Back in the saddle again! After a month away from DragonQuestions (as stated on another page, I got married and have been preoccupied with planning, marrying and honeymooning), things here at Chez Burlingame are in a semi-regular rhythm, which includes getting DragonQuestions and The Gold Exchange back on track! This month saw Emperor Kurr start killing superheroes instead of villains for the first time in a while, and both Gavin and I were pretty surprised to see one of the casualties.
Gavin Higginbotham: What exactly was it that prompted you to included Captain Four-Color in the pages of the issue?
Erik Larsen: I’ve always liked those kinds of characters– super-powered product pitchmen like Captain Tootsie and whatnot, whose whole purpose is a very focused one–and that is to encourage people to eat Tootsie Rolls of drink a certain kind of soda or whatever. Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, CA had put out a comic featuring Captain Four-Color and it struck me as a fun idea to have him appear in an issue of Savage Dragon. I talked to Joe Field about it and together we decided doing an exclusive cover for their store and having their store mascot fight the Dragon would be a great way to celebrate the store’s anniversary and so that’s just what happened.
GH: Malcolm’s first girlfriend is proving to be a handful. It’s nice to see him dealing with problems caused by dating. It further demonstrates how innovative this series is, allowing a character that we saw born in its pages grow up to having girl problems in his teens.
EL: The temptation is to have them grow up too fast to get to the good stuff so I need to be careful with that. At this point Malcolm’s almost 14 so we’re getting to a point where it’s not that far-fetched to start doing this sort of thing. Some kids at that age are dating and stuff.
Russ Burlingame: Is Malcolm’s dealing with dating an extension of the Spidey archetype, and its lasting impact on you as a reader and writer? Dealing with the personal, teenage element of Peter’s life was a high point, during some of the book’s best years.
EL: I don’t really think of it as such–at least not yet. Without the secret identity entanglement the dynamic is pretty different. Also, having siblings in the house changes things. In a way, any young hero living at home is going to automatically get that kind of comparison but I don’t think it’s strictly fair. People don’t automatically compare every adult hero with Superman, after all. Now if he starts wearing a sweater vest and taking photo for a newspaper–you might have me–otherwise the only thing the two really have in common is their age and Malcolm’s not even in high school yet–he’s in 8th grade.
GH: It seems that Rex’s original body seems to have some kind of ability to home in on its brain. I guess I was too eager to jump the gun last month regarding speculation that it would be left to rot in the laboratory!
EL: I don’t want to say too much about this scene other than to say that we haven’t seen the last of either Rex’s body or Rex.
GH: The Circle is finally standing up to their leader, wanting to live up to their former “vicious” moniker. It looks like OverLord is going to need some new allies if he wants to keep his control of the group. Without the Vicious Circle to back him, can even OverLord stand up to Kurr?
EL: Can anybody?
RB: I think the OverLord part of the story right now is really interesting. Magneto has, at various times over the years, suggested that his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is really not so evil, but just a group of guys hoping for a fair shake. He’s always basically remained Magneto, though, and done some pretty despicable things in the name of equal rights. It’s interesting to see how the Circle reacts to OverLord seeming to be on the level.
EL: With Magneto, it’s always been the same guy in that role and that’s the primary difference here is that somebody else has crawled into the OverLord armor and that’s not gone over quite so well. With Magneto there’s that continuity and the reputation that comes along with it. With Overlord there’s resentment that he’s taken over that role and was presumptuous enough to assume he could simply take over.
GH: Kurr’s new costume reminded me of Wolverine’s, was it any way based on the design you had for him back when you wrote the book a decade ago? If so, another great example of you recycling unused creations!
EL: It’s something of a variation on one of the outfits he wore in the origin story. I wasn’t thinking about that Wolverine costume so much although there are similarities.
RB: Does Kurr have a particular plan in place for Vanguard? It seems so…unlike him to leave someone in stasis when dismemberment would keep them out of the fight just as well.
EL: Kurr’s a dick but he’s a dick who thinks ahead. As long as Vanguard is neutralized, he’s out of the way and that’s enough. Ultimately, Vanguard does serve a purpose.
GH: Is that Herculian from IMAGE TWO-IN-ONE standing there amongst the S.O.S.? Nice to see a character from that story getting brought into Dragon continuity… although didn’t he have his heart ripped out in that story?
EL: Yeah–that was Earth Two Herculian. With the S.O.S. I wanted to mix it up a bit so it wasn’t just the same characters we’ve seen before. Dragon dealt with those guys in #119 and it seemed a little silly for them to simply assume that this time they could kick Dragon’s ass so I wanted to beef up the team a bit and leave a couple of the less formidable members out of the fight. The two female members of the team weren’t there and there were a couple red-shirts added to fill out their roster.
RB: You know, I’ve always wondered why speedsters aren’t easier to take out. I mean, Flash notwithstanding (as he seems to use his speed mostly as a conduit to invent other powers), most of them seem to just stick and move, leaving them susceptible to a clothesline from someone as strong as Kurr or Darkseid or something.
EL: One presumes that speedsters can think and react faster than normal people–otherwise they’d be somewhat useless. Regardless, Race demonstrated that super speed isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
GH: And the first named characters of this arc have been killed off with the entire roster of the S.O.S. Were these guys and gals selected for any particular reason? They’ve become redundant now that Youngblood are back in the Image Universe? Had they just outlived their usefulness to you? You wanted Kurr to slaughter some heroes instead of villains this time?
EL: We’ve all got our own teams that play a Youngblood type role. I have Special Operations Strikeforce–Robert has Guardians of the Globe. We all need toys we can call our own. I used the S.O.S. for several reasons—part was to use name character with a bit of history–and part was to set things up for later so that I can introduce a new team later on.
GH: Super-Tough was a new guise for your childhood creation, Mace. Do you ever feel a sense of sadness when characters from that time are bumped off?
EL: I try not to get too attached to anybody. The nature of the book is change. Characters will age–characters will change–characters will die. I don’t want to get to a point where any one character is invulnerable. Some years back I was thinking that Frank Darling would be the one constant throughout the series but when it came time to destroy the police station it would have made it a lot less effective if the characters that survived were the only ones readers gave a shit about. Sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and know that I will come up with something cool later and that killing off characters now will make that both possible but necessary. I don’t want this book to be Spider-Man where I’m continually rotating in the same few character created in the first 38-issues. If it’s really going to be that generational book where old characters are replaced by new ones then that requires me to make some of those tough choices along the way.
GH: Along with us getting to see the S.O.S. headquarters again for the first time in years, we get another homage scene when SuperPatriot leaps into action, mirroring the scene in Savage Dragon #52 when SuperPatriot leapt into battle against Herakles and the God Squad. Another great touch and nod to long-time fans. Thank you for that!
EL: That’s a little nod to myself. I wasn’t sure if that would register with anybody but it’s kind of a fun thing to do from time to time.
RB: We’ve seen plenty of signs that Dragon might actually be trapped in there with Kurr. Was his play against SuperPatriot possibly a sign that he himself is aware of those slips, or was it just the best move at the moment?
EL: That’s the big question, isn’t it? You might also wonder–if Kurr can simply imitate his former self–why wouldn’t he have done that before when he was trying to get settled? One could assume something is going on in there–or maybe he’s simply gotten the hang of it over the last year or so.
GH: The fight between SuperPatriot and Kurr was brutal. Johnny Armstrong has been around in the book since the very beginning and he’s become one of the most iconic heroes in your corner of the universe. He’s probably the most popular hero behind Dragon so this was really a clash of the titans and it showed. Kurr was in REALLY bad shape but was this the last time we’ll see SuperPatriot? Kurr seemed pretty confident that he’d finished off SP and his left hand appeared to be covered in blood after that final blow to his foe but… surely this isn’t the end of America’s Fighting Force?
EL: Nobody lives forever and it was getting to a point where having SuperPatriot be actively tackling bad guys strained credibility. The character’s 89-years old and he’s been through a lot and having him go out in a blaze of glory seemed better a good way of having his story come to its end.