadow a great bit of foreshadowing. 14 and 15 are a full-paged splash that shows someone giving and another individual receiving quite the punch. A character is wounded on the next page and I thought it was neat that this wound has it look as if the character is crying for the remainder of the issue; what a smart way to garner sympathy from the reader. The top three panels on 19 are jaw-dropping. Larsen never disappoints! Overall grade: A

The colors: This must have been a nightmare for Nikos Koutsis on colors and Mike Toris on flats to do because of the chains. They are not block colored, but there is an empty space in each, allowing the colors underneath or behind them to be seen. Add to that the shine they get on the first page, which is evident on the first page. This didn’t have to be done, but it just makes the work even more impressive. The yellow explosion behind Malcolm on Page 3 makes the impact look more intense. Plus that harsh orange sky behind the Chained Man makes him look unnatural. The white shower makes the characters’ skin in that location really pop, adding to the surprise and discomfort that occurs. I love the Bay Guardian’s cape — perfect! If Malcolm’s green skin doesn’t have him pop on the page, his orange shirt really draws the eye. The whites on the blue explode on 14 and 15. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ferran Delgado creates the rocking opening banner title, a quote, the book’s credits, dialogue, yells, sounds, and a song sung. The opening title looks spectacular, with lettering that looks as though it’s shaking at what’s happening to the hero. The book’s credit have a classical Marvel look to them within the circle. The quote on the opening page seems as if it’s come from literature, and it has! The dialogue is easy to read, with certain words bolded allowing the reader to better hear the stress in a character’s speech. The sounds are again Delgado’s calling card, with them ranging from small to gigantic, making the intense actions look immense. The text created for the song that’s sung in a shower is fun. Overall grade: A

“Jungle Action”: This six page back-up story was written by Larsen, illustrated by PJ Holden, colored by Koutsis and Toris, and lettered by Delgado. There is nothing but jungle action in this tale as the Dragon saves a buxom woman, fights a horde of pygmy natives, and a gargantuan creature that has a surprise on the final page. It’s funny and fun, with great visuals, great colors, and fine lettering. Heck, this could have gone the whole issue and I would have been happy. Overall grade: A

Funnies: The inside back cover features Foxy by Paul Maybury and Moonbeard by James Squires. This is a rare finding, because neither one worked for me with their gags or visuals. Disappointing. Overall grade: D

The final line: Malcolm encounters a heavy metal foe, while drama with Maxine continues. I love the Dragon story, with plenty of action and heart, complete with outstanding visuals. The back-up story is also a lot of fun and the premise could have carried an entire issue on its own. Only the Funnies on the inside cover let down, but so what? This is a great read and the perfect entry point for this hero’s adventures before he hits the big 250! 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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