With the recent revelation that June will see the return of a super-powered Savage Dragon at the conclusion of a three-part, multiverse-spanning cosmic odyssey called "The Merging of Multiple Earths," the next couple of months seem to take on a new urgency for Malcolm, Maxine, Angel and the crew.
Even a month where Dragon is babysitting his grandkids and throwing down with Tantrum can have hidden insights into what kind of reality-bending tricks Mister Glum might be up to -- and the reintroduction of characters like Jennifer Murphy and Alex Wilde, are clearly setting the stage for something big.
We caught up with writer, artist, series creator, and all-around Dragon-tastic guy Erik Larsen to talk a little bit about what's going on in Chicago this month.
Spoilers ahead if you haven't read the issue already. You can get a copy of Savage Dragon #221 at your local comic shop, or pick up a digital copy and read along with us.
This is the first time since #200 that Dragon has been featured on the cover. Was that a function of his release from jail, or part of the Image 25th anniversary celebration?
It was a function of him being released from jail. I kept this cover under wraps because I didn’t want to spoil the fact that Dragon was a free man. It’s hard with a book like this, to NOT spoil things sometimes and occasionally I’ll hold one back. Really, once the cat was out of the bag there was no good reason to sit on this. Beyond Dragon’s appearance there’s nothing else spoiled.
Given how long you’ve been doing this book, I would assume writing most of these characters is second nature. When you’re bringing characters like Jennifer and Alex back in, is it harder to get them “right?”
It’s muscle memory. Once you start typing it all comes back.
Is there going to be any skepticism that Jennifer is who she says she is? I mean, as far as the characters are concerned, all we really have to go in is Glum’s word.
I know that in most comics this sort of thing can be seamless but I try to play things a bit more real world and in the real world—impersonating another person is pretty much impossible. Inevitably you get some subtle nuance wrong and it all unravels. Of course it’s suspicious to have a character return after 17 years and others are listening close to make sure things are how them appear. Dragon has faced imposters before and exposed them—so he’s not likely to be taken in so easily. He’s no fool.
Was it kind of handy to have Jennifer be out of the loop as long as she’s been out of the spotlight? You had a legitimate reason to do an expository dump.
In a way, yeah. The challenge is to make it informative and entertaining. If you’re a longtime reader you don’t want to be sitting there, bored, thinking, “I know all this shit. Who cares?” It can’t just be an info dump.
Why did you choose Torment as the first foe to come after Dragon?
I wanted a solid Malcolm foe as a way of saying that this is still Malcolm’s book—even if Dragon’s in it.
Given that Jennifer has not had the same passage of time that the other characters have, how hard will it be for her to deal with those differences? She looks shellshocked when she says they should maybe wait for Dragon…!
There’s going to be a period of adjustment, for sure. There’s a lot for her to catch up on. She’s missed a lot. The world is a very different one than the one she knew. She was frozen in 2000, before the election—she doesn’t know about George Bush or Barack Obama or Donald Trump—she’s unaware of 9-11 and so much else. She’s never seen an iPhone.
Is it harder to write action sequences with Dragon? In the same way that he has to be careful about what he does now that he can’t rely on strength and a healing factor, I feel like you have the same challenge as a writer with him.
It’s a different dynamic. It’s more Captain America, Batman or Daredevil and less Spider-Man or the Thing. But I’ve written “powerless” characters in the book before. Both Star and Daredevil don’t have superpowers to speak of. You just have to think about things in a different way. It’s more of a martial arts mentality. He has to pit his foes against themselves. Use their own weight and momentum against them. He can’t simply haul off and belt these guys. That no longer works. He has to fight smarter.
The Dragon triplets have spent a lot of their young lives in trouble. Is that going to stabilize at all now that Dragon is around, or is the babies being in peril pretty much here to stay?
Only time will tell. It’s likely to take them a bit to realize that they’re living in a world made of soap bubbles. They can destroy most anything, effortlessly. That’s gotta take some time to wrap your brains around but Malcolm figured it out. Dragon figured it out. I wouldn’t think they’d be destroying everything forever.
It was nice to see Alex back. I always kind of felt like she and Dragon would end up together back in the day. Is that what’s going on here, or is this mostly as friends?
Alex is a tough one for me. Initially she was just a fellow police officer. I had no intention of the two becoming an item because I knew, eventually, Jennifer was going to enter his life. She was supposed to be just another cop on the force but there’s really no controlling these characters. They take on a life of their own. At this point Dragon’s thinking that him and her were meant to be. All the stars aligned. It was fate. And then the phone rang.
And of course, how will Dragon react to Jennifer’s return?
It’s got to be a serious mind-fuck. How would anybody react to such a thing? He married another version of her — they had a life together — and eventually — she was taken from him. Now she’s back — but it’s the girl he fell in love with — now half his age. When he last saw the other Jennifer, she had lost her powers and she was still super-powered. Now the shoe is on the other foot. He’s without powers and she’s still an invincible juggernaut. What do you do? What would anybody do?
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