"The Power of Mighty Man"
"A Turn for the Worse"
Story and Art: Erik Larsen (plus a dozen inkers)
How can one book have so much continuity to rewrite? By lasting 100 issues with one artist/writer, for one thing. Feeling overwhelmed by his own convoluted creation, Larsen sent Ol' Finhead to an alternate Earth in issue #76, where Dragon spent the last two years fixing its many problems. Now he must choose which world he belongs in, and the fate of both hangs in the balance.
So, to get that over with, he chooses to stay in the "new" (formerly "savage") continuity. Things turned out differently in this world; versions of both Sharona (the mother of Dragon's son) and Jennifer (Dragon's wife) survive, for two things. Even his former police partner Alex crosses over to join him as well, surrounding Dragon with all his lady loves.
The many key differences are the point of this anniversary issue. Each mini-story, of varying lengths and artistic styles, takes one pivotal point from the history long-time Finhead Fans know and demonstrates how it turned out differently in the new continuity. It's an ingenuous, if convoluted, way of starting fresh. Larsen gets to keep all the events we already knew, including many tragedies, but also tell different, new stories with virtually the same characters, some of them long dead.
Can you enjoy the book if you don't know what's changed from what happened before? That was the idea behind the whole "Savage World" experiment after all, to jettison all the complex relationships bogging Dragon down and just allow him to have some wacky sci-fi adventures while brawling with monsters for awhile. Larsen's influences populate this book, and the last 25 issues were some wild mix of Kamandi, Land of the Lost and Conan until Dragon actually succeeded in overthrowing Cyberface, whose unstoppable control of all things technological had given him dominion over the planet.
So, to answer my question, no. The continuity is all back, just different, and reading this issue constitutes a jumping on point only for those interested in the rules of a fairly complicated extant world. For fans of super-heroes, Larsen's world is lush, rich and full of buxom babes and brutal bad guys. If they're all a bit familiar, at least Larsen knows it and even uses such similarities for plot points and surprise reveals.
I'm having a bit of trouble placing exactly what made the new world so different from Dragon's previous one: some combination of the absence of Damien Darklord (the product of alien rape on one of Earth's metas) with the replacement of one world's Dragon with the mind of another. Or something. Whatever, it totally reconfigures the landscape, and these vignettes show us the what if not always the why. We're left with our good buddy Dragon with his family intact again, with less metas to contend with and his careers as cop and super-team leader behind him. Dragon's earned this happiness, for however long it lasts.
The inkers each leave their marks on Larsen's pencils, with Sienkiewicz, Austin and Timm working the most radical changes, while Beatty, Simonson and Ordway prove the most compatible. It's a nice gesture from the comic book community towards Larsen, who just by himself rebooted a universe of his own making. To long-term readers, his achievement in staying with this title for a decade means a lot, and justifies the high cover price. There are no ads in this issue.
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