Comic Name: Savage Dragon (Limited Series)/Savage Dragon
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Erik Larsen
Artist: Erik Larsen
# of Issues: 24
Release Date: 2007
Reprints Savage Dragon (Limited Series) #1-3 and Savage Dragon #1-22 (July 1992-September 1995). Meet the Dragon…a “freak” found without memory but possessing incredible strength and regeneration abilities. Fortunately, the Dragon is on our side and working for the Chicago Police Department in an attempt to stop the rising amount of freaks in the area. With as many naysayers as supporters, the Dragon has a tough road ahead of him as he battles enemies as a member of the force like the kingpin Overlord and on a person level like the Fiend…and the Dragon doesn’t back down!
Written and illustrated by Erik Larson, Savage Dragon Archives—Volume 1 collects the first three issue limited series of Savage Dragon and the first twenty-one issues of the long running series. The reprints are black-and-white but originally collected in color in Savage Dragon 1: Baptism by Fire, Savage Dragon 2: A Force to Be Reckoned With, Savage Dragon 3: The Fallen, Savage Dragon 4: Possessed, and Savage Dragon 5: Revenge.
Savage Dragon was part of Image Comics’ launch titles. Along with Spawn, the series has been one of Image Comics’ longest running comics. The Dragon originally appeared in Graphic Fantasy #2 (January 1982) then later appeared in Megaton #2-3 (October 1985-February 1986). Larsen reintroduced the character for the Image Universe.
Savage Dragon was a slightly reflexive comic. The storylines often mimicked stories from Marvel Comics and DC Comics, but also mocked them at the same time. Unlike some of Grant Morrison or Alan Moore’s out-and-out riffs on the super-hero genre, Larsen seemed to be out to provide a super-hero comic with some deeper exploration. Plus, he really liked to insert commentary on things he liked and disliked (like the Dragon wearing an Aimee Mann t-shirt and a lengthily discussion on whether Forrest Gump is any good).
The art and story somewhat falls into the Image trap however. Image Comics’ really banked on popular artists at the time of its launch and the stories didn’t always hold up. The females are really bad stereotypes (with even She-Dragon addressing the “camera” on her shapely body). The action was very kinetic and not always easy to follow with issues sometimes just being a big fight…made even more difficulty by the black-and-white format of the Archives model that follows in the line of DC’s Showcase and Marvel’s Essentials (but at least Savage Dragon was released on a slightly more regular schedule than most of the Image titles).
I always found Savage Dragon one of the more interesting Image Comics’ when he appeared. The comic was a bit of an action film combined with a skewering of the comic book genre with allusions to mainstream comics like Spider-Man and Superman. Rereading the early Savage Dragon has shown that in some ways, Savage Dragon showed maturity (especially in comparison to other Image Comics), but also fell into the Image Comic trap. This volume is good, but leaves you looking forward to a deeper, less art heavy exploration of the character and ideas.