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Savage Dragon #141

Posted: Thursday, December 4, 2008
By: Shawn Hill

Erik Larsen
Erik Larsen, Tom Orzechowski (l)
Image Comics
“The Victims”

Plot: It's Solar Man vs. the Image all-stars, plus Rex Dexter, plus a horde of familiar faces including Captain Freedom, Phantom Lady, Thor and Uncle Sam. But will any of it be enough against the murderous powerhouse?

Comments: Larsen brings his A-game to the art chores this month, clearly enjoying the chance to showcase the other major players in the Image stable. The lines are numerous and precise, the details are textural and in full service of light and shadow, and the black costumes on Shadowhawk, Invincible, Spawn and others dramatic the fullest degree.

This is a serious and intense issue, with a building feeling of danger, but Larsen finds time to check in on his ongoing threads: his daughter Angel makes a surprising discovery in the Danger Zone, and both Rex and Shadowhawk raid Solar Man's lab in search of vulnerabilities.

These attempts at first seem to be hopeless, and brutal shocks are delivered as Solar bats the Dragon aside, tosses Witchblade into the crowd, and bashes in Invincible's face. Then Larsen pulls a maneuver I swear Roy Thomas made famous some decades ago, but it's such a nostalgic and fitting homage I can't gainsay it. After all, Savage Dragon has always been at heart a chance for Larsen the fanboy to look back lovingly at those wondrous Silver Age '60s books when Marvel was really taking off. Just as Thomas back in the '60s was looking back with fondness to the simple but bold Golden Age of the '40s in his search to combine the best of the past with the stars of the present.

In other words, Savage Dragon characters are a pastiche, a chance to do familiar tropes over but ask some different questions (sometimes the very inevitable one the model character always has to gloss over to keep going) and come up with some different outcomes. This tale is "What if Superman Were Evil?" combined with "What if the Oldest Heroes Had Never Died?" It's Larsen at his most clever and inventive.

Which doesn't mean we don't get our usual quotient of gore (from a bloodied but unbound Dragon) or cheesecake (from the habitually half-clad Witchblade and the ever lovely Phantom Lady). While we're not exactly seeing teamwork in action (everyone pursues their own agendas, and it's amusing to see the Image stars skulk away from the reporters' glaring lights after the battle), Larsen captures the free-for-all flare that still defines Image.



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