The Shit Hits the Fan!
Chicago's Vicious Circle has relocated to Toronto - and that means it's FIGHT TIME for Malcolm Dragon and his allies!
Meanwhile, Malcolm's wife, Maxine, copes with life as Dragon's wife and mother to his super-powered kids as only she can... and her deterioration seems to be worsening.
One of the advantages of Savage Dragon being set in real time is creator Erik Larsen gets to comment on current events pretty much as they’re occurring. With the recent delay in publication due to COVID-19, Larsen took the opportunity to say a little something about the United States’ apparent abandoning of caring about the current pandemic:
So, Savage Dragon gets to be the first major comic to directly address not only COVID-19, but also America’s abrogation of responsibility toward combating it. And without any editor to tell him no or corporate overlords to tell him, “We don’t want to play politics” or some such, Larsen is, as ever, free to say exactly what’s on his mind when it comes to a particular current event.
This isn’t the first time he’s full-throatedly voiced his opinion in the pages of SD. He’s never shied away from controversy:
(Of course, this cover shouldn’t be controversial, but that’s a conversation for anther time.)
He’s also taken jabs at the George W. Bush administration, corporate comics, bigots/racists, sexists, and pretty much anything else you can think of. By virtue of being one-hundred percent the vision of its creator, Savage Dragon has become as much a mouthpiece for Larsen as it has an insanely fun romp of a comic in its own right.
That’s a turn-off for some, who whine and cry about “wanting politics out of comics,” “just want escapism,” and yearn for “the way comics used to be.”
Those people are delusional, self-centered, and frankly have missed the entire point of pretty much any comic ever published that they claim to cherish.
But I digress.
Savage Dragon #249 works mainly as an action piece, as Chicago’s Vicious Circle has chosen to relocate to Toronto in order to escape losing their powers (see last issue). It’s a bit of a questionable decision (read: convenient plot device) that the Vicious Circle would consciously choose to relocate to the very city Malcolm Dragon has made his home (I hear Vancouver would be equally nice), but the net result is a delightful throwback to classic-era SD. From the very start, the title’s action was predicated on Malcolm’s father, the O.G. Dragon, battling to reclaim Chicago from the forces of the Mafia-like and super-powered Vicious Circle. Many of those old-school familiar faces return this issue, mixed with the children of many of those original members who have since died (R.I.P. Dung). The result is an insanely fun, over-the-top all-out action issue that hearkens back to days of yore without feeling like a nostalgia trip for its own sake.
This being Savage Dragon, there’s a healthy dose of risque sexual shenanigans as well. Widow and her counter-Earth doppelganger are sexually involved and highly turned on by battle. Malcolm’s first question to adopted sister Angel after learning she’s engaged is whether or not this means an end to their regularly-scheduled menage-a-trois between them and Maxine. Maxine’s mom made a porno with Dragon’s sorta-half-brother (the revelation of which closes the issue in a really weird and somewhat anticlimactic place). Sex and violence are intrinsic parts of Savage Dragon, and always have been. Larsen’s maybe been milking it a bit much in recent years, but at least in part, it serves to inform the ongoing subplot of Maxine’s slow psychological and emotional deterioration that being in Malcolm’s life has wrought.
Perhaps because Larsen has conditioned me to do so over the years, I’ve been nervously awaiting Maxine’s violent demise pretty much since she first got involved with Malcolm some years ago. Defying all expectations, Maxine is still alive and kicking – but with a major toll. Being married to Malcolm, bearing his super-powered children (and being unable to even hold one of them for fear of being accidentally electrocuted to death), and being in near-constant danger has exacted a huge toll on her psyche, which has manifested in both nymphomania and alcoholism. Maxine is slowly coming undone, and Malcolm, still a young man coming into his own maturity, sees it but is so into all of the sexy shenanigans that he doesn’t realize what’s happening. I’m patiently waiting for the moment he does, and this long-running subplot takes a new direction. It’s going to be a massive shift in the narrative when it does.
Artistically, Larsen is as Larsen as ever, if that makes any sense. The man has developed a singular style that has major tips of the hat to both Kirby and Walt Simonson, kinetic and frenetic and action-oriented as can be. The men are ridiculously over-muscled, and the women are all drop-dead sexy. Cheesecake is the norm, but that’s all part of the fun. It’s an interesting duality, that a book as stridently liberal as this in its politics as this doesn’t shy away from ample sex-bombs. Heck, Widow shoots webbing out of her hoo-hah and it doesn’t feel out of place in Savage Dragon. Out of step with the times? Maybe. But completely in step with Larsen’s vision for Savage Dragon? You bet. And fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
Savage Dragon #249 brings the old-school, over the top action fans love, as villainy goes old-school and migrates to Toronto for an epic showdown in next month's anniversary spectacular!
Savage Dragon #249: What Was Old is New Again
Writing - 8/10
Storyline - 7/10
Art - 7.5/10
Color - 5/10
Cover Art - 7.5/10
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