I could tell you about this issue right now, but I know you’re only here for the giant chicken fight. Your Major Spoilers review of Savage Dragon #244 awaits!
Writer: Erik Larsen
Artist: Erik Larsen
Colorist: Nikos Koutsis
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Editor: Gavin Higginbotham
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 22, 2019
Previously in Savage Dragon: As his life falls apart and his world comes crashing down around him, Malcolm Dragon faces the pulse-pounding power of the fighting fowl called Powerhouse!
A DESPERATE BATTLE… ON PAY-PER-VIEW?
We begin with an old-school splash page, reminiscent of Silver Age Marvel Comics, hailing this issue as “The Big One” and “An Image Comics Instant Classic!”, the chicken-headed hero called Powerhouse punches us right in our face (or at least the panel.) We cut to a terrible battle as Powerhouse and Flash Mercury battle someone who looks suspiciously like Doctor Sivana. (My mind wants to say that it’s an established Erik Larsen character, but I’m drawing a blank.) Back at Malcolm Dragon’s home, we are treated to the very end of yet another horrific argument between Malcolm and Maxine, as she continues to deal with the aftereffects of her assault and near-murder by a demon-creature. Their conflict is interrupted by producer Walden Wang, who has another idea to make them millions, even though their reality show has been cancelled: A Pay-Per-View battle for the ages for the super-heavyweight championship of the world! The story keeps jumping in time, with Walden recruiting Powerhouse to be his opponent, the Dragons meeting with the makers of their in-universe comic (which features shots at the explicit sex in previous issues, with Maxine calling out issue #228, which in our world featured Maxine being propelled across the room into a wall by a stream of Malcolm’s ejaculate, as “gross”) before jumptin to the actual filming of their pay-per-view battle. It’s a smashy-smashy affair where Powerhouse initially has the upper hand, but takes a loss when the magical mask that powers his transformation is yanked off in the scuffle.
SOME META STORYTELLING
I’ve talked before about the phenomenon where Savage Dragon has several “day in the life” issues in a row, with all the back-burner plots bubbling away, but this issue is extra weird even by that standard. With a little bit of development for Maxine, a little for Malcolm and what amounts to a strange guest-star appearance by Powerhouse and Flash Mercury (two of Larsen’s favorite childhood creations), this issue would be odd, but the bulk of the story is delivered in a series of really gorgeous double-page spreads, with unusual layouts and creative panel borders. Larsen is clearly having a lot of fun with the art in this issue, following up the Sivana cameo with a Billy Batson appearance, and having a lot of fun with the character’s facial expressions throughout the issue. Moreover, there are multiple time jumps within the issue, something that Maxine and Malcolm complain about happening in the in-universe comic, with the creators explaining it away as “Modern readers hate captions!” The issue ends with both the Savage Dragon and the readers stunned and wondering what just happened, but somehow with a sense of satisfaction.
THE BOTTOM LINE: WEIRD AS HECK, BUT HAS IT’S CHARMS
All in all, though, <strong)Savage Dragon #244 is a solid issue, giving us incremental progress on several of the domestic plots, making it clear that Maxine’s struggles aren’t over and showing us a big, cool battle full of punching and electrical blasts that is actually a desperate attempt by Malcolm to keep his family afloat, with strong art and a lot of sly asides to remind us that comics are supposed to be fun, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. It’s certainly not going to be a comic for everyone, but it’s one that I nonetheless recommend (for adults) as unique and enthusiastically created.
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SAVAGE DRAGON #244
Another day-in-the-life episode, with some amusing metatextual statements and an appearance by a couple of Erik Larsen's fave-raves. I hope Maxine is okay...