Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Savage Dragon #2

Published by: Image Comics

Original publication date: July, 1993

Creator/writer/penciler/inker: Eric Larsen
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorists: Steve Oliff and Reuben Rude
Editor: Jannie Wong


At a police department in Chicago, a hot blonde chick in tights enters. She introduces herself as Dart, a superhero from Detroit. She’s come to join the Chicago PD at the behest of Captain Stewart. Apparently, whenever Officer Dragon gets loaned out to another city’s police force and Chicago’s left without a super-type, the city goes to Hell. Suddenly, a Code Blue is reported and the police scramble. Naturally, with Officer Dragon out of town, all Hell is breaking loose.

Atop a building in New York City, Dragon is whining. Ever since he took down a villain named Chiropractor for New York, he’s been called up to the Big Apple to deal with their crap every other month. He wishes Supreme or the Youngbloods could’ve been called to deal with this new threat (a living gargoyle flying around snatching old ladies), since he hates New York and all its weirdos. And, like clockwork, the Ninja Turtles take him from behind!

The battle sends both sides tumbling off the roof of the building and into a trash-strewn alley. Recovering, Dragon introduces himself as a police officer and threatens to arrest the Turtles. Recognizing the celebrity, the Turtles apologize; they thought he was that living gargoyle that’s been on the loose in their city. The Turtles introduce themselves and offer to help Dragon track the gargoyle. Dragon reluctantly accepts, but when Mike and Leo start bickering over who jumped the gun first, he separates them and “encourages” them to stop clowning around.

Suddenly, the gargoyle attacks! It kicks Dragon into the side of a building and begins to fly away. The Turtles leap on its back and start pummeling it. Dragon recovers, then leaps into the sky and punches the gargoyle hard enough to shatter it into pebbles. As the Turtles and Dragon argue over whether magic could have brought the gargoyle to life or not, they fail to notice a mysterious woman with ridiculous hair observing the fight from the shadows. Leo wants to get to the bottom of who controlled the creature, but Dragon’s had enough and declares he’s going back to Chicago even without answers. The Turtles bid him farewell.

Over in DeKalb, Illinois, a paperboy enters a neighbor’s house to find a pool of blood and the moldy corpse of a woman. As the kid flees, a voice echoes from behind the basement door, “Hello…?”

To be continued…

Turtle Tips:

*The story continues in The Savage Dragon/TMNT #1.

*This issue also contained “Star” and “Vanguard” back-up stories.

*The thing in the basement is later revealed to be Sarah ‘Horridus’ Hill in The Savage Dragon #4. She’ll meet the Turtles in The Savage Dragon #22 and eventually become a supporting character in the Image TMNT (Vol. 3) series.


Ahhh, the Turtles’ first foray into the Image “universe”. I use the term “universe” loosely when in regards to Image Comics because, with all their series and characters being creator owned, members of that universe are constantly dropped whenever a creator moves on to another company. Look at the Maxx, who was a headliner in the company's first mega-crossover, "Altered Image" (or better yet, don't ever, ever look in the direction of "Altered Image"), but now has his reprints published by Wildstorm and his most recent guest appearance was in an IDW title. Then there's the Turtles-themselves, who are no longer a part of the Image “universe”, but that's if you want to go with the most obvious example.

Anyhow, this two-part storyline would prove to be the first of many crossovers with the Savage Dragon and his stable of supporting cast members. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get off to a very substantial start, hitting nearly all the most clichéd crossover checklist points: Some contrived threat draws one of the characters to another character’s hometown. There’s a misunderstanding and they fight. Suddenly, both characters realize that they’re on the same side and team up to take down their common foe. ...Yeah, it hits every single one of those tired old crossover clichés.

I guess part of the blame is the reduced page space, but even with two back-up stories, the A-plot gets 20 pages. Of course, that has to be shared with four pages of subplots relevant to the ongoing Savage Dragon storyline, so it’s really just 16 pages of Dragon/TMNT action. Regardless, not a whole heck of a lot happens.

Thankfully, this is only part one of the whole mess. The Savage Dragon/TMNT #1 gives us the rest of the story, but it still won’t end up amounting to more than a crossover of the most gratuitous variety. But more on that when I review the issue.

Larsen was one of those rising star artists of the early 90s and a heavy hitter when I was growing up. But then again, so was Rob Liefeld (brrrrr!). I wasn’t as big a fan of his back in the day as I was Todd McFarlane or Jim Lee, but I never had much of a problem with his style (save for a tendency to draw some freaky-big eyes). His writing on this issue may leave something to be desired, but his art’s impressive enough, boasting a pair of sweet two-page spreads and some great action staging. Though I tend to abhor visual concepts ripped from anime, I adore his use of blurry “speedlines” in the background as the Turtles leap into action. Something I normally hate, but for some reason, I just don’t mind when Larsen does it.

Overall, this issue’s got some cool art by a 90s comic celebrity and, of course, the built-in joy of seeing two properties crossover and having the characters interact, but there isn’t a whole lot of story substance. Thankfully, it’s all just build-up for the next issue, so don’t be too bummed.

Grade: C (as in, “Could Larsen draw the Turtles with sillier heads, though? And no, please, don’t misinterpret that as a challenge”.)