In Review: Savage Dragon #241

This is a quieter Savage Dragon that begins to deal with the trauma of last issue.

The cover: Maxine Dragon cowers in the background, pleading for her husband not to hurt his attacker — Captain Tootsie. The brawny blonde hero has the title character’s left hand held in his vice-like grip. Tootsie pulls back his left hand and proclaims, “Foolish female!! The victory shall belong to — Captain Tootsie!” This character has appeared in SD before and his origin is recounted in the letters page. If this cover looks a little familiar, you may want to look at the frontpiece to The Incredible Hulk #141 to see its inspiration. Erik Larsen looks to have had several levels of fun with this cover. Overall grade: A

The story: This issue provides a bit of breather for the characters after the heavy drama of the previous issues. Writer Erik Larsen’s tale begins with a Sex-Doll delivering a hard right to Malcolm’s face. He quickly beats the robot back, telling it that its master, Norm Spiegleman, is dead after he injected himself with some of Malcolm’s blood. Hearing this, the bot goes into shock, curling up into a ball on the floor. The battle over, a police officer comes forward to tell Malcolm that they’ve “stumbled across footage of your wife’s attack and thought you might want to see what happened before we delete it.” He’s shocked at the discovery, but says he wants to see it. Meanwhile at Vancouver International Airport, Buddy picks up Captain Tootsie who’s just arrived. They share pleasantries on the way out, with Tootsie saying that he and the Secret Legion always had trouble with green-skinned monsters. These two stories are the focus for the issue: what Malcolm has seen and what Tootsie is up to. Tootsie’s story is fun, coming off as nostalgic, due to the characters’ look and dialogue. The reason for Tootsie’s journey to Canada is revealed on Page 17 and it’s fine, but not thrilling (and a major thumbs up for the dialogue that begins the fifth panel on Page 9). Maxine is not having an easy go of things, which is expected after the horrors she endured in the last issue. Her scenes with Angel are rough to read, due to Angel’s reveals, but at least she’s being honest. What Malcolm has done doesn’t exactly help things and when she’s on the streets with her husband things get worse. This is a realistic response, if one is familiar with how celebrities are treated in public after something horrible makes headlines. I didn’t enjoy reading the Maxine moments because they’re so truthful; she behaves as one would expect anyone to do after such a trauma. It’s heavy reading, with Tootsie’s pages being much lighter fare. Kudos to Larsen for going there, and continuing to go there, but this isn’t an issue I would think of returning to soon. Overall grade: B

The art: Erik Larsen the artist opens this issue with a full-paged splash of the Sex-Doll pounding Malcolm into a wall. The energy is massive as his head smashes the barrier into rubble. I also like that the doll has a smashed in left eye, showing that Malcolm has already gotten a swing in on her. Also neat is a police officer in the background reacting to the violence, knowing this battle is out of his league. When the Dragon takes her down in the next two panels on Page 2 it’s fast and violent, with her head going back and then getting slammed into the ground. When Malcolm hoists her in the air it’s got that classic hero triumphant moment. When the doll reacts to learning her master is dead the look on her face makes her incredibly sympathetic. Captain Tootsie’s design has him resembling the classic Big Red Cheese and I love him. His tussle with the Dragon looks great and reminded me of two other battling hulks that were the inspiration behind this issue’s cover. Every time Tootsie appears it’s with very thin line work, placing him visually as a character that belongs in a different time. I enjoy artists that repeat panel artwork with slight changes to show something has occurred in a character’s head, such as how Maxine is shown in the final three panels on Page 8. In fact, Maxine does the most emoting in this issue, and rightfully so after last issue’s events. She’s great on every page she appears, including 10, 11, 12, 19, and 20. Among these images includes a silent panel on the final page. An artist really demonstrates they have command of a story when the visuals tell a story without text and Larsen does it in the fifth panel on Page 20 and with the heartbreaking close-up of Malcolm on 5; and I’m extremely grateful that Larsen chose not to show the reader what the hero was looking upon. There are only two quick fights in this issue, but they, and all the other pages, look great. Overall grade: A

The colors: Nikos Koutsis with flats by Mike Toris start things off brightly on the opening page with glorious reds for the story’s title and two tones of yellow for the background. The blending of colors for characters’ skin is really well done, as made apparent on Malcolm and the Sex-Doll on the opening pages. The coloring on Tootsie is another visual element that has the character stand out, with his bright red shirt and yellow hair. He is an eye catcher on every page he appears. Page 9 uses some cool, meaning temperature, colors to transition from an exterior to an interior that has the power off. Once the power is turned on the colors brighten. The action sequences on begin on 14 have the colors the brightest of the book, which add considerable punch to the art. Overall grade: A

The letters: This issue’s text by Ferran Delgado consists of the story’s title, dialogue, sounds, book’s credits, editorial notes, and the tease for next issue. The story’s title looks sensational, done in letters with torn edges to increase the ferocity of the action on the page. The sounds are explosive. I’m always pleased when letterers use a unique font for editorial notes, which instantly are seen as an aside to the reader. I also like when letterers are given the opportunity to have certain words in a character’s speech italicized so that the reader can better hear their dialogue, and Delgado does that here and they look great. Overall grade: A

The Funny Pages: Inside the book there are two short strips: Zombie John by Erik Larsen and Eat More Bikes by Nathan Bulmer. The first is a quick read of ten panels showing a zombie making a humorous discovery, with the latter being really funny, considering it’s the same image in all four panels. The long story features Knight Watchman with Kid Galahad in “Doom in Dimension-X” Part 2. The story is by Bill Schelly, pencils and letters by Mike Worley, inks by Terry Beatty, colors by Adam Pruett, and flat assists by Kenjie Dabon. This is a five paged tale that’s delightfully reminiscent of classic Batman tales. It’s a fun read and it looks great. The Back cover features more Funnies action with Moonbeard by James Squires and Heck If I Know Comics by Charlie Higson. I’m making a copy of Squires’s strip and putting it up in my classroom as we read 1984. Higson’s strip is equally funny, with the ending making me laugh. All the contributions to this section of the book are winners. Overall grade: A

The final line: This issue deals with the fallout from previous issues. It’s quieter, though there are some action sequences, and it’s definitely heavier on the drama among characters. This is a rough issue because it chronicles how one individual deals with trauma and it’s not going to be a quick fix. The visuals are aces — pencils, colors, and letters are all tops. The story is definitely a different tone previous issues. The Funny Pages are all entertaining in this issue and I’d welcome all of them back. A different, very dramatic issue, of Savage 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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