In Review: Savage Dragon #208

A perfect super hero title, time and time again.

The cover: Mr. Glum and the Dragon are pounding on each other, while just visible to the left Angel is doing the same to an unseen foe. Nice action cover that shows readers what they’re exactly in for when they pick this book up. I’ve always liked Erik Larsen’s work because he gives me exactly the big, dramatic action I want in my super powered comic books, and this cover demonstrates it: heroes and villains duking it out, with both sides taking damage and their clothes showing the stress of the battle. The coloring is also bold, that I’m assuming was done by Nikos Koutsis and Mike Toris, which is so enjoyable to see on hero books. I really like this. Overall grade: A

The story: Mr. Glum is beating the tar out of Dragon, while Angel is battling her evil twin. Also in the mix, somewhat, is Rex Dexter, who’s taken out of the action quickly, but has a major part to play. That’s the premise of this issue, and Erik Larsen puts all the characters through the wringer in the classic super hero mode: powerful fisticuffs, debris flying, lines of energy exploding around and from characters, and the players yelling and snarling their dialogue. Just when it seems this will be nothing put punches thrown, Larsen puts in a game changer on the double-paged spread on Pages 6 and 7, killing a character. Retribution quickly follows and the battle is over. The issue deals with one character’s fallout from this death, and it’s an absolute gut punch, while another character deals with the possibility that she may die. Proper kudos must be given to this script for closing out the battle with an uber baddie, yet moving the characters’ lives forward, which is just as dramatic. There’s a second story of six pages from Gavin Higginbotham titled “Brute Force!” focusing on the team’s new line up, which consists of Max Damage, Bubble Boy, Earth Girl, Metal Man, Rubber Guy, Water Lad, and Wood Boy. These characters are facing off against Bulkhead and it’s pretty entertaining. The final panel has a nice visual punch line and throws out a name that could signal this group’s eminent return to the opening story. Overall grade: Both A 

The art: Power is what Erik Larsen brings to this book and he delivers every time. I love the mixing of thick and thin linework that he puts into this book. I’m usually a fan of a thinner line, but I can’t help but find myself fawning over the combination that Larsen does, such as on the first page. There’s so much linework exploding out of every fist thrown that the characters could be lost in it if he hadn’t used thick lines to outline characters in key places, such as the Dragon in the top of the second panel and Angel throwing a left in the third. I also like Larsen’s settings. He does a really great job with the ground; I love the detail with the rocks and how they show the Dragon’s creation of them on the second page. Page 10 is a full page splash and any reader will be able to feel the power of that death blow. If one isn’t familiar with the character of Mr. Glum, Page 12 will produce intended laughter and then a rightful sense of justice after the event on 10 is remembered. Now as good as Larsen is with the action, he also can handle the dramatic exceedingly well. The bottom of 14 is a horizontal panel empty of everything save a character and a one word dialogue balloon. It hit me hard and then 17 just devastated me. It’s a wonderfully touching and sad page. It’s perfection. The second story is illustrated, and has the flats done, by Mark Welser. His layout is good for action and the comedic; both of which have a good sense of pacing. If he were to do another book, I’d definitely give it a shot. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The bright bold work of Nikos Koutsis with the flats by Mike Toris is a breath of fresh air from all the other hero books drowning in somber colors to make them more angst filled. Savage Dragon is an in your face hero book with colors that don’t hide anything. The opening battle is incredibly strong not just for the art, but the colors, often in yellow and orange. These colors bring an extra jolt of energy to every panel. Pages 6 and 7 are a spectacular bit of work, with something powerful occurring in the foreground, but take a look at the detailed work that Koutsis and Toris put into the sky behind the action. The reds of Glum make him stand out spectacularly on his final page, with his final word a perfect summary of how his bright colors just don’t fit the surroundings. Also doing a good job is Dennis Lehmann on the second tale. His story has the bright colors I wanted, though the surroundings made Pages 2 and 3 too dark. Overall grade: A

The letters: Chris Eliopoulos provides stunning, strong sounds, dialogue, yells, and Rex speak. It’s always the mark of an outstanding letterer who’s able to insert their text onto a page without interfering in the flow of the visuals. Eliopoulos had his work cut out for him with all the action on the opening pages, yet all the dialogue and tremendous sounds he supplies never steps on the art. It’s an obvious sign of his talent. And the sounds are textbook examples of how they amplify the art and make a book fun. Adam Pruett creates the text for “Brute Force” and he does a good variety: dialogue, sounds, yells, and weakened speech. Why can’t all comics have sounds like Savage Dragon? Overall grade: A+

The final line: A perfect super hero title, time and time again. This is how I wish other super hero books could be. Overall grade: A

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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