The Gathering Storm!
The Freaks of Chicago's Vicious Circle have mounted a jailbreak, lead by the calculating and evil Dart!
Chicago is about to be crop-dusted with Freak-Out by the U.S. government, which will return all super-powered beings back to normal - and the bad guys want out NOW!
Good thing Chicago is so close to the border with Canada...
Only one man has what it takes to protect Canada from this insurgency, but even Malcolm Dragon may not be strong enough!
Savage Dragon isn’t a comic for some people. It’s over-the-top violent. There’s a fair amount of cheesecake (okay, a lot of cheesecake). Grown-up language and themes. But at the end of the day, it’s consistently fun, and unconcerned with watering itself down to fit the tastes of anyone other than its creator, writer, and artist, the one and only Erik Larsen. Larsen himself is something of a divisive figure, unapologetic in his opinions and unafraid to talk requisite shit as the situation requires. And you know what? That’s okay. Because if there was ever a dynamic where a comic perfectly reflects a creator’s worldview and vice versa, it’s Savage Dragon (apologies to Dave Sim).
After a five-month hiatus, SD returns exactly where it left off, with Angel Dragon hospitalized with a shattered spine after last issue’s brutality. That plotline is hastily dealt with, though, with a quick injection of Malcolm Dragon’s blood (which has astounding healing properties) to heal her grievous wounds, followed by an injection of Freak-Out to nullify her superpowers and prevent her from exploding thanks to the instability of Malcolm’s blood. It’s a tried and true solution that Larsen has gone to a few times too many now, and cuts short any inherent drama with Angel’s injuries. But it also speaks to Larsen’s confidence in how this world he’s created functions – this is exactly what the situation would call for in this world. It works, end of story – time to move on. Whether or not that constitutes the greatest shakes in dramatic writing is beside the point, because Larsen is more concerned in crafting a logical solution for the situation rather than spending undue amounts of time hand-wringing over Angel’s current state.
More importantly, I think, is the response Malcolm’s wife Maxine has to using their vial of Freak-Out on Angel. She comes off as petulant at first about it, but a closer inspection reveals that her reaction is more than warranted. Their daughter Maddy inherited Malcolm’s electrical powers, but is too young to understand how to control them – which means that she’s a danger to Maxine’s life anytime she comes into contact with her own child. The mere act of holding her daughter is a threat, and the Freak-Out was intended to make the situation safe by taking Maddy’s electrical powers away. Maxine’s ongoing struggle with this situation is beginning to define her character, and is much more interesting than the played-out nymphomaniac angle to her that once again rears its head this issue, yet contributes nothing to the story. It’s just… there. I’d hoped that Larsen was progressing past this aspect of her character, but it keeps getting dredged up. Malcolm himself remains somewhat indifferent to her condition, as hey, he’s getting lots and lots of sex – understandable from the perspective of a young adult male, but at this point, past the time of being a major concern for the psychological and emotional well-being of his wife. In Savage Dragon, though, all things have their time, as the narrative has the ongoing structure of a soap opera. 248 issues in, I think Larsen has earned the trust of his readers to let things play out naturally.
There’s a heck of a lot else going on in Savage Dragon #248, but perhaps the most important is the Vicious Circle gatecrashing Canada to escape the city’s Freak-Out crop-dusting to deal with its superpowered menaces one and for all. It’s all building up to July’s 100-page issue 250 spectacular, and I’ll just say that Larsen never hesitates to pull out all the stops for an anniversary. With pretty much an entire city’s worth of superpowered goons descending on Canada, Malcolm’s about to have his hands full. They’re lead by recurring villainess Dart, a psychopath with a sword who, despite not having any superpowers of her own, can more than hold her own against Malcolm. She’s a great foil for Malcolm, who in a lot of respects just wants to live as normal of a life as possible, but due to who he is (and the celebrity status he inherited just by being his father’s son), the bad guys just refuse to leave him alone. Dart, by contrast, is a larger-than-life lunatic who lusts for power above all else (she even mercilessly carved up the Li’l Wise Guys once!). Malcolm is a different type of hero than his father, who besides from being a cop, skewed more into a more vaguely traditional superhero role. Malcolm has a normal wife, three kids, has to keep a roof over his head, and has been a reality TV star – you know, normal people things. Dart is the kind of person who keeps pulling him into her crazy.
It’s that down-to-earth allure mixed with over-the-top superheroics that has fueled Savage Dragon for almost three decades now. It’s also the fact that the book ages in real time, so we’ve gotten to watch Malcolm grow up and become his own character both in and out of his father’s shadow. In doing so, Larsen has created a world where, despite all the crazy shenanigans, we care about these people – who they are, where their lives are going, and the repercussions of their choices. What results is a comic that isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. It is what it is, and is exciting and funny and sexy and daring and violent and should never, ever change a thing.
It’s Savage Dragon. What else could it be?!
Savage Dragon #248 kicks off the march to 250 with style and lots of over-the-top craziness, just like fans like it! If you've never read this comic before, now's the time to jump on board!
Savage Dragon #248: Many Happy Returns
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7.5/107.5/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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