FCBD 2015: Free Comic Book Day book reviews, Part Two
SAVAGE DRAGON LEGACY FCBD #1 (Image Comics) Writer/Artist Erik Larsen
Savage Dragon is one of the longest running titles in super-hero comics. It is one of the original flagship titles from the then-upstart Image Comics back in the 1990’s. Erik Larsen is the sole creator, and has remained scripter and artist on this title since Issue #1 - - an impressive accomplishment.
Larsen is heavily influenced by Jack Kirby, and his art style, which is not a deliberate mimic or copy, shows traces of that influence throughout - - from the way the feet are drawn, over-sized punches that move to the front of the panels, 1970’s sound effects, and Kirbyesque monsters and villains. His story-writing ability also has a 1970’s flavor to it, except when it comes to sexual situations (but none mentioned in the FCBD edition).
The mantle of power and responsibility has moved from the original Dragon to his son, Malcolm, who takes on the same position with the Chicago Police as his father held.
COVER APPEAL: Very basic. Just a cut-out of Savage Dragon advancing forward, fists out and ready for a brawl. I suppose on a rudimentary level this could be very appealing to the very young readers just getting acquainted with super-heroes and wanting to try something different. 2 points.
STORY: The story opens with a big battle between Malcolm and equally huge Wrath, a dragon-like monster with an open brain case in the back of his head. It’s just a big punch out complete with garish sound effects (skrakka-frakk!, wramm!, thoom!, spakk! Sprakka-wrakk! - - that’s just the first two pages). It’s somewhat fun and lets us see that Malcolm is up to the challenge. There’s a meeting between Malcolm and his dad (now in jail) followed by another battle with a big cyclopean villain (Fountainhead) before a little character reveal and ending (he’s a married father of twins). If nothing else, Larsen is consistent and you can always expect to be entertained with his story lines, but never challenged. 1.5 points.
ART: Big panels. Big characters. Big style. Bold colors. Eye appealing, yet not different or dynamic enough for the full points. 2 points.
YOUTH APPEAL: Despite the popularity of the iconic Marvel and DC heroes, it can be very difficult to bring a brand new reader up to date on these characters or get them to understand the storylines without reading a giant stack of linked books. A brand new reader could really start anywhere with Savage Dragon and catch up and catch on. On the plus side, I would think readers from 10-14 years would be most attracted to a book like this. Maybe too violent or not as interesting for younger readers, and most likely not complex enough for 15+ readers. If you are a 40 year old who reads this title, please don’t be offended. You know what you like, and I don’t disrespect anyone who enjoys Savage Dragon. I’m just trying to think like a younger person and that’s how I came up with the speculations above. 2 points.
NEW READER APPEAL: This is where I give points for the writers making an effort to familiarize new readers with the back-story and provide some information/history. Larsen does this in two separate , two-page sections of the story. It’s all dialogue between two characters but it gets the job done. A little flashback art might have helped make it less tiresome, though. There’s also a second story of young Malcolm that provides some history. 2.5 points.
PROMOTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS: As with the Fantagraphic FCBD title, you really cannot get an idea of the diversity of books offered by Image from reading this.. However, it does promote Savage Dragon and the back cover lists all the trade paperback collections available along with ISBN numbers. 1.5 points.
BONUS POINTS: WOULD I PERSONALLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK? While this is not the type of book that I seek out, there are some readers that I would suggest it to if I knew that this style of art and story was exactly what they were looking for. A personal recommendation? Nope. 1 point.
FINAL RANKING FOR SAVAGE DRAGON LEGACY: 12.5 MEETS EXPECTATIONS.