One of the perks of this job is the complimentary review copies that we get from publishers, and it inspired me to revisit some characters that I had let fall to the wayside in the evolution of my taste in comics. One of those characters was The Savage Dragon. The last time I read any Savage Dragon was around issue #107. I just kind of fell away as the story seemed to have no direction for me after the resolution of the “This Savage World” storyline. Over the holidays, I had the chance to read the past year and a half, which features Dragon’s son Malcolm taking over the mantle. This has prompted me to seek out the issues that I’ve missed and here’s what I’ve learned about the character.
1. It’s About Two Characters Called Dragon. The series started way back in 1992 with the character that would be called Savage Dragon. There’s been different versions, due to Dragon’s time traveling, regeneration, cloning, etc, but only recently has Dragon’s son Malcolm stepped up to carry on the legacy.
The Dragon was the despotic Emperor Kurr of a nomadic alien race that, through a coup d’etat, was sent to Earth an amnesiac that took up a life as a crime-fighter first with Chicago Police Department, and later on his own and with the Federal Government’s Superhuman Strikeforce. One of his first relationships produced a son Malcolm, but his through his most serious relationship, he became the stepfather to Angel Murphy, who inherited her mother’s strength and durability. The original Dragon has voluntarily lost his powers and is, for all intent and purposes, no more powerful than a regular human being, and is working with the only other survivor of his race to repopulate his species while serving time in prison and awaiting execution for crimes he committed while his original personality of Emperor Kurr took over his body.
Malcolm is strong, durable, but lacks the powerful regenerative abilities that his father had. He operates as a bounty hunter and is usually the first one called when a super villain threatens Chicago. Some of Malcolm Dragon’s allies include his step-sister Angel Dragon, the Golden Age hero Daredevil and Rex Dexter, formerly known as Battle Tank. Among his rogues gallery is the second Dart, the murderous niece of the original hero, the extradimensional conqueror Mr. Glum and his partner, a version of Angel Dragon from an alternate universe, and the Vicious Circle, a criminal organization that plagued his father from his first days on Earth.
2. At Times It’s Not Appropriate For All Ages. It’s always been violent, and Erik Larsen has always employed the peek-a-boo nudity that mainstream comics has utilized for decades. As time has gone on, he has employed sexual themes as well, most recently with Malcolm Dragon and his live-in girlfriend.
3. Everything Progresses In Real Time. Given the two articles I’ve written about having characters age in real time, I love this concept, and I really didn’t have the chance to see it exhibited so much in the time I originally read it. Since then, we’ve seen Dragon’s son with Rapture age into near-adulthood and the beard that Dragon sometimes grows become white. Every character has gotten older, with many of the early supporting cast that hasn’t been killed aged along with the series. It’s refreshing and helps give the impression that the characters’ lives actually progress and change.