And Sometimes Independents Need to Stay Independent

SAVAGE DRAGON #2, Image Comics, July 1993
While Spawn welcomed indie anthropomorphic superstar Cerebus, Savage Dragon got indie anthropomorphic superstars the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Eastman and Laird's Turtles were the first independent comic to actually get mainstream success, albeit as watered down cartoon or movie versions of themselves. You gotta compromise in life if you don't want to be turned into soup or wax.

So I suppose it was a natural match to cross them over into Savage Dragon, another green, vaguely reptilian, indie hero in a comic that doesn't take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, while it could have been a great deal of fun, writer/artist Erik Larsen doesn't know what to do with them.

Chicago's resident super-cop is in New York tracking some kind of gargoyle when he's jumped by the Turtles. They fight. Then they realize they're on the same side and then, the gargoyle jumps them all. They fight it. And that's it. I sure wish it didn't all look like this:
A good day for the guy who sells green ink, but otherwise hard to follow and frankly, dull. The Turtles have interchangeable personalities here, and being the old school TMNT, all the same color masks. So all they've got to differentiate them is their weapons, and they're not always in-frame. No Splinter. No Shredder. It could've been any ninjas in this comic. Missed opportunities.

After the fight(s), the mystery villain is revealed as the illegitimate child of Wolverine and Rogue just back from the saline implant store, but she has no lines and they don't notice her.
The Dragon has this final line: "I wonder if we'll ever know what that was all about." Not in Savage Dragon, you won't. There's a comic by Mirage Studios that has the end of the story, but more "Gargoyle-smashing action" is NOT what I'm looking forward to right now (I own it, I just don't want to find it and read it at this point... hey, more material for later!).

To his credit, Larsen does try to give you more pages for your money. But more pages does not mean more story. There are a few pin-ups by different artists, and that's cool. There's a backup starring a character called Star: he meets a fiery villain called Inferno and they fight. A few more pin-ups. Then there's the introduction, in another backup strip, of an alien called Vanguard. He's in a holodeck thing, and he fights various computer-controlled opponents, no doubt to practice for the fights to come in future issues. And if any of these fights were particularly inspired, I'd give the comic a passing grade.

Quick count: 48 pages for 2.95$ US/3.70$ Canadian. Actually a good value, but if we break it down:
-30 pages: fighting.
-1 page: ad for the end of the crossover.
-1 page: letters page
-7 pages: pin-ups
-9 pages: story (non-fight)
Oh and the Savage Dragon appears in only 21 pages, including 3 pin-ups, 1 ad and as a hologram in the Vanguard story. Maybe Larsen really wanted to do a team book?

2 comments:

cardboardjudas said...

Larson did want to do a team book, and so he created Freak Force and the Kesel's wrote it and it was good, oh yes, it was good.

Anonymous said...

Meh. I've been told that I should try Savage Dragon sometime, that the storytelling is right up my alley.

I just can't get past Larsen's art, though. I hated it in the late 80's on the Punisher and Spider-Man, and I hate it to this day.

I'll grab an issue out of the .50 bin one day... maybe.

 

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