Tales From the Bargain Bin: The Savage Dragon #1

The issue opens up with Dragon, a Chicago Police officer who is also a large, green man with a fin on his head, stopping two criminals, Cutthroat and Glowbug. It then flashes back to Dragon being found in a burning vacant lot by police officer Lt. Frank Darling. Dragon has no memories pertaining to himself, strangely enough he can recall information that is not about himself like the current president. Frank sets Dragon up with an apartment and a job with his cousin Fred Darling. Later Frank comes to Dragon, after seeing the news of the super hero Super Patriot having been severely wounded, and asks him to join the police force. Dragon declines but due to later events in the issue he does join the police.

SavageDragonMini1pinkwhiteSavage Dragon #1 is the first in a three part mini-series created by Erik Larson. Published in 1992 it was the first book Erik Larson published under the company he had co-founded, Image Comics. Due to the success of the 3 part series in 1993 Larson would launch the current ongoing Savage Dragon series.

So what did I think of the comic? It was good, damn good. Erik Larson created a hardcore, intimidating character in Dragon. He created a complex world and throws you right into it without boring you with too many details, but does so in such a way that you aren’t overwhelmed by all the new things and actually want to see the story develop beyond the first issue. The issue breeds curiosity. Who is Dragon? Why doesn’t he remember anything about himself?

It really brings that grittiness of the eighties comics without the artistically dark tones that so many of those comics had. During that time period it really graduated the reader of Marvel or DC’s main continuity comics to a much more mature themed comic, while still keeping a more traditional super hero story.

I like to think of it as in the eighties we finally had a breakthrough in comics with the understanding that adult enjoy and buy comics and we can make comics geared towards them. Unfortunately many of those said comics weren’t super hero comics. Then pushing forward in time we get creators like Larson who push forward a more super hero like story geared towards a mature audience. At least that’s the way I see it.

The art of the book stands out more to me than the actual story itself. I mean the story is good and the writing very well done, it’s more that the story itself is very much an introduction and we’re not quite in the meat of the story itself. It’s the bane of reading a comic, I know there is more to this story so tell me it, but that’s not how it works, it’s serialized. I suppose it’s a good sign to want more of the story. As for the art though, I love how many scenes are incorporated into the book, from hand to hand fighting, to gunfights, to explosions. It’s well illustrated, beautiful in many spots, take a scene where Dragon in standing in his wife beater and jeans, holding two assault rifles, backed by a setting sun.

I can see the love in the art from Erik Larson. It isn’t surprising seeing as The Savage Dragon was his baby, a work solely created by him and coming out from a long stint of being the artist for so many comics that weren’t really his. The Savage Dragon is an artist finally being able to stand up, shake off the dust and create something original and unique and it shines.

There are a lot of “politics” when it comes to the story behind Image comics and those involved, but this article isn’t about that. Nor will I probably delve into it. To me it doesn’t matter. I understand the idea behind Erik Larson and the others involved with Image, but I just want to read comics. The Savage Dragon is a great comic. Buy this one, read it and buy more. Get the trade paperbacks. The Savage Dragon is worth reading, worth buying, worth supporting.

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