TITLE: The Savage Dragon Issue #1
YEAR: July 1992
COMPANY: Image Comics
Creator/Writer/Artist/Inker: Erik Larsen
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Jannie Wong
Color Separation: Digital Chameleon
Back in 1982, Erik Larsen wanted to get into the comic book industry. Creating his own characters and making his own personal comic books when he was younger.
While Larsen was able to be one of the lucky hopefuls who would get to draw for Charlton Comics, he drew a Dragon story (featuring a green-skinned humanoid with super-strength and awesome healing factor) which would not be published and so he and a few friends worked on a fanzine called “Graphic Fantasy” (June 1982). And review copies were sent out to publications and the crew received positive feedback.
Especially from fanzine collector, Gary Carlson and the two would go on to work together for “Megaton”, where the Savage Dragon would make his first appearance in “Megaton” issue #3 (February 1986).
The Dragon would go on to appear on “Giant-Sized Mini Comics #4” from Eclipse Comics as a one-page gag but it wasn’t until 20-years since Erik Larsen drew the Dragon and the 10th anniversary since the character appeared on “Graphic Fantasy” that the first issue of “The Savage Dragon” would be released by Image Comics.
As many who aren’t familiar by the story, back in 1992, several high-profile illustrators would quit their jobs with the major comic book publishers and create their own comic book publishing company and they would be able to publish their material without giving up the copyrights to the characters they created, as they are creator-owned properties.
Back then, no one knew what would come of this project but it made sense. Artists were frustrated because their characters and artwork were being merchandised and the artists didn’t receive any royalties (only on the sales of comics).
Marvel disagreed and thus, Image was born and would consists of six studios: Todd McFarlane Productions (Todd McFarlane), WildStorm Productions (Jim Lee), Highbrow Entertainment (Erik Larsen), Shadowline (Jim Valentino), Top Cow Productions (Marc Silvestri), Extreme Studios (Rob Liefeld).
The initial titles were produced under Image but were briefly published through Malibu Comics.
And I chose this issue of “The Savage Dragon” as issue #225 was released (which I will write about soon), 25-years after the first issue and features the death of the Savage Dragon. I absolutely loved “The Savage Dragon” and next to “Spawn”, those two issues were difficult to find and coincidentally, they are the two Image Comics issues that began in 1992 that are still being published today.
The first issue of the first volume was part of a three-part limited series before becoming a series.
The comic book began with a police officer, the Savage Dragon, stopping two criminal super freaks.
The series then goes into how The Savage Dragon became a police officer. Walking up in flames and Lt. Frank Darling of the Chicago Police Department tries to recruit the Savage Dragon (who has no memories of his identity but can remember everything else) of joining the police force.
As superheroes are being killed and many criminal super mutants causing chaos all over the city, the Chicago Police Dept. are powerless.
While the Savage Dragon is grateful, he feels it’s too much of a burden and wants to live a normal life. He gets a job on the docks at a warehouse but a group of supermutants are trying to steal from the owner and the Savage Dragon defeats them.
But as he tells the warehouse owner that he will protect them, the warehouse is blown up to bits and everyone inside the warehouse is killed except the Savage Dragon.
As Lt. Darling watches another superhero, Mighty Man being killed after his secret identity was revealed. He is awaken by the Savage Dragon who changes his mind and wants to enlist in the Police Academy to become a police officer and fight crime.
Overall, this is a wonderful Image Comics debut for the Savage Dragon. Entertaining, violent but for the most part, showing readers of how awesome Erik Larsen’s work could be with creative freedom. Definitely recommended!