Savage Dragon #250 hit the stands today, and the lead feature from Erik Larsen ended with a bombshell: somebody arrived at Malcolm and Maxine Dragon's door that has the potential to change the book in a fundamental way going forward. It is, as Larsen had recently teased, somebody from back in the Graphic Fantasy days, who had not yet mad an appearance in the modern era of Savage Dragon comics but has a ton of story potential. After an issue that dealt with his hero (and family) sheltering at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the last-page bombshell hit harder, especially for the long-time fans who have kept the book going so long.
Larsen's run on the comic -- he has written, drawn, and inked all 250 issues -- is nearly unmatched in American comics. Even Spawn, which recently passed Dave Sim's record as the longest continuously-published independent comic, has more limited involvement from creator Todd McFarlane than what Dragon does month in and month out.
So it's almost poetic justice that after Dragon, the hero of the book for the first 175 issues or so, was killed off in Savage Dragon #225, Paul Dragon should appear in this month's issue.
Who's Paul Dragon? Well, Larsen has been writing and drawing stories featuring versions of The Dragon for years. The most notable one is Paul Dragon, whose first appearance was in the zine Graphic Fantasy and is generally considered to be the "true" first appearance of Dragon, even though they are technically distinct characters. Arguing otherwise would more or less be like saying The Man of Steel #1 by John Byrne is the first appearance of Superman because he's so much different now than he was in Action Comics #1.
Paul had a different situation -- he was married to Susan (a version of whom became Jennifer in the current volume) and had a daughter, Angel (Jennifer's daughter, but not Dragon's, in this reality). He battled The Bronze Man, an armored villain with vague similarities to either Doctor Doom or Savage Dragon's own OverLord.
During the "Merging of Multiple Earths" storyline, when Mister Glum destroyed the multiverse and collapsed all of the various realities together, there were glimpses of Paul Dragon and his reality in the spectrum of worlds. The name "Paul" appeared, leaving fans wondering whether some aspects of the old Graphic Fantasy stories would eventually make their way into Savage Dragon.
And now, Paul Dragon is at Malcolm Dragon's door with a giant smile on his face.
"After Dragon Senior passed away, it was like 'do you have any regrets?' and it's like, yeah, I kind of regret that Dragon didn't get to see his grandkids grow up a little bit and that we didn't get much of that grandparent relationship," Larsen told ComicBook.com. "There was a little bit of wistful, 'yeah, it's too bad I didn't get to do that.' On the other hand, when Dragon was around, it felt like it was still his book in some way. People would constantly ask, 'when is he taking over?' and 'when is he going to be the star again?' So it's like, I don't want that part of it, but it became like, I wonder if there's something there that can be played with? I wonder if there's something I can get out of this that would be fun for me and fun for the readers. At the same time, I'm just trying to wrap my brain around, 'alright, what is his past now?' because it's so completely ill-defined. When I thin of it, it's like, a lot of this stuff doesn't make sense. I don't know that I can super reconcile all of these little pieces together, but it will be fun trying."
Following "The Merging of Multiple Earths," Larsen told us that Angel and Paul will not see themselves as father and daughter. While they still have a relationship, Larsen says that Angel will not remember Paul as her real father, because the one who is Paul's daughter is technically a different person. He joked that a lot of the timelines don't work, saying that he will most likely ignore the Megaton material, which (among other things) included Ronald Reagan as President. The first appearance of the modern Dragon specifically called out George H.W. Bush as the President at the time he was discovered.
"I'm trying to distill that down so that it's not so cumbersome and complicated that no one can begin to understand it," Larsen said.
While Dragon had served the role as the comic's "Aunt May" after he was released from prison, since he had voluntarily been de-powered while he was on death row, Larsen said that Paul Dragon still does have his super-powers, so at a minimum he won't be a constant target.1comments
"He can very much fend for himself when need be," Larsen said. "He's still a semi-formidable guy, even though he's in his late fifties. So there's that. He's not quite the Aunt May character that [Dragon] used to be, but what role he will end up inevitably taking is still somewhat up in the air. I haven't figured this s--t out yet. A lot of times to keep things interesting, I just throw monkey wrenches into the situation, then try and, 'okay, work your way out of this one.'"
Savage Dragon #250 is on sale now. You can find it at your local comic shop, or pick up a digital copy.