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 clich├ęs.
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.