SAVAGE DRAGON #196


Writer and artist: Erik Larsen
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Nikos Koutis
Publisher: Image Comics

PREVIOUSLY: SAVAGE DRAGON #195

And here we have the latest issue of my favorite Black (okay, half-Black, but that’s good enough for me) teenage superhero (okay, he’s not technically a “superhero”, either…), Malcolm Dragon.

Dang, I don’t know what it is about Erik Larsen but he sure loves torturing this poor kid. It’s been a week since the last issue, and Malcolm is chained naked, with most of his skin burned off, in an apartment building in the crappiest part of Chicago, known as the Danger Zone. A local company has been polluting the water and turned hundreds of residents into freakish-looking mutants. They’re all poor people, living in the slums, so they don’t have any recourse, until they found Malcolm. They’ve tricked him into drinking the water so that he’ll eventually turn into a freak like them and then they plan to use him to go after the heads of that company and get revenge by killing them all.

Obviously, Malcolm has a bit of problem with that.

Meanwhile, Dart has had her Vicious Circle minions (I’m still waiting to find out how she became a bad guy and took over the VC) trying to find Malcolm, or at least find proof that he’s dead if he is. And now they’re terrorizing the residents of the Danger Zone, looking for him. Also looking for him in the Danger zone, even though it’s the last place a normal teenage girl should be, is Dragon’s girlfriend Maxine. And some police officers are searching for him too.

I don’t want to spoil too much. But let’s just say that when Malcolm does attempt to break free, much destruction occurs, all illustrated beautifully in Larsen’s signature style (he doesn’t hold back). And just when you think Malcolm may have the upper hand, well, I did mention the part about him drinking that contaminated water, right? Oh boy…

Another great issue. No matter how serious the consequences are, Larsen still manages to stick some humorous moments in here. When Malcolm first comes to, he’s still worried about missing school. There’s a funny shot of him later sitting on a toilet. And there’s a scene with Maxine on a date with a nice Asian guy that her parents set her up with, which helps establish how much she really cares for Malcolm. It almost makes sense that she’s the type of girl who’d risk her life to find him.

So I’m glad I started buying this title again, and am sticking with it. And in addition to the main story, there’s a 6-page backup, written by Gavin Higgonbotham and drawn by Scott James, featuring the former supervillain Neutron Bob. Bob’s given up the life of crime, but a couple of his old buddies from the Vicious Circle show up and announce that they’ve got someone watching Bob’s mother, and that she’ll be killed unless Bob agrees to help them committee a robbery. That’s a cool little story, featuring an appearance from some of Larsen’s other superheroes who shall remain nameless (no spoilers) and there’s a twist ending (I said NO SPOILERS).

Plus three little comic-strips, TRUTH SERUM by Jon Adams, MISERY LOVES SHERMAN by Chris Eliopoulos, and KNIGHT WATCHMEN by McKenzie/Ecker/Hansel/Carlson/Seltzer (that’s how it’s credited). That’s 30 pages of content (including the double-letters page) for $3.99. It’s quite a value for your money. So go get it!

SAVAGE DRAGON #196

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