Warning: MAJOR spoilers ahead for today's issue of Savage Dragon, #220.
Dragon had been on death row in the comics for quite some time, the result of mass murder committed when he was not fully in control of his mind. Recently, he had exhausted his final appeal and told his son -- the series' current lead -- that he was at "the end of the road."
Dragon, though, had saved Obama's life once, and served the Chicago Police Department with distinction for years before leaving to work as a superhero in Chicago for many more years, either on his own or as a member of government-approved groups like Freak Force.
"When Dragon became a cop he saved Obama, so having him return the favor gave it a nice symmetry," Larsen told ComicBook.com during an interview, the full text of which will run later today.
Why leave Dragon -- somebody who, as his own prison guards note, has saved the world a bunch of times and probably didn't belong there in the first place -- rot for a few years in prison and lose his super-powers along the way?
Well, for the same reason most Presidents hold off on controversial pardons.
"When Dragon went to jail in the first place I knew that Obama would pardon him eventually. I knew he'd do it just before he left office," Larsen explained. "Story-wise it stood to reason that Obama really couldn't pardon him earlier for political reasons: the risk of political blowback or retaliation was too great. But once it was at the end of his second term there was nothing to lose. No reason not to."
Of course, that might insulate Obama from blowback, but not Dragon: outside of his prison, he's accosted by angry Trump supporters and ant-alien protestors who would rather have seen him fry for the crimes he committed while he was under the control of Emperor Kurr, a homicidal alternate personality who took over Dragon's body for a time after his brain was seriously damaged and he was briefly dead.
Check back for much more on the issue with Larsen in our usual monthly Q&A later today.
You can get a copy of Savage Dragon #220 at your local comic shop, or pick up a digital copy.
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