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Savage Dragon #214 Review: Intense Action from Erik Larsen! 214th Brutal Issue!

Written by Mike Ambrose on Friday, June 03 2016 and posted in Reviews

Savage Dragon #214 Review: Intense Action from Erik Larsen! 214th Brutal Issue!

214 consecutive issues by the same writer/artist? What year is this?


Source: Image Comics

Story/Art: Erik Larsen
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Nikos Koutsis
Flats: Mike Toris

 

Savage Dragon #1 was published in 1992. Twenty four years later, Erik Larsen is still at the helm, making comics on his own term and more or less on a monthly schedule for the majority of that time - all things worth celebrating. That first issue's cover had blurbs proclaiming "INTENSE ACTION from Erik Larsen" and "1st BRUTAL ISSUE!" 217 issues later (counting the initial 3 issue mini-series), that claim still holds up.

Savage Dragon #214 is, in a word, bombastic. But because this is a comic book review, I will continue to use more words.

I've never been a regular reader of Savage Dragon. In fact, it was still the '90s the last time I really checked in with the character. So I was a bit concerned that jumping in at issue 214 would leave me confused and disinterested. That was not at all the case.

Larsen has said, that as a reader, he'll often pick up a comic that looks interesting to him without actually following a series. That philosophy is evident in Savage Dragon #214. It's impressive that this deep into an ongoing, in the middle of a story line, just how easy it is for a new reader to pick up and enjoy the issue.

barry dragonIn the opening sequence where the Dragon fights the villain Tantrum, Larsen uses the dialogue between the Dragon and the other officers on scene to tell us all we need to know about the situation and the threat. Likewise when Lorella and Battle Girl confront Maxine Dragon about what might be best for her and her super powered newborns, the relevant backstory and context is presented in the conversation. It's all very natural and organic. The possible exception being the introduction of Barry Dragon, the son of Dragon's evil twin, when Battle Girl says "That's Barry Dragon - you know - the son of Dragon's evil twin!" Although clunky, it does have a bit of retro charm, an element of which runs throughout the entire comic. One of the villains does pick up and throw an apartment block, after all.

Larsen's storytelling style hearkens back to a time when creative teams had long runs on comics that had even longer runs, a time before writing for a trade was common. So in Savage Dragon #214, we see story elements that have been developing for some time (probably, can't really confirm that since I'm a new reader). There's an ongoing soap opera style element (albeit much more brutal and action packed) running through the book.

Larsen's art style is, at this point of his career, a known quantity. Full of bold action and dynamic poses, the Kirby influence is obvious, and it's always a joy to see a Kirby crackle show up. The art is bold and stylistic. Larsen's heavy inks add weight and impact to his art. It might not appeal to readers who prefer a more highly rendered, photo-realistic style, but those fans are wrong. It's engaging art that fits the story to a tee, which isn't really a surprise given Larsen does it all himself.

dragon building

In addition to the main story, this issue contains six pages of back up material, featuring a five page silent story about an at-sea crime fighter and a couple gag strips.

Don't be mistaken, Larsen's work on Savage Dragon #214 is still fresh and modern. It pays homage to a different time while still being something entirely contemporary. Savage Dragon #214 is filled with action and a story that moves at a breakneck pace, with an emotional current strong enough to pull in any new readers.







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About the Author - Mike Ambrose


Mike Ambrose isn't slow, he's just Canadian. Mike began collecting comics in 1991 with an allowance earned by doing chores on the family farm, snapping up anything that said "#1 Collector's Item" on the cover, including X-Men, Sleepwalker, and NFL Superpro. That is to say, Mike knows bullshit. These skills were further developed and finally acknowledged when he graduated from a well-regarded journalism and public relations college program. Mike lives in a surprisingly nice house in a pretty good neighbourhood with his loving girlfriend. Aside from comic books of all types, Mike enjoys cooking, rap music, and the rule of threes.
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