Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Savage Dragon 13

The Savage Dragon Issue 13.  


Issue 13 opens with Dragon in the hospital  getting those bite wounds, he got  from  issue 12 checked out. 
Where  he  is roused by his partner to check out a Cyberface sighting in the underground. 
As he leaves, he briefly meets with Peter Klaptin, before rushing off. 
In the mean time, The Fiend makes an offer to Mrs Harris  she can't  refuse.
And  both Freak Force and The Wildcats go at it.
Down in the underground  Dragon  goes  down alone  and meets up with Star, who just happens to be  there. 
After a short  and terse stand off between  Dragon, Star and  some of the  super freaks, who live in the  underground.  More level heads prevail and dragon is allowed by the nominal leader Rock, to search the premises.
He ends up finding nothing. 
Just then he  is called in  to deal with the fight between two  super teams 
and he deals with it rather easily.  (  and amusingly) 

Finally  Mighty Man  revels his  secret identity to Dragon. 

Writer\Artist\Inker : Erik Larsen
Letters : Chris Eliopolous
Colors : Reuben Rude and Antonia Kohl
Editor : Jannie Wong   

Josh Eichorn Title : Uproariously Unfunny.

Notes : This is the second  issue 13.  It was released seven months after  the first  issue  13, along side Savage Dragon  20, in June 1995. 
For clarifications sake, the review will be referring to the June 95  13 as 13B.

Review  :

Savage dragon 13  is a bit of an  odd  one. 
In that  there are two issue 13's. 
Originally,  the  first  issue 13  hit  during Image  cross over  month. 
Which was a  gimmick month  where all the Image creators switched books. 
Larsen did  Wildcats. 
Jim Lee ended up  on  The Savage Dragon. 
Jim Valentino  ended up  with  Youngblood,  (  and credit to him actually  produced a  decent issue, in an otherwise dire series.  )
While Marc Silvestri ended up on Spawn. ( I have no idea what McFarlane did in the  crossover month)  

And here lies the problem, while the art in the Jim Lee issue 13 is perfectly serviceable,  the story is not.
It basically  turns in to the Grifter show, with Dragon himself being turned in to a guest star in his own book. 
And this isn't exactly  in the spirit  of  the  crossover month, nor  what  we Savage Dragon readers wanted to read. 

Erik seemed to agree.  because it seemed to stick in his craw,  7 months  later  he released  his own issue 13.  This issue 13B, along side  issue  20. 
Another reason  he  gave for releasing his own  issue 13, was because he wanted to have a  full run  on his title. 
From beginning to end  and considering Larsen is still writing and drawing The Savage Dragon as of today  and  has  written and drawn every  issue, he seemed to have made the right  call. 

That is the issue 13  I will be reviewing today. 
The Lee issue 13 is not on the table at all. It's a  diversion, a tangent at  best  a  poor showing  for the crossover at worst. 

Issue  13 B also  shows  us the first  meeting between  Peter Klaptin and Dragon. And  again shows us that  something isn't  quite right  there. 
And later on  we meet Star in the underground, what a coincidence  !
The underground from issue 1 is also back and it introduces us  to  a  group of  homeless superfreaks. Who will later on will become major  secondary characters  (  isn't that  a  contridictionary in terms  ? )
Including  Widow, Rock, Beast Boy and Radical.
There will be others  and mostly they are just here  to set up  their re apperances  later on in the series. 

But more importantly The Fiend meets Mrs Harris and  she  agrees  to bonding with him. 
This  is the first step of her becoming a deadly  thorn in Dragon's side that  springs on him  at the most inopportune moments, from now untill issue 32. 
And her  first  previous appearance as the Fiend in issue 18, with out this  issue  kinda  came out of  bloody nowhere.  

Speaking of mrs Harris,  she understandably  really let herself go.  ( though that spandex is a bit un becoming.  )
But it's her  unreasonable personality that  drains away  every little bit of  sympathy, the reader may have had for her, permanently. 
she still  blames Dragon for the death of her daughter, even though he had nothing  to do with it. 
And its starting to become a bit irritating.
Mrs Harris is a  broken record that never changes her tune and for this series, she is a rather disappointing one note character, that blames her own mistakes on the main  character.
As the super hero comics, the image  creators  tore away from, are wont to do. 
Even worse is that she will be around for a while and her one note  personality  and  motivation  will really start to grate by then.  

The crossover  between Freak Force and  The Wildcats comes a bit out of left field and it's off course a fight because of  mistaken identity. 
What is unusual however, is that Dragon walks  on  the battle field  and more or less  asks Grifter what the hell  they are doing. 
Before Grifter admits  they screwed up and calls his  team off. 
Which is a much better  resolution then the  usual. This isn't the first time Larsen poked  fun at  forced  fights in crossovers though. 
He did it in Marvel Comics Presents  48-50  and  again in Savage Dragon mini series 3. 
This crossover however is a lot better then  the original issue 13, because  neither  side comes off better. 
Each  team is in character and none come off worse for the wear.  

But issue 13B  isn't even done  there yet. 
It clears up a mystery  which has been  hanging  around  for a while now.
And while its not a huge mystery, it is time  for it to be cleared up. 
The new Mighty Man turns out to be nurse Ann Stevens. 
Yup, I am not joking.  

Issue 13B  is one of the best Savage Dragon issues there is. 
It manages to be a segue between  12 and 13. A crossover  as well as  several set up's introductions and mysteries revealed  and a lead in to  issue 14  and it manages to do all this seamlessly  7 month later.
In other words : this is what  issue 13A should have looked  like. 

If  you didn't know about it you wouldn't noticed it or missed  13 at all.
But  now that  its here,  its  a key  part of the on going Dragon series and unmissable. 
This is how  you do a crossover while not  diminishing the  main character or the visiting  characters and with out  grinding the ongoing  plots  to a halt. 
issue 13B  reads a bit disjointedly, but that's normal  for this series, which tends to jump  all over the place. 

Recommended reading  after the poor showing of  8, 9 and  10,  the  series is back  on track. 

Also Larsen answered a few  common  questions  about Dragon's background in the letters page  which you can find here  >> 

I Hate Fairyland 4 Review


Gertrude isn't  dead  !
Huge surprise I know. 
Gertrude  is having none of this  second guest nonsense, and  pulls  the  Queen of  Fairyland herself  through  a mirror, to have a little friendly talk. 
This goes as well as expected. 
And  after the little tete a tete,  Gertrude  puts two and two together.
And again, she will have none of that. 
As Happy goes on with her quest to find the key of Fairyland, Gertrude set off  to  find one of the evil doom's of Fairyland. 
And  naturally she finds him, with a minimum off fuss.
Assuming  you  call  trekking through the doomed forests, 
Survive the bawling fields,
Scale the  peaks of the snoring snotties
and out run the Boggle breath,  to reach The Skull Island Of  Mountain Doom Island*  ! 
It's all very skully. 
Inside  Gertrude  appears ever so humbly ..ahem before  one of the evil dooms and  asks him to grant her his power. 
The dark lord  ( no, not Sauron)  agrees, but only if she  proves her self. 
To be continued.
Also naturally.  

Writer\artist : Skottie Young. 
Colors : Jean Francois Beaulieu.
Letters : Nate Piekos.

Notes : *  The island isn't actually named that, it's not named at all. I just thought it was fitting.  

Review :
I hate fairyland is back  ! Oh yes  !
And it's a  bloody ongoing (  or  maxi series  )  now  !
That's  a neat trick  when the  main character is dead  isn't it  ?
Oh, off course Gertrude isn't dead  ! 
Let's  find out  how she undeads her self in  I Hate Fairyland 4 shall we  ?

Get back here  !
As it turns out, she isn't  really dead at all, just looking a tad scruffy. 
Part of the  fairyland  spell that  protects  guests. 
Normally I would find this a rip off and cop out, but for this series I don't mind too much, even if Young  is pulling that trick a bit to often  in these pages.
And Gertrude is getting healed a bit too easily. 
Hopefully after the first arc is over, this will be changed up  but we will have to adopt a wait and see approach for that. 
Mostly because I don't have any of the new issues as of yet. 
Anyway  !

The majority of issue  4  is recapping the plot and the  Queens eeeeeevil plot, 
such as it is. 
In the case of two guests, who ever  reaches the key first  will  be returned to their world, while the other  guest becomes  a resident of Fairyland. 
And, we all know where this is going don't we  ?
Loses the protection  spell. 
Which is what Queenie is banking on, so she can  finally kill Gertrude.
With extreme prejudice. 
And extreme slowness no doubt.
Gertrude  has her own  ideas about this situation, most of which are probably unprintable. 
Anyway as Happy is  going on her  quest of questness, which is going disconcertingly  easy for her.  (  Hmmm, is it  rigged ? Probably ! ) 
Gertrude  goes on a quest of her own. 
To  become the apprentice of  Darekth Deaddeath !  The  esident eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil, ..ahem of Fairyland. 
We end with  lord  Deaddeath  agreeing to  lend his powers to Gertrude, 
but only  AFTER  she  proves her self. 
Because isn't that  the way it always goes  ?

Well as far as, I Hate Fairyland goes,  issue 4 is a bit off a disappointment.
Off course after the  cliffhanger of  3  and the major tease of the cover i have,  it cant be anything  BUT  disappointing. 
It also is a bit of a  holding pattern, telling us things we already  know  or  repeating  things. 
As such it's a bit of a good  mid way point or  jumping on  point.
But  as  part  4  of a  5 part storyline, it  is somewhat disappointing.
The manic energy  seems to be  gone a bit. 
Thats not to say its not a perfectly criomulent  issue.
It is that,  but  there is nothing  in issue  4  that  couldn't be covered in issue  3,  save for that  cliffhanger and  tease of a cover. 
As it is,  issues 3 and 4 could have been  combined in to one issue.
And I Hate Fairyland would have been  quite a taut little  four parter.
There is stil the fairly amusing  juxtaposition of Happy's rather easy going  quest, through a wonderland proxy and all the  twisted little parodies that come with  wringing  out  fairy tale clichés.
And Gertrude's  dark  blood soaked  fable parallels,  or disgusting  in the case of the snotties.
And lord Darkdeath is a fairly amusing  parody of all the Dark Lords, equally amusing is how  easily he is willing to  listen to Gertrude.
But  issue 4 is still very  much a holding pattern.  

But not too worry there will be  MORE fairlyand shenanigans soon  !
Lets hope issue 5  will do better.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Gold Digger 05

Gold Digger 05 

Summary : Jetta is back. 
Did we miss her ?
No ?  Oh alright then.
And she  laments that she has become soft  and lazy  in  paradise, as she puts her son down to  train. 
However  her son is  kidnapped by Cheetah  who escapes with the  mewling mutt, through  a  teleportation portal, which stays conspicuously open. 

Off course this isn't Brittany, but Tanya masquerading as Brittany. Setting her plans in  motion, knowing that Jetta in her rage will follow. 
The next  part of her plan is to lure Brittany away  from Strype  and teleports Brittany  to  the catacombs of the palace, right in the  path of Jetta.
Who is off course in no mood to talk, or listen for that  matter. 

While Brittany and Jetta  work over their grievances. 
Tanya  masquerading as  Brittany  has a few choice words to sabotage Strype and Brittany's relationship.
Unfortunately for her, she has  counted outside of  Dr Diggers presence who can see through her disguise. 
And gets a bead on Brittany in the catacombs. 

He materialises  in between Jetta and Brittany and Jetta  kills him with out a second thought.
This enrages  Brittany  to the point that Jetta is no match for her anymore  and Tanya is forced to bring Thabian, Jetta's husband in. 
Who is more then match  for Brittany, but is also more level headed then Jetta and  concludes that Brittany did not  abduct their son.
Jetta is in no mood to listen.   
As Jetta wants to finish Brittany off, Dr Diggers interferes, being not  quite as dead as previously thought. 

Credits :
Writer artist Fred Perry
Editor : Doug Dlin 

And you can read along with this link.
Best way to read it, is to download Comic_rack
And install Ghostscript
But Adobe Reader works fine too

Notes : Released on 1 November  1993
This is nominally issue 9, if  the mini  is  included.
Second appearance of Pojo.

Review  :

Like Gina  before her, this time  Brittany gets the spotlight. 
But is it  just as good  ?
Almost, but no quite.

Well no, that's not entirely true. It's a perfectly  fine issue. It's just Tanya's  motivation that  let  it down. 
Her motivation is both cliché and one dimensional  and not befitting the rather serious  tone of issue  5.
Because  it is serious, the  poor motivation of the main antagonist not withstanding.
We also see the  return of  Jetta and her husband Thabian.
A return  I wasn't really thrilled  to  see but  Jetta is a  worthy  opponent of  Brittany and probably  one of the few  physical  opponents that can actually stand up against her, at this point in the series. 

Most of this  issue is  a fight scene between Jetta and Brittany where Brittany is  hopelessly outclassed, despite training. 
While Tanya  plays the rest of her  hand. 
It's her doing  to  kidnap  Jetta's son  disguised  as  Brittany to move Brittany in  a  kinda  angry Jetta's  vincity. 
And to  try and destroy Strype and Brittany's relationship again disguised as Brittany. 

We also get to see  DR Diggers in action and  its obvious that he is a lot more powerfull, the he has ever let on  thus far.
This is a perfectly fine issue.
It's a great issue  actually. A show case of  Brittany's  personality with out  completely assassinating her character  and turning her in to a ditzy  valley girl, like later issues  will do. 
As well as reintroducing  Jetta and her husband  and showing  how dangerous  both Brittany and Jetta can be, when pushed  to their limits.
Brittany however is  more reluctant to kill, even when driven to a rage. 
As well as setting Thabian up, as the reasonable one. 
Then again in issue 4 of the mini he was already  the  more level headed of the two werewolves and  is a powerhouse, able to take out Brittany with  ease.
As well as  putting two and two  together  and  coming to the conclusion that Brittany  is not  the kidnapper. 

But Tanya's  motivation is flimsy. 
Thankfully however  she  immediately plays her hand right away,  and this  wont be a long running  plot poin.t
Unlike later issues,  where Perry  really  plays it  for the long run. 
There is very  little levity and very little humor here. 
Much  like  issues  3 and  4. 
Which is  actually,  what makes it  a  great  issue. No humor for the sake of humor no  gags or pop culture  references.
Just a story that can stand on it's own two merits.
And sometimes I wish the series was more like this. 
But then if it was, it wouldn't be Gold Digger.

issue 5  also  gives  a single page  to  Brianna,  Genn and  Gina interacting. Which is the only source of levity in this issue and even  this  page  is not as over the top,  as will become  customary in this  title. It's fairly lowkey  and mostly  just world building.

Issue 5  keeps the same high  quality issue 4 did, albeit with a slight misfire in Tanya's motivation. 
But  her idea is actually sound, nor does  the storyline linger.
It gets  going  immediately. 
The other misfire is not  the comic's fault. The scan  quality in the Gold Digger online archive is deplorable and hard to read. 
But it's a great issue non the less and  the third in a string of great issues. 

The Savage Dragon 12

The Savage Dragon  12

Summary :

Faux Frank's back  !
He gets blown up by Overlord  !
In the mean time Dragon's colleagues read his fan mail  out loud  after his appearance on the jerry rivers show. 
He had hoped it would lead to  anything about his past, but as it turns out its all just crackpot mail.
Including one from a girl named Amy Belcher, who wants to become his partner in fighting crime. 
A new vigilante with the name Justice,  is doing the rounds  in  an  "specatcular" manner.

While discussing Mace declining  the offer from the police force with Alex, Dragon gets a call  from  dispatch about a super freak  tearing in to the guards at Donner electronics. 
Both Justice and She Dragon  noticed something was up and assumed the other is the culprit. 
And naturally a fight ensues, until Dragon  appears on the scene and tells them to knock it off or he will knock their heads. 
He tells Alex to  shoot the two dimbulbs  if they move while he  goes  looking around to see if the  intruder is still around.

And he is, and he bites Dragon's head  !
Dragon in turn, repays Openface in kind by ripping his tongue out. 
In the Visceous Cricle tower a creepy scientist examines  the remains of Faux Frank. 
And he  concludes that this was neither human, nor Frank Darling.  

Credits :

Writer-Artist : Erik Larsen 
Letters : Chris Eliopolous
Colors  : Reuben Rude
Editor : Jannie  Wong

Josh Eichorn title : Brazen Hussy

Notes : First  full fledged  appearance  of She Dragon as She Dragon.
First  appearance of Justice.
First appearance of Openface  and  Octopus

Review  :

Well the cover says it all  doesn't it  ?
But first, we get  a very familiar  looking opening page, one we have seen before in issue  7. 
To Larsen's credit he doesn't  lay dumb with us he doest play the  audience for a fool. 
The opening narration tells us exactly, what's going on here. 
The Frank we see here is a fake, a robot  and he is here because his last  command was to  arrest Overlord. So he will. 
This nicely explains what's been going on, recaps the previous few issues.
Brings new readers up to speed and doesn't play the  audience for a fool. 
The story has already been  blown wide open in issue 11, so there is no  sense in pretending and Larsen doesn't bother to obfuscate.  It's dealt with right away.  

Overlord doesn't  really  deal with it that well  and starts to  think that something is wrong after he  blows  Faux Frank to atoms again.  ( Gee ya think  ?  )

The scene that follows is Dragon's  colleagues reading  some of the  "fan" mail, he received after the Jerry Rivers show. 
Which is the usual crackpot mail you can expect, but what makes this  scene amusing and worthwhile is that some of the  letters are paired up to  the faces and reaction shots of  his name colleagues. And for a moment  you  are suspended in disbelief, because they just might actually be saying that.  

Most of this issue is given over to the  big introductionary fight between Justice, who  runs around in super patriot's old pyjama's.  (  Justice is  Superpatriot's son. He  also has a  daughter, Liberty. 
Yes Liberty and Justice this will be revealed in Superpatriot's second mini series.  )
And She Dragon,  over a misunderstanding. 
It's about as thrilling as it sounds, even though Larsen portrays it  with his usual enthusiasm. The heroes fight each other, to fill pages trope was as tired  in 1994  as  it is now.
One could argue it's because of She Dragon and Justice both being  totally inept and new at this job.
 ( See  Justice over shooting  two drug dealers, while jumping down and landing in a  dumpster  )

Remember She Dragon ?   The green skinned, blond haired woman, who was a back ground character way back in  VS Megaton Man 1  ?
No  ?
Well here she is again,  She Dragon  ( not at all a pun  on She Hulk  )  is re introduced here and she will  remain to be a major player in the series.
Right now  however, she is a bit rough around the edges and that's a polite way  to say inept and useless. 
Pretty much  the same like Justice then. 

There is also a  rather gruesome scene where  the  burglar, who caused all this jumps  on Dragon and  turns out he can split his face in half, to reveal a huge  maw with  even bigger teeth  ! 
Naturally he decides to  clamp his big jaw on Dragon's, head who tend proceeds to rip his tongue out with his own teeth. 
Just to give the comic that  touch of savage, that the  title proclaims. 

Savage dragon 12 is a  perfectly  fine  perfectly middle of the road  issue of the title. 
It introduces new  characters. 
Offers up some  action, a few gross out moments and some humor. 
Other then the introductions and the opening scene, it doesn't really move the story forward in any way shape or form  but  they don't all have to do that.  

Except the last page where  the remains of Faux Frank are being studied and the  creepy  cyber engineer concludes that its not human  or Darling, and it never was.
Which is our cue for the unravelling of Frank and Dragon's dashingly  fiendish scheme.

Issue 12 is neither monumental  (  bar that tongue rip scene  )  nor exceptional, but its at least  not a misfire  like 9 was. 
But perfectly middle of the road  and  you can do a whole lot worse then that.
Released during a time when the Image bubble started to deflate a bit. Where at least  one Image founder  was a decent writer and willing to keep pushing his title forward.
Because unlike other comics, The Savage Dragon is never content to linger too much in the same status  quo.