In Review: Savage Dragon #242

Drama, action, heroes, a god, and a robot of questionable origin make this an enjoyable issue.

The cover: The god Ragnok is getting double slammed by the Ant and the Dragon. The insectoid hero is turning the other cheek and slamming the deity in the face with her rear, while taking the time to turn to the reader and acknowledge them, while Malcolm goes low and grabs the god by the legs. The reaction on Ragnok’s face is funny and appropriate, given how he’s being attacked by the Ant. Another solid cover by Erik Larsen. I also like the use of white space on this illustration — it makes it really stand out against other books on the racks. Overall grade: A

The story: It’s winter and the University of Toronto’s Annual Tri Campus Snowball Fight is on, joined by Malcolm, Captain Tootsie, Angel, and the Secret Legion. A surprise addition is the sex-bot that tried to kill Malcolm in the last issue who’s been reprogrammed by Tootsie into being an android with her own personality. Malcolm gets taken out quickly and then the girls begin to really attack the boys. Angel and Frank have a sweet moment during the battle, while Tootsie reassures Malcolm he has no intentions of dragging him back to America. “Relax!” Tootsie says. “I was sent to get you but the only reason I took the assignment was because of the government’s ‘No Alien’ policy! I couldn’t bring my space ship back there!” That’s when Malcolm gets nailed in the crotch by a surprising foe. There’s a tense spat of words that ends with a magical moment that makes all okay for now. A story doesn’t last long without conflict, so writer Erik Larsen starts to stir the pot with a character stating some truth that’s going to cause some problems. This drama will undoubtedly return later, but Malcolm has to go because he’s got a call that two super powered individuals are causing trouble: Ant and Ragnok. These action scenes are briefly interrupted by a couple’s discussion and the arrival of a welcome cast member on Page 11. The reveal why the insect is going after the god is neat and had me doubting Ant’s tale, but the truth revealed is startling, cool, and will turn your head. The parting of the heroes was good, with their relationship left the same as it began. My favorite part of the story was actually a quiet page with Captain Tootsie putting the final touch on something and someone receiving a name: it was sweet, a classic comic book moment, and held the promise of more adventures. I’m ready for a spin-off or one-shot. Larsen also does a great job with the cliffhanger, with someone in peril yet again and someone looking as though they’ve been killed. Thirty days is too long to see how this ends up! Overall grade: A

The art: Erik Larsen opens things up right in the reader’s face with the snowball Malcolm is throwing going beyond the border of the splash and is speeding at the reader. I love when artists do this and having it occur during a snowball fight gives the book a warm, joyful tone. Captain Tootsie is illustrated throughout the book as though he’s from the 40’s. I love how everyone is gritting their teeth to win this fight, while Tootsie has got that classic smile on his face, reminding the reader that this is a fun battle. When the Secret Legion appear they spot eyes from that time period as well, dots or slits. It just made me so happy seeing characters drawn like this. This style has essentially disappeared from comics, but I miss it and it made me smile. Seeing the sex-bot involved in the spat was a little jarring at first, given what she’s wearing and she still has a T-1000 hole in her head. The first panel on Page 3 is a hilarious visual as is the effect that immediately follows it. The anger on Page 5 shook me. Yes, the words are harsh, but the visuals really put the punch into the text. I love that the last two panels on the page slowly pull away from the pair to show that life will go on. Nice. Page 6 is an explosive change of pace with a full-paged splash of Ragnok trying to take out the Ant. The Ant’s pose on that page is really cool. In fact, any time the Ant is shown leaping about it looks really great. I absolutely love Malcolm’s entrance into the fight on 12, with him striking a uncharacteristically non-superhero pose. The reaction by one individual to his arrival was freakin’ awesome! I love the new look for a character on 14 and everyone’s reaction to it. I did not know that the Ant was able to employ “that” way to battle a foe in the fifth panel on 16 — it was surprising and neat. The energy in the large panel on 18 is rightfully powerful, but I also like the two panels that follow, which would cause anyone to take pause. The final page of the book is startling, even after the heroes’ fight. The antagonist is simple, yet grotesque, and the character’s reaction will break hearts. Great shadow work on the protagonist on those final three panels. Overall grade: A

The colors: Nikos Koutsis, with Mike Toris doing flats, create some smooth colors for this issue. I love the strong reds that hold the title on the opening page and the blue sky combined with all the white snow is so peaceful, even if the visuals show people throwing projectiles at one another. Sounds and yells are in bright colors to increase the actions that occur and there’s a smooth yellow to color editorial notes. I love the colors for a two paged scene in the Dragons’ apartment; pinks, yellows, greens, and tans make things lively. Notice only Malcolm gets a dark color to emphasize his mood. The Ant is an eye catcher not only for her acrobatics, but for her striking reds that have her pop against the snow. Yellows return every time Ragnok strikes a blow, making his punches extra strong. Colors create a striking lighting effect on 17, with faded violets showing the power from one individual. The rusty red used for the final antagonist is a good choice to create an evil aura for the character. Overall grade: A

The letters: The titles of this series’ stories continue to look great. Ferran Delgado’s story titles and credits hail back to classic 1960’s comics. He additionally creates dialogue, yells, sounds, editorial notes, whispered dialogue, and the tease for next issue. The yells come in several sizes and fonts so the reader can better judge how they should be heard. The sounds are amazing. They look explosive and perfectly match the actions that created them. BRAKKA-THOOM! PLUDD! and SLASH! are my favorites. That said, the whispered text on the final page is extremely emotional. When combined with the visuals, they pull the reader into the emotion of the moment and make them sympathetic for the speaker. Overall grade: A

The Funnies: Seven pages from Spawn #266, written and drawn by Larsen and lettered by Joe Caramagna comprise the interior pages. I haven’t read a Spawn comic in two hundred and thirty-six issues, so it was neat to see a portion of it here. It pertains to what Ant is talking about in this issue and provided some context for how Malcolm deals with her. Nice. On the back cover are the traditional Funnies, featuring “Moonbeard” by James Squires, “Heck If I Know Comics” by Charlie Higson, and “Dizzy Drama” by Joe Bowers. Squire’s strip made me snicker, and Higson’s got me to laugh hard, especially with that last panel. Bowers’s was like an old newspaper funny, which is fine, but didn’t get me to laugh. Overall grades: A

The final line: Drama, action, heroes, a god, and a robot of questionable origin make this an enjoyable issue. Nothing earth shattering in this installment, though the cast continues to have and create issues for themselves and others. The action sequences are outstanding with the Ant being a good visitor to this series. The final page is a jaw-dropper, making me wonder how long this character will stick around for the never ending trauma. Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/savage-dragon-242

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Savage-Dragon-242/digital-comic/732171?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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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