“The Way it Was”
Writer/Artist: Erik Larsen
Publisher: Image Comics
Plot: At long last, the origin of the finned green man found naked in a burning field!
Comments: This discount comic has an interesting history, explained by Larsen on the letters page. For various reasons, he never wanted to tell Dragon’s origin in the main series, leaving his past and his fast rise in Chicago’s law enforcer community unexplained. But for an anniversary “jam” hardcover where each of Image’s founders would contribute a story starring their iconic creation, he decided the time had come to break that silence.
Only, for various reasons, the hardcover never got around to coming out. After many delays, it finally did, but any buzz it might have had was long evaporated. Many long-time readers subsequently never got to read the longed-for origin tale. So Larsen compromised and belatedly releases this bargain version of the story (still unwilling to have it impact the main title).
The issue is a flashback, and whatever you were expecting, this ain’t it. But, as hoped for, it’s damn funny, and certainly does make a sort of sense.
Dragon is, as suspected, an alien. He’s the Supreme leader of a race of green-skinned, fin humanoids. He’s called Emperor Kurr. And he’s a major league a-hole.
See, they don’t all possess his exceptional might and self-healing ability. He’s the “chosen one,” specially bred as a warrior leader. The rest of his race are varying shades of green, with distinctive facial features and body types, and all too sadly destructible. They quake in fear of the mad king, but they don’t plan to be ruled by a cruel despot forever.
He’s led them to Earth, in their search for a new homeworld. And he’s got a plan; he’s found their Eden, but they need to wipe out all humans first. His two advisors possess the morality he lacks and refuse to do it. One’s daughter is sacrificed to breed a new heir. The other’s daughter is almost brutally raped as well. Kurr despairs of ever finding a woman capable of standing up to his attentions.
But he’s distracted long enough for the scientists to blow his brains out and deposit him on Earth, where he’ll inevitably heal, but as a whole new man, bereft of his past. And this is the Dragon we’ve come to know and love as a hero, reborn as a fighter, but not as an over-privileged despot whose word has always been law.
Meanwhile, the aliens have moved on in their giant battleaxe space arc, searching for an uninhabited planet to call home, never to return. And if you have any doubts about Larsen’s perennially juvenile sex obsession, you have only to look at the … well, we have to call them codpieces, don’t we … that all the Savage men seem to wear. It’s brutal and unsubtle and hilarious, and it lets us know that whatever has happened to Dragon since his time on Earth, this life is still a better one than the one he lost.
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