Previously in the pages of Savage Dragon from Image Comics, Malcolm, Maxine and their three kids all had to flee to Canada after Donald Trump ordered all aliens to be arrested & expelled from the United States. Malcolm and his family settled down in Toronto, and began the difficult process of building new lives for themselves. That brings us to the latest two issues of Erik Larsen’s long-running series.
Of course, you could be forgiven if you had perhaps forgotten some of this given the, um, adult content presented within Savage Dragon #228 and #229.
I actually didn’t have an opportunity to pick up these two issues until this week, although I’ve been damned curious about what was in them, given the message I received on Facebook on November 29 from Atomic Junk Shop columnist Greg Burgas…
“You’re a big Erik Larsen fan, right? Have you been reading Savage Dragon? What’s up with the really weird porn in the latest issue?”
I can tell you up front that Burgas’ description of what goes on in Savage Dragon #228 is pretty damn accurate. The sex scenes in this issue, and in the next, were just a little too explicit for my taste, at least for this specific series.
I have been following Savage Dragon since the very beginning, so I am well aware that Larsen has often done very risqué material. Some of the sequences with Dragon and Rapture from early on immediately leap to mind. However, I felt that the scenes in these two issues sort of crossed a line. All the previous sex scenes in Savage Dragon were, at most, a “hard R.” These two issues, however, definitely leaped head-first into “X-Rated” territory.
Credit where credit is due, my girlfriend found the sex scenes in these two issues to be “creative.” She was nevertheless surprised to see material this damn pornographic in Savage Dragon.
And no, really, I don’t think I can share examples of Malcolm & Maxine’s bedroom Olympics here on this blog, because I would rather not risk getting booted off WordPress!
Okay, fine, I suppose I can post this one panel, which is, believe it or not, the least explicit from the entire sequence…
Roger, the owner of the comic book shop where I bought these issues, was a bit upset because he was worried that someone under 21 might see these issues and he could then possibly get in trouble. Roger pointed out that the only indication that the series is for an adult audience is the “Rated M / Mature” notice which is in tiny letters under the UPC code on the back cover.
I can sympathize with his view. Considering how reactionary and intolerant people in this country have the potential to be, especially nowadays, I can sadly envision a situation where some 14 year old buys these issues, the kid’s parents discover exactly what is inside, and next thing you know they are on Fox News screaming that comic books are corrupting the children of America, and then poor Roger’s comic shop is being inundated with protestors.
I think that the possibility of such a nightmare scenario could be greatly lessened from occurring if that “Rated M / Mature” notice, or something like it, appeared on the front cover at a significantly larger font size, so it is immediately obvious that the book is for 18 and over, or 21 and over, or whatever. I really do not want to lecture Larsen about acting responsibly, but I believe that it would be a prudent decision for him to do what is necessary to protect not just himself but the stores that carry his product from possible negative consequences.
But, to coin a phrase… Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? 😛
All of the sexual shenanigans aside, I did like these two issues. The best aspects of them for me were how Larsen wrote Malcolm and Maxine’s marriage, and their misadventures raising the three kids, and how Malcolm’s half-brother Kevin has also now moved to Canada, and he’s pursuing a relationship with Maxine’s widowed mother, and the weirdness that is “milk in a bag.” As I have mentioned in previous reviews of this series, I love all this interpersonal comedy & drama that Larsen dishes out, and at this point actually find it much more interesting than most of the action sequences.
As for those fight scenes, I did think the battle between Malcolm and Seeker was a bit pointless (why was Seeker going after Dragon again?) but it did serve the purpose of causing Maxine to realize that Malcolm could actually die, leaving her alone with the kids, so it did play into their ever-developing relationship in a major way. I also chuckled at Malcolm practically breaking the fourth wall to inform the old guy that the Seeker had last appeared in issue #106.
The fight with the “Sludge” guy in the next issue did feel somewhat more relevant. It did feel very open-ended, with Sludge abruptly deciding to run away, but Larsen will probably be bringing the character back at some point. I was rather amused that Sludge was apparently going after Billy Batson’s old boss from WHIZ Radio.
On a final note, I enjoyed the pin-up by Paul Hoppe that appeared in #228. Hoppe is a good artist, and he lives in the area, in Brooklyn. His cool, wacky self-published comic books Journey Into Misery and Tales To Behold are often for sale at the comic book shop that I go to, Mysterious Time Machine at 418 6th Avenue by West 9th Street in Manhattan. To bring things full circle, that’s where I buy Savage Dragon. I guess it really is a small world after all.