SAVAGE DRAGON #197


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

PREVIOUSLY: SAVAGE DRAGON #196

Been a busy week, so I’m a few days late reviewing this issue, which came out last Wednesday. I’m going to take advantage of these extra days and assume that most fans of the series have already read it, which means I don’t have to be as concerned about spoilers as I usually am. And there’s several specific incidents in this issue that I just have to talk about, so I can’t hold back.

Picking right up from last issue’s cliffhanger, Malcolm has transformed into a mindless monster, thanks to the contaminated water that he was tricked into drinking by the residents of the “Danger Zone” in Chicago. The police on the scene try to use Maxine to calm him down, but that’s interrupted by several members of the Vicious Circle who attack him. After a swift but brutal fight Malcolm kills or defeats them all (although he loses his left foot in the process) but then is convinced by Zelda, the little freak girl from last issue, to go to Bellco Chemical, the company that’s been intentionally contaminating the Danger Zone, and get the cure which can revert the residents back to their original human forms.

I may need to re-read issue #196, because I don’t remember a cure being mentioned before. I though the DZ freaks just wanted Malcolm to get revenge for them by destroying the company and killing everyone who works there?

Anyway, Malcolm goes to Bellco and starts smashing stuff, but they shoot him guns filled with “Freak Out”, which is the name of the cure. Apparently that was Bellco’s plan, to turn the poor residents into freaks and then charge them for the cure. Malcolm is back to normal, but plans to take two guns filled with the cure back to the Danger Zone, but then Dart arrives. Pissed that her minions failed to kill Malcolm, she tries to do it herself. Armed with a sword she quickly slices both of Malcolm’s hands off, and blasts three police who are on the scene with exploding darts, until Malcolm manages to head-butt her unconscious.

Damn. Still waiting to find out how Dart got so f***ing evil.

We pick up an undetermined amount of time later with Malcolm recovering in the hospital. He’s hands (and presumably his foot) have grown back, thanks to a blood transfusion that the doctors were able to give him from some of his father’s blood that they had in storage. But as a consequence Malcolm has lost the electrical powers that he inherited from his mother. Then he gets a visit from Zelda, who was changed back to human and thanks him for that, and then from Maxine. Is it a happy ending for the two teen lovebirds? Well, that’s unclear.

Well, this was definitely an action-packed issue, that’s for sure. I would have thought that Larsen was going to drag out the Malcolm-turned-monster angle for a bit, including the Bellco Chemical/Danger Zone storyline, so I was surprised to see that resolved in just one issue. There’s a good scene in the issue where Maxine is talking to the police about all the trouble Malcolm gets into and the cop is all (I’m paraphrasing) “What do you expect? He’s a superhero. Freaky sh*t is always happening to them. If you’re gonna be with him then you’d better get used to it!” Since she’s still there at the end of the book, that means she’s not scared off just yet. But Malcolm’s dad didn’t exactly have the best luck in the romance department either and since, as I’ve mentioned before, Larsen seems to enjoy putting poor Malcolm through the ringer, I’m not expecting things to be smooth for them.

But one thing I’m really not happy with is the removal of Malcolm’s electric powers. I felt like that was the main thing that differentiated Malcolm from his father, and it was a reminder that he is Rapture’s son, keeping her spirit alive in the book. I feel like that was a big mistake.

This issue also included some extras, starting with HOMECOMING, a 6-page story about the character Vanguard, written by Gary Carlson and drawn by Frank Fosco, which has him and his friends revisiting his old home-world. I was never particularly interested in this character so that story didn’t interest me, although there are some bits dealing with the original Dragon’s background and the alien race that he comes from. And then some comic-strips, MISERY LOVES SHERMAN by Chris Eliopoulos, AVERAGE DRAGON by Simon Mallette St. Pierre, and KNIGHT WATCHMAN by Mckenzie/Hansel/Carlson/Rodgers.

So it’s still a good package for $3.99, and Savage Dragon is still one of the most entertaining titles on the market.

SAVAGE DRAGON #197

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