Larsen: It's "Called Savage Dragon But That's Never Been the Name of the Title Character"

by Russ Burlingame

SD189_00LOGOWith only an issue left before massive changes were promised to the Savage Dragon status quo, this week's #189 saw Erik Larsen setting the table for what appears to be a new status quo, giving us a taste of how, exactly, Dragon might function in prison while developing storylines for some of Malcolm's other supporting characters that could give the series some sense of direction as the son becomes the book's solo lead in a big way going forward.

Larsen joined ComicBook.com along with series editor Gavin Higginbotham to provide some insight on the issue and the title's future.

Remember that this is a spoiler-filled conversation. If you haven't read the book yet, why not buy it and read along with us?

SD189_01ComicBook.com: Revisiting the theme of Dragon's views on the afterlife is interesting following all these recent teases that he may die. Is he feeling the need to re-explore what that means?

Erik Larsen: At this point I was trying to establish some kind of rapport between Dragon and Reverend Parasol and put some things on the table. Sometimes I need to remind readers of stuff.

ComicBook.com: Frank has been through a lot lately. Do you have and endpoint in mind in terms of where this all leads?

Larsen: There is no endpoint for any character, really. I know some readers are disturbed hearing creators say this--and most bullshit and make it sound as though they have some extensive master plan--but we all make this stuff up as we go along and we all should make it up as we go along. Sure, there are general plans and directions--we all have an idea of where we want things to go but those plans can get tossed out the window in a heartbeat if a better idea comes along. It's like life. Nobody's getting on your case because you're not married to the girl you thought you'd be when you were eight or that you didn't follow through with your plan to be an astronaut or a fireman. The endpoint of everybody is death but the journey is what keeps it interesting and I have a nice journey mapped out for Frank...if only he'd stay on the damned road.

ComicBook.com: Bringing in another Dragon baby right after nuking his whole race is a bit of a game-changer...but can we trust his "history?"

Larsen: He's been in the book. It's not a new character.

SD189_02ComicBook.com: Are we to take from his boasting that Urass fixed the outcome of the trial?

Larsen: Dragon likely believes that. But there's no clear indication that that is the case.

ComicBook.com: It certainly feels like you're building a supporting cast for Malcolm to really, fully take on the book here. But it's Savage Dragon...we might see a big shift just as we get comfortable. Any hints on what to expect?

Larsen: The book is called Savage Dragon but that's never been the name of the title character. Malcolm Dragon would do. Barry Dragon could work as well--as could Angel Dragon.

ComicBook.com: Even after teasing his girlfriend about it, did Malcolm change to fight the bad guys?!

Larsen: He did. I thought that would be a funny bit. That he just showed up in a different set of clothes with no explanation.

ComicBook.com: We get a lot of great Dragon moments this issue. Do you feel like the change of pace prison offers lends itself to that?

Larsen: Having Dragon featured more prominently lends itself to that. I do love writing the guy.

Higginbotham: We get full confirmation in this issue that Jennifer Dragon is the sister of Animal and Bloop, just as she was in your childhood comics. Had you always intended to have them be siblings in the SD continuity? Beyond a mention of two brothers in a previous issue, there hasn't been much indication that they were related.

SD189_03Larsen: This was one of those things where I wasn't going to go there and then I decided to strictly because it's what I'd done as a kid and it didn't really make a huge difference now so, what the hell. When I was a kid Bloop, his brother and sister were essentially just like him--they could all stretch and they were all villains. Bloop was the skinny one--Animal was the big dumb one and Jennifer was the girl. As I had them fight Dragon I decided I liked the girl and I eventually had her reform and become Dragon's girlfriend and later, his wife. Shoehorning any of that in now seems weird but having the three all develop superpowers as they grew older--seemed not so weird. The only part that seems really screwy is that both Bloop and Animal were tagging along with Overlord when he attacked Dragon in #63 and it seems illogical that they would given that Overlord killed their sister but there could have been numerous scenes we weren't privy to that covered that so...I let it slide. The plus effect there is that it makes Jennifer's story seem a little more suspicious--if both of her brothers gained superpowers how unforeseen would it have really been that she might? When she accidentally killed her first husband...how much of an accident was that really?

Higginbotham: Just where did Negate come from? Did Bloop contact him when Jennifer first showed up in his apartment?

Larsen: I'm assuming some time past here and that Bloop had become suspicious. He figured out that the kid was not hers and he figured out whose kid he was and arranged to have Battle Axe and Negate show up in order to first expose her and then to reveal her true identity. It wasn't that they both walked by her apartment coincidentally. What they didn't anticipate was Battle Axe killing Gertie.

Higginbotham: Dragon's threats seem to have lost their effect judging by the attack by the inmates. Was that confidence in numbers on the villains' part or money being paid to them by Urass?

Larsen: I would think confidence in numbers and access. What Urass was able to do is make Dragon available and vulnerable. He may have instructed them not to kill Dragon but told them to beat the hell out of him. In a more normal situation like this--a prisoner like Dragon might very well be kept away from the others. Perhaps locked in solitary confinement or let out when others were safely behind bars. That didn't happen and yeah--they felt emboldened because of their numbers and sheer manpower. Over the long haul...I don't think it would take them long to do the math and realize that if Dragon kills one or two each time and he's healing every night that he'd be winning the battle by attrition. After a short while I'd imagine they'd be going in for the kill rather than trying to simply break his bones, no matter what Urass told them to do.

SD189_04Higginbotham: Helen Black is a tragic character. She's been obsessed with Dragon ever since she was a child. It seems unlikely that her feelings for him have gone simply because she's lost her Mutation abilities. Have we seen the last of her?

Larsen: We have not.

Higginbotham: Thunder-Head seems to pretty positive despite being crippled. Is he seeing things differently now that the Claw and VC are out of his life?

Larsen: I would think that there's a glimmer of hope for once.

Higginbotham: Malcolm spent a lot of time this issue checking up on his friends/loved ones. Are you enjoying getting to continually develop him into the lead? Is it more of a challenge than you thought or has been quite natural?

Larsen: He's grown on me. Malcolm is a much kinder and more compassionate guy than his father. His dad might say something cutting and curt but Malcolm would be more concerned with hurting people's feelings. The world hasn't hardened him yet. I enjoy writing him a lot. He's growing into the role.

Higginbotham: Killing off Vicious Circle members didn't work out too well for Overlord in terms of developing a working relationship with his men. If Dart has her eyes on the role (and that certainly seems to be the case), is she not running the risk of making the same mistakes as Overlord?

Larsen: There's always that risk.

Higginbotham: Will Malcolm begin to fear using his electricity abilities? He seems fine with his "lightning punch" but he's accidentally killed two people now with the power. That has to be playing on his mind a bit.

Larsen: I would think so. It hasn't been definitively stated that Battle Axe is dead but yeah, that would weight on him, I would think.

By Russ Burlingame

Russ Burlingame has been covering comics and pop culture since 1999. He has written for WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE, Comic Related, Newsarama, and more before settling in for the long haul at ComicBook.com back in 2011.