Pick of the Week

February 26, 2009 – Savage Dragon #145

What did the
community think?

Size: pages
Price: 3.50

A while ago I was talking with a friend about my comic book collection, specifically the titles we’ve collected the longest. Sure everyone knows about my love and adoration of the X-Men line of books, and they easily dominate my collection. But it may come as a bit of a surprise that second or third on that list of books I’ve collected for the longest is Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen.

For those not in the know, Savage Dragon was Larsen’s first book with Image. While the other Image founders expanded their lines of comics, Larsen always stayed laser focused on his one title (sure there were spin offs like Freak Force and mini series like Super Patriot, but Larsen has always kept the Dragon flame alive). I can’t tell you what attracted me to Savage Dragon back in 1993, but something about it always grabbed me. It could have been the street level aspect (the main character, Savage Dragon was a cop for many years) or the obvious reverence for comics in general that Larsen showed while doing this comic. I don’t know, but whatever it was, I liked it. I liked it a lot.

I was bummed a few years ago when Larsen took over as Publisher of Image Comics. Don’t get me wrong, I think he was an amazing publisher and is one of the main reasons why Image is where it is today. But I knew that Savage Dragon would suffer, and suffer it did. Delayed and rarely published, bogged down by crazy continuity and convoluted storylines, Savage Dragon became Erik Larsen’s playground, to experiment with his process (hand lettering for instance) and story telling. I was fine with that, but it was a shadow of the greatness that I knew Larsen was capable of. But then Larsen stepped down as publisher and then a funny thing happened, he busted his ass and got the book back on track.

I’ve mentioned on the show recently about how Savage Dragon was being published practically bi-weekly, with each issue building a momentum that would lead to something good. Well that building has finally paid off, and with this issue, Savage Dragon is officially back on track and something we all should be excited about.

Now, I know practically none of you are reading this comic book, which needs to be rectified. If you’re looking for a good jumping on  point, listen up:


Larsen has been able to get the book back on track in a very elegant manner. No cosmic reset button, no messy retcons, no comic book logic to explain something away. Nope. Instead Larsen has taken the character he’s developed over the years and all the baggage that comes with it, and has accepted it. For all the talk about status quo changes and what not, I hold up Savage Dragon #145 as an example of comic bookin’ done right. As opposed to feeling the need to justify or change previous storylines, Larsen has simply accepted it for what it is. Dragon happens to have two kids, both from confusing origins, but he doesn’t let that get in the way. Dragon has two kids, that’s all we need to know. A lot of crap has gone one with parallel universes and crazy heroes and the like, but that’s all behind us now.

With this issue, we’re re-introduced to Dragon via the narration of his old friend, Frank, a cop who originally recruited Dragon to the Chicago police force to help fight the super powered gang, the Vicious Circle. The Vicious Circle is apparently back and the police are over matched and Frank recruits Dragon to the police force once again. These were the best years of the Savage Dragon comics, if you ask me, when he was a cop fighting the Vicious Circle. So I was so excited to see Larsen going back to these types of stories. But really, I should know better… because at the very end of the comic, Larsen pulls the rug out from under us, in the way that only he can. Again, this is just  comic bookin’ done right.

I’d be remiss not to mention the Obama cameo in this issue. I know that’s been a go to device for a lot of publishers these days, but if you ask me, of all the comics to use Obama in them, Dragon’s have been the most well done of them all. But that’s just me.

Even if you don’t like this comic book, you have to respect the work and love Erik Larsen puts into it. Writing, drawing, inking and caring for Savage Dragon is what Larsen does best. I’m elated to see it back on track and urge you to give it a shot. Don’t worry about the past, just pick this issue up and give it a shot.

Ron Richards
I literally gasped at the end.


  1. Sounds like it might be worth it…



    $3.50 though?

  2. I’ve been picking up the odd issue of Savage Dragon here and there over the years, and have been super-confused. But I might give it another go based on your review. Thanks Ron! 🙂

  3. I love this book. Glad to see it is finaly a pick.

    3.50 is worth it, Dragon usually has one or two backups and an awesome letter page as well.

  4. goodness its almost 4am here and ive been waiting for the potw. thought you forgot lol. mustve been the time difference.

  5. my LCS was sold out of this because of the fucking Obama cover.  I hope I can pick it up at wondercon…

  6. You’ve sold me!

  7. i’ll like to read Savage Dragon but i just don’t know where to start! Is this a good jumping on point?

     you know, i have absolutely no experience with this title… maybe i’ll give it a go

  8. I am a long time fan of this title too. I have every single issue of the book. I have never missed one. It is rare to get to see this kind of development of a creators art and story telling. I still look forward to the book every month and I think getting the Dragon on schedule publishing wise and back in blue story wise is another sign of the renaissance going on in the image universe. Great pick Ron…

  9. Is the first trade hard to find?

  10. Great pick Ron!  Can’t agree with you more – I haven’t been this excited for an issue of Dragon to hit the stands in 10+ years.  Please try and interview Larsen for the video show at Wonder-Con this weekend!

    @chlop – you should be able to find the first trade on eBay.  However, as Ron pointed out, this issue is a really great jumping on point.  Larsen cleared up a lot of the dangling plot threads over the past 5~6 issues so you should be able to pick this one up and enjoy it like it is the first issue of a new series.

  11. You guys must’ve had a good time at ‘In-N-Out’, 4am in the morning? Jeez

    I should start picking this up, although I have to say…..#145 is a great jumping on point? I would imagine I would still be confused on what the hell is going on with the character. I would love to find the first couple of trades and see where this goes however.

    My pick was Incredible Herc btw.

  12. All the Marvel and DC titles started in the 60’s, but people who weren’t born then jump on to reading them.  What number did most people start reading Amazing Spider-Man or Detective Comics?  Why does everything need to be read from the beginning?

  13. @josh: I’m just stating that even if this book has a jumping on point status, there has to be elements of previous story arcs in this. So it cant be offically reader friendly.

  14. @josh: If I can explain further real quick. My pick, Incredible Herc, is a great jumping on point because it literally has nothing to do with the earlier plots. It’s just two ‘one and done’ stories that gives the origin of Herc.

    Here in ron’s review; that there are characters and plot elements from previous arcs….So how is this a great jumping on point if I need to know these character before hand?

    Having said all of that, I am definitely gonna get the first couple of trades in the future.

  15. @TNC-You can be stuck at In-n-Out for a while just to get a burger.  Don’t joke.  Ands there are always pre-established characters in a book, no matter when you jump on board.  You instigator.

    Ron’s been talking about this for months.  And for the most part I have been ignoring him (hey, I’m being honest here!)  I just assumed it was one good issue, maybe two, so it wasn’t really going to be worth checking out for me.  But the fact that he continues to talk it up quite a bit…well it just might actually be worth checking out.  Hell, you converted a few people onto Dynamo 5, why not Savage Dragon right?

  16. I jumped on last issue (THANK YOU, RON).

    $3.50 is always worth it when it comes to supporting a creator-owned project, especially when it’s THIS GOOD.

  17. I never touched a Savage Dragon comic until Ron gave me some from the 130s several months back. I just picked up those random issues and dove in. Despite characters I didn’t know dealing with storylines that started without me, I can tell you without hesitation that if you are lost reading an issue of this comic some important part of your brain tissue has been removed by an incompetent surgeon. This isn’t academic esoterica; it’s a story about a guy who punches guys, written for people to buy and read it. I don’t know why people always have to act like they’re enrolling in a semester of college math. "Do I have the prerequisites?! My GPA…!" Settle down and enjoy yourselves, would you please?

  18. When I bought my first comic in 1988, and it was Amazing Spider-Man #315, it was smack dab in the middle of a story that had been going on for 30 years to that point.  I survived, and look at me now!

  19. One of my first books I got as a kid was Savage Dragon Meets Megaton Man.  It was in a pack with a bunch of Image books my mom got me for Christmas.  I think the others were mostly Youngblood or some Liefeld monstrosity (I remember some guy took the other guy and pushed his knee into his back until his rib cage came out…) I hated the other books but I loved the Savage Dragon/Megaton Man book.  It really was great fun.

  20. Just this year I’ve picked up Guardians of the Galaxy and Ghost Rider mid-arc, and have been collecting them ever since.  To me, pretty much any issue in an ongoing series is a good jumping on point. 

  21. Hmmm…. Savage Dragon has always been a title I’ve wanted to try but never got around to. I actually have Issue #1 sitting in a beat up longbox that my cousin gave me when he got out of comics. (If you love WCW Wrestling Comics, I have some gems for you!) I was a big Spawn fan, but never a greater Image Comics fan. However, recently I’ve started to sample the non-Big Two books. Just this past week I had 4 books from IDW, one of which was my POW. (Doctor Who: Whispering Gallery). ANd I bought some Image trades this week, too. Hoping to expand my comic horizons.

    Next week, which I think is a light week, I may be picking up Savage Dragon. Great picks as always.

  22. im buyin it!

  23. I haven’t read this issue yet, but for what it’s worth, I’d say that Larsen has purposely written most of the last 144 issues to be pretty good jumping on points. Part of it probably stems from Larsen’s huge Kirby era influence, but part of it is like Jimski said: the plots aren’t too complicated. I read my cousin’s copies of the original mini-series in 1993, then didn’t revisit Savage Dragon until issue 65, which was right in the conclusion of several plot thread that had been around (I later found out) for dozens of issues. The characterization was so great that I kept buying more and eventually had all the back issues.  speaking of jumping on points, some of the issues in the 130s had notes from Larsen cautioning that those specific issues were NOT good jumping on points, but that he was just wrapping up some plots that had gotten a little squirrely with his crazy schedule as publisher. After those warning, though, he mentions that his issues are typically fun to jump onto, and I definitely agree. Like Ron said, Dragon is a big green strong guy who has two kids and he fights people while having and attitude that is a combination of Peter Parker and Hellboy. Enjoy.

  24. Wanted to get it today but my LCS was sold out.

  25. I like Savage Dragon, but can’t stand Obama.

  26. Talk about politics elsewhere please.

  27. I don’t know why I haven’t tried this book yet.  I honestly don’t.  I ought to.  Hmm…..

  28. You don’t need to read the old stuff to jump on… but it is great and you should read it eventually, just don’t worry about reading it before this.  AFTER you’ve bought this issue, go get the two Savage Dragon Archives collections, which are "Essential" style, phone book size, black and white books collecting the original mini series and the first 50 issues of the series.  OR, if you don’t like that format, there is a hardcover in the style of the Invincible Ultimate Collections coming out in June.

  29. Ooo…the last one that i read was the crossover with Superman…and i was confused with Savage Dragon….I pass!

  30. I have the first 11 trades of this series and they’re fantastic.  If Richards deems that this is a good point to jump on, I’m definitely going start picking it up monthly because I’ve been waiting for Larsen to put out trades to let me catch up.  I’ll definitely grab this at the store next week.

    Also, this had to have been good because after I read Dynamo 5 this week, I totally thought that would be the pick.  It was sssssooooo good! 

  31. I’m really surprised you didn’t pick Nova.

  32. can’t do it, the character is way too dumb lookin.

  33. I will say, of all the founding Image titles, I appreciate that this is the one that truly lasted.  Of all the books I read out of Image at the time of its beginnings, this one is the one that definately had the most care and quality in it even if it wasn’t as edgy as Youngblood or Spawn was.  Goes to show you leg straps come and go but comics made by people who really love their work will last forever.

  34. I don’t try to get other people to start stories in the middle, I don’t know why anybody cares if I like to start at the beginning.

  35. I campained for Obama for 43 hours, and now he shows up in my books, and sells them out before I can read them.  GRRrrrr.  In any case, what does everyone have against the phonebook sized essential savage dragons?  You get a ton of bang for your buck, and it supplies more than enough info to jump on now.

  36. Regarding the $3.50US price tag on this book: if there’s one title that lives up to that price, it’s SD.  Each issue has a main story, a massive letters page(an actual letters page!!!), random pin ups(with art ranging from big name creators to indy darlings) and a backup strip(sometimes more then one).  I don’t think there is a book on the market that gives you as much bang for your buck as Savage Dragon does.

  37. I used to read Savage Dragon back in the ’90s. It was good. But today, and I don’t mean to be devisive, but the fact that a living politician is in this book is basically a guarantee that I won’t be picking it up. I’ve had enough of it, and I don’t find it cute anymore, and I’d be saying the same thing if it was Clinton or Bush or bin Laden or Nelson Mandela. Larson’s injecting a real-life politician into this book is a double-edged sword: it brings attention to the book but it also turns other people off, and I fall into the latter group. This isn’t about Left vs. Right; it isn’t really about actual real-life politics, either: it’s about Larson’s creative decision to use a real politician as a character. At this point, I find it very tacky. Am I probably missing out on a good book in the process? Sure, but oh well. It’s just a rather arbitrary matter of taste, but I’m entitled to it and it isn’t meaningless. In much the same way, some people don’t like movies with subtitles or cgi cartoons. I don’t like fiction mixed with real political figures.

  38. Yeah I mean I am no way talking politically about Obama being in my comic. (I voted for the man)

    But I said it in one thread and I’ll say it again: I am sick and tired of companies using his image. We get it Image and Marvel! You love Obama! Now stop using him every other issue and get on with telling stories. I mean I havent read Savage Dragon, but I have a deep feeling Obama coming out of no where ruins the flow of the issue.

  39. Are you the same guys who complained about Reagan and Letterman in The Dark Knight? 

  40. @cutty: Sadly that would make me about oh…..-3 years old. lol 🙂

  41. Good review for an awesome book. And a well deserved Pick Of The Week. Everybody thinking about checking out Savage Dragon, do it now. Everthing you really need  to know is in that issue. And for your $3.50 you get no adds inbetween the story pages, and a backup story.

  42. @ clintaa: You’re right, he does look dumb. The book itself comments on that quite a bit, touching on the silly fin on his head, the fact that his arms aren’t proportional to his body, etc.


    @ Gabe: I have one of the Archives and I like it, but I can see how new readers wouldn’t find it to be the ideal format. I find the Essentials work well because the art style at the time from the likes of Kirby, Ditko, and even Byrne have a lot less…lines while still being incredibly dynamic. I’m sure "lines" isn’t the technical term, but that’s what strikes me. Larsen’s art has a ton of pencil lines and when every single one is rendered in just black and white, it can look a bit crowded and messy.

  43. OH! I see why it POTW! This is the first Savage Dragon Issue I’ve read, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of it. I always believed all the original Image characters were Spawn/Top Cow crap. This is the exact opposite.


    *goes to buy the solar man trade*

  44. i just jumped on this and it was awesome!! this is so good!! im glad i started this. i love the artwork and savage dragon is an intresting character.

  45. Wow, the last issue of Savage Dragon I bought was #2 with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as guest stars! 

    I always check things out when you guys say an issue is a good "jumpin in" point so I’ll grab one if Level UP has one.

  46. Always been kinda curious about Savage Dragon, and with it being POTW motivated me to try it out.  Solid read, but didn’t really grab me.  Maybe the FCBD issue will do it, but I’ll probably pass and just grab more stuff from guys like Remender and Terry Moore.

  47. Thanks, guys. It’s nice to see a site where people actually seem to read and enjoy comics.


  48. *looks up*

    Hey, it’s Erik Larsen!  Woooo…

  49. The "What’s wrong with comics, Savage Dragon as an example" article will probably get delayed now…

  50. Ron with your love of this book I almost bought the vol 1 phonebook of this for 5 dollars.  For some reason I just couldn’t get myself to do it.

  51. I had a hard time deciding on a POTW.  Decided to go with New Avengers but probably just because of the "jam" pages (sorry Josh.)  I loved seeing each artist’s take on the character they are closely thought of with. 

    Disclaimer tho:  I didn’t get GL last week, so it could totally be the best book but I won’t know till tommorrow.

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