With the release today of Savage Dragon #153, the monstrous, Dragonlike character called Virus has made its way to Malcolm and Angel’s house, and conflicts raged between him and the Dragon Kids; between Overlord and rogue elements of the Vicious Circle; and between Malcolm and just about everybody he met. Erik Larsen sat down with us to provide some color commentary on the issue.
Blog@Newsarama: You know, it’s funny–that exoskeletal costume basically has NOTHING unnecessary on it–except the eyelash/antennae. Are they just for show or do they have a function?
Erik Larsen: It’s a balance thing–like with a cat and its whiskers. Helps her keep her balance scaling walls and jumping from rooftop to rooftop (and yes–I did just make that up. Pretty impressive, eh?).
Blog@: I know we’ve talked a little bit about Malcolm being confused about how he feels for Angel–is it possible that hormones are playing a role in some of what we’re seeing here? Even if you can put his denial of Dragon’s death up to “faith in his old man,” it seems like the beating and trash-talking of a basically defenseless villain is something worth noting…!
EL: She’s hardly defenseless– but I was trying to show Malcolm’s desperation and growing anxiousness and panic. He’s running out of options and he’s in a bad way.
Blog@: Will we eventually get a really good fight scene featuring the new Overlord? So far he just seems to be disintegrating people. It’s definitely impressive, but not quite as much fun to watch.
EL: Overlord is tough to pull off because his power really is those rays of his. It’s hard to involve him in fisticuffs because his armor doesn’t make him THAT powerful. It’s those blasts which are his primary power. It’s a bit like writing the Punisher–when he’s fighting a superpowered guy all he can do is blast the crap out of them and hope they don’t get a hand on him. Overlord is more armored than that–he can stand up to some decent blows–but without his firepower–he’s not on Dragon’s level.
Blog@: I do love his reaction: “Oh, now what?”. The new Overlord seems to be a little more relatable than the average supervillain; was that by design?
EL: Oh, absolutely. And a lot of it is to say that this Overlord is not the same guy as the one who was there before.
Blog@: On that note, I really like the sequence where he’s discussing strategies for a more peaceful takeover of the Vicious Circle. How often have you had that conversation with someone–”Which one is Powerhouse?” “The chicken-headed guy.”? Because it sounds like a conversation I might have with my friends.
EL: That’s the idea. To take the fantastic–and often ridiculous–and sell it by having the characters themselves take it seriously. They believe it so you, the reader, believe it as well. As bizarre as Savage Dragon can get at times–a big part of what makes it work is the sincerity of the characters. It feels real–because the reactions are real–even if what’s going on is completely preposterous.
Blog@: Additionally–there was a point where we were talking about The Vicious Circle being kind of an outdated name–that it was like the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or the Legion of Super-Villains: Who would really call themselves that? Will that line of thinking start to be reflected in the members of the Circle when and if the new Overlord gains some street cred?
EL: Absolutely. That’s the idea here–to rebuild and remake the Vicious Circle into something that works better. The big question is whether this guy has what it takes to pull it off given the other personalities involved and the other forces at work.
Blog@: Is the Virus getting incrementally more functional throughout the story? It seemed like he was a mindless, Hulk-like character in the previous chapters but here he’s talking.
EL: The idea is that a jumble of thoughts–fragments–are coming together. He was relatively functional in the previous issue–saying bits and pieces that sprang to mind–this was an extension of that.
Blog@: I like the fact that when they go to see Rex, he doesn’t just “come up with something,” as you usually see. In most action fiction–from superheroes to spies–the tech guys are just…magical or something. The whole litany of reasons why he can’t do what they ask of him was a great character moment where I’m like, “You know, it all makes sense and makes the world that much more real.”
Blog@: In that semi-splash page with Virus and the scene with the estate attorney–is that in the creature’s memory or is it just for reader exposition?
EL: That’s him accessing Dragon’s memory and dredging up a piece that might help lead him to where his kids might be. We’re looking into his head–and literally seeing the thoughts in it.
Blog@: So, level with me here…are any of the Li’l Wise Guys gonna make it out of this storyline alive?
EL: Does anybody–really?
Blog@: As a side note: How much time has elapsed in the story since Dragon’s “death?” I always tend to assume that issues kind of pick up where the last one left off unless we’re given some sense of time, but in this one they refer to having found Dart months ago.
EL: Each issue represents a month’s time more or less. It’s not an exact science and there’s some fudging here and there but roughly a month goes by between issues. We can assume that the kids spent some time chasing down leads and finding bad guys and hauling them in–and there are other indications here and there. There are definite pitfalls of setting a book in real time.
Blog@: So when we see the She-Dragon next month, how radical a redesign should we expect?
EL: Well, the cover is floating around out there. She’s still transforming. She’s not to a stopping point just yet.
Blog@: “Just one more score, Wendy. One more, and we’ll be set for life.” Are you trying to bait me? Do you read my Young Liars columns and see that I have an unhealthy fascination with Springsteen? Can I buy that page of art?
EL: I didn’t and no. I don’t sell Savage Dragon art. Sorry.
Blog@: So away with Virus, and the original body–Kurr’s body–rises with apparently no idea what’s going on. Is it too much for me to hope that we get to see a little Kurr before things return to stability?
EL: Just keep reading. There are a lot of wheels in motion at this point. Things are definitely coming to a head and we will be getting to those stories and characters fans have been asking about for years. The payoff will be worth it.