This week’s release of Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon #152 sees Malcolm and Angel trying to figure out how to resurrect their father, while the Golden Age Daredevil and the Li’l Wise Guys cope with the fallout from their battle with Mako the Shark Man last issue and the new Overlord battles with…well, with Savage Dragon, whom he, too, has been working to bring back to life. A little confusing? Sure. Erik Larsen sat down with us to suss it all out.
Blog@Newsarama: I love that cover. It should be said I take the position nobody’s done Venom justice since you left the Spider-Man titles, and this iteration of Dragon kind of reminds me of your Venom.
Erik Larsen: That tongue is one of those things fans love or hate. I was the guy that stuck Venom with that thing and to some fans that’s what made him that much scarier and to others it pushed him over the edge. With this cover I was going for a straight portrait–like that American Gothic painting of the farmer and his wife–but make it an image that gets progressively more disturbing as you scanned down the cover. On some comic book racks all you’d see is, what looks like, the top of Dragon’s head but pull that cover up and you get the full effect.
In some ways it’s a “boring” cover in that it’s straight ahead with no background–but I was looking to do a Brian Bolland kind of thing. Somewhat quiet and more subtle than what I usually do.
BLOG@: It’s interesting because we’ve talked before about kind of “cinematic cutting” between scenes. The first two pages of this issue are kind of a perfect example of a horror movie cut. Did you absent any sound effects from the page 2-3 splash to help that feel
EL: Yeah. I was looking to do a quick horror cut and a sound effect just
seemed too goofy, visually. It felt too comic booky, if you will.
BLOG@: You know –looking at the Big Two characters who have died, we haven’t really had one with a kid yet. So Malcolm and Angel are kind of doing something we haven’t seen characters do before in a superhero book that I can remember. Will Frank’s family continue to be a sounding board that allows them to draw parallels and to differentiate between Dragon and Everyone Else?
EL: I can’t say too much without saying too much but having the Darlings back in the mix was something I wanted to do. With Frank gone it would be really easy to lose these characters and have them just fade away but Mildred was there from the start and we were there when Frank Jr. was born so they were a big part of the book’s history. I wanted to get them back into the fold and with Malcolm taking center stage I thought it would be nice to bring in Frank Jr. as well. In a way I’m passing the torch to the next generation.
BLOG@: Do we get to see where the video of Dragon waxing intellectual about his responsibilities is being played sooner rather than later?
EL: I was figuring that bit was a snippet being run on the air much like all of the Michael Jackson interviews which keep being unearthed and shown following his passing. It’s not from any place mysterious. It’s just from one of the many chat shows he’s appeared on over the years.
BLOG@: My memory for names is awful, of course, but I’m wondering if we’ve seen a Rachel in the book before. A quick site search of SavageDragon.com brings no hits.
EL: The Virus character absorbs the personalities and memories of the people he absorbs. The Rachel comment was a piece of Inferno’s life. We’re getting a small glimpse into Inferno’s world.
BLOG@: I’ll also add that “Just one more score, Wendy. One more and we’ll be set for life” sounds like something out of a Bruce Springsteen song.
EL: It’s typical of a lot of aging criminals who see their time is coming to a close. They’re getting older, slower and less capable of doing what they did and they keep looking at that illusive “last big score” that will enable them to retire to a life of relative comfort. I didn’t make the Springsteen connection but it’s there if you want it to be.
BLOG@: Adding the two together, is it safe to assume they’ll be clues to finding out what’s behind this, ahem, return for Dragon?
EL: Those two really have little to do with Dragon. That’s just the way Virus works. His mind is increasingly jammed with conflicting information and personalities with differing agendas.
BLOG@: Why is it that Malcolm’s dialogue (He’s not dead, he’s not dead, he’s not dead) in Savage Dragon and Tim Drake’s dialogue in Battle For the Cowl and Red Robin are basically the same, but I don’t want to throw Malcolm under a wheat thresher?
EL: I haven’t read anything to do with Tim Drake or Battle for the Cowl so I’m not sure how that played out. Malcolm has seen his father go through an awful lot and come out unscathed. He has faith in his old man.
BLOG@: Dude, they can’t take that spiked belt off Daredevil when they put him to bed? It can’t be good for the mattress, or his back!
EL: Keeping it on was more for the sake of artistic license than anything. It would make more sense to take him out of the outfit completely but I wanted him to be identifiable as the Golden Age Daredevil and without his outfit he’s just an ordinary man.
BLOG@: With Dart’s comments about the bad guys–it almost seems like she doesn’t understand she’s one of them. Is that a legitimate observation?
EL: Dart is–complicated. I don’t think that she sees herself as evil necessarily.
BLOG@: Considering how confident and cocky he is all the time, the new Overlord got pretty panicky pretty quick when his suit didn’t work on the first try. Are we looking at a guy who doesn’t have a lot of powered combat experience?
EL: I don’t want to start tossing out too many clues in my commentary here. There are bits and pieces to be gleamed from the issues and I don’t want to lead or mislead people here. My commentary shouldn’t be included with the rest of the clues.
BLOG@: While the kids are TALKING about creating a Frankenstein, Overlord already HAS. Does that imply that Dragon’s soul is…somewhere else? Not in the (moving) body either, since that’s the basis for concern with the frozen Dragon body?
EL: At this point I’m calling the demonic-looking Dragon “Virus.” That person–who was a character from the book, presumably had a soul of his own–but I expect that things are somewhat different following hisresurrection. He’s more like Sandman in a way now–who’s to say where his brain is in that shifting sand? He’s one big diseased tangle now.
As far as Dragon’s corpse goes–the jury’s still out of that. A long philosophical conversation could go on here, pondering what makes up a soul to begin with and I’m not sure I’ve got that all sorted out even if Rex Dexter feels he has.
BLOG@: Instead of focusing on cloning Dragon–which nobody’s really done properly despite attempts–why doesn’t Overlord focus on creating powersuits for his army? Seems like Doombots are much more manageable than an army of Hulks, to steal a Marvel analogy.
EL: Well, Dragon’s no Hulk so it’s not as though these guys are in danger of becoming rampaging dunces or anything. The idea is that they could add to their power without having a suit, which could challenge Overlord himself. Besides, Overlord didn’t invent the armor and he doesn’t know how to duplicate it necessarily.
BLOG@: When Malcolm tells the press Dragon can’t die, does that put everyone in a kind of awkward position when Zombie-Looking Evil Dragon shows up soon? That, combined with the comments by the cops about being unsure whether to trust Dragon after seeing his brains eaten out, kind of makes Spidey’s PR problems look like small potatoes.
EL: They do indeed. The plus side is that people have come around, following Dragon’s death, to believe he was a force for good–and that he did save the world a few times. They might be inclined to capture and cure the monster Dragon. But time will tell.