In Review: Savage Dragon #214

One of the best super hero books is Savage Dragon. Recommended.

The cover: The Dragon readies himself to swing a left at Tantrum as the violet monstrosity misses the hero with his own left that shatters concrete. Excellent sense of energy in this action packed illustration by Erik Larsen. Everyone loves a David and Goliath conflict and that’s what this is as the size of the villain definitely has the Dragon at a disadvantage. The blast that comes from Tantrum’s miss projects beyond the cover, and the perspective of Tantrum’s right fist looks as though it’s going to punch the reader. Great colors on this as well, with the violets of the antagonist and yellow setting providing a good background for the Dragon’s deep greens. A great job. Please note, I had to scan this cover to get a large image of it, and it much brighter than the image accompanying this review. Overall grade: A 

The story: Called by the police, Malcolm Dragon arrives on the scene to do battle with Tantrum who’s frankly, well…, having a tantrum for unknown reasons, smashing up the city. Dragon runs over to the mute monster, telling him to settle down. Unfortunately the baddie is holding up an entire building as he stares down the hero. “No need to get all excited,” Malcolm says. “Just take it nice and easy.” This is not going to go well. And speaking of not going well, Lorella is trying to convince Maxine Dragon to give up her baby, as well as the pair of Dragon offspring Malcolm has discovered, until they get old enough to control their powers. “These children could push you through the walls of your apartment and plummet into the street below! They could kill you, effortlessly, with no malice intended.” After hearing Angel chime in with similar comments, Maxine agrees. She goes in to where the babies are being kept and finds the doctor decapitated on the floor and the children gone. She tells the other two and Angel looks out the window to see Dart, Barry Dragon, and “some big red goon” loading taking the children into a van. Angel doesn’t hesitate and leaps out the window to stop them. With this action dueling stories begin from writer Erik Larsen: Dragon versus Tantrum and Angel versus Dart and her two accomplices, and it’s an exciting back and forth. Rightfully, just as something major is about to occur or happens, Larsen moves to the other story, keeping the reader’s anxiety high and attention focused. There are some excellent scenes, with a good mix of funny and the dramatic: Page 7, panels one through three; the final panel on 12; 14’s second and third panels; the final panel on 19; and the jaw dropper of 20. In case one thinks this is light action fare, Page 20 is a reality check that characters can have terrible things happen to them, and the worst possible thing happens at the top of 20. Outstanding! Overall grade: A+

The art: Erik Larsen is able to get so much onto a page and into a panel without it seeming awkward or forced. Check out the first two thin vertical panels that open the book. Characters are introduced, along with their distance form one another, as well as the setting and the chaotic situation. The second page is an awesome splash that has Tantrum holding up a building. The point of view is from the third floor looking down at the super humans. Notice that Larsen has got a woman on the second floor reacting to her situation. Angel’s leap into action at the bottom of 5 is as heroic as panels can get; and notice that her right hand is protruding from the panel, making her action seem so strong that the panel can’t contain her. Page 6 is the same scene as Page 2, but a few minutes later. The damage the building has taken while Tantrum is holding it is massive; it’s crumbling under its own weight, and the woman from the second floor has come down to the first floor. The book has been a slugfest up to this point, but the bottom of 9 shows the graphic lengths one villain will take to escape Angel. It’s shocking and that’s exactly how it should be perceived by the reader. The double-paged splash on 10 and 11 has Tantrum finally releasing the building and one could spend quite a bit of time admiring every piece of debris that’s flying about. I’m always incredibly appreciative of artists that put so much detail into scenes like this. 16 has got Dart using one of her abilities to good effect at the bottom of the page and it’s accomplished without any motion lines to show what’s she doing; instead, rightfully so, Larsen uses speed lines to show that she’s flying forward while she makes this move — and excellent way to show that she’s not being slowed by anything. The first panel on 19 is exactly what the text says, “That’s something new.” The panel that’s going to be remembered from this issue is the first panel atop 20. I gasped when I saw it. Awesome work. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The big, bright, and bold colors explode out of this book from Nikos Koutsis, with flats done by Mike Toris. The in-your-face art is matched with in-your-face colors that make every visual that much stronger. The third panel on the first page emphases the action with bold yellows and an orange sound. The pale purple colors for Tantrum’s flesh and the deep olives for Dragon’s make them instant sources of focus for the reader, especially when the colorists wisely put them on pale sky blue backgrounds. When someone is throwing a super powered punch the panel radiates yellow or orange, unnatural colors in the real world, but emotionally strong ones in the world of comics. The sounds also gain momentum when they’re colored so boldly. The colors accentuate every aspect of the visuals. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, yells, and the final word that’s whispered to no one all come to be thanks to Chris Eliopoulos. The dialogue is always easy to read, the bolding of words to allow the reader to better hear the character’s emphasis in their speech, and the sounds are fierce. The bolding of words in the final panel on 12 made the venom with which the words are spoken fantastic. And the sounds are as much fun to say aloud as they are to look at — it’s amazing for all the different fonts used for each punch that connects. SHINNNG! will be the sound that resonates long after this book has been read. Overall grade: A+

The funnies: Five pages are given to The Red Torpedo. There’s no text in this story, but it can easily be understood by anyone. The art is beautiful, looking as though it was done decades earlier, and the colors are glorious. Dog Comics by Gary Fields is on the inside cover with Charlie Higson’s Heck If I Know Comics. Fields’s joke is older than the hills, but it made me smile, while Higson’s had me wincing. I then smiled, but I admit to wincing first. Overall grade: A

The final line: One of the best super hero books is Savage Dragon. I’m always entertained by the story and wowed by the visuals. Recommended. 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.
    2 Comments on this post.
  • Myster TrueBeliever Henry
    4 June 2016 at 7:38 am -

    That’s NOT She-Dragon….that’s Lorella, the last woman from Dragon’s race.

    • Patrick Hayes
      4 June 2016 at 3:18 pm -

      You’re right. This will be corrected.

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