Erik Larsen on the Status Quo-Shattering 'Savage Dragon' #240

This week sees an action-driven and melancholy issue of Savage Dragon hitting the stands as [...]

This week sees an action-driven and melancholy issue of Savage Dragon hitting the stands as Malcolm deals with the fallout from last month's issue.

The issue sees Malcolm Dragon and Freak Force going into full-scale war mode against the Demonoid invasion that began last issue. During the course of the tale, Malcolm has to break away from combat to save his wife, who had been brutally attacked by one of the Demonoids.

And, since we have had a number of issues that took place in close proximity to one another and this comic plays out in real time, the final pages jump forward a few months in order to tease some of the lasting impact to Malcolm's life.

Creator Erik Larsen joined to discuss the issue, which you can buy at your local comic shop, or online today.

Did you ever consider making this a longer storyline, or did you like the kind of manic energy that came out of making it a one-and-done?

No, I really didn't. This kind of fight, against an army of essentially faceless foes can get boring over a long stretch. There really aren't a lot of places to do nice character bits which flesh out characters in a fight scene and it can become repetitive over a long haul. I honestly thought this was stretching things. Plus, because of setting the book in real time that would mean pushing the fight into December and not really acknowledging Christmas.

Malcolm has been living in relative comfort as far as his non-superhero life is concerned. What will it be like for him going forward to have a more grounded financial situation in spite of the babies requiring a lot of upkeep?

We'll see. The reality of his situation is that he has a lot more options than most of us could ever hope to have. At the end of the day he can physically do things done of us can and he's one of the most recognizable people on the planet. So it's not like he's unemployable.

The end of the issue feels like a huge status quo change for Malcolm. Did you just feel like the relocation had not changed things up enough?

It's not that at all. Things change. People change. My life is not the same as it was when I first got married, and relationships change over time. A big part of the book is that kind of progression, where people go through changes and have to deal with their new circumstances. But I'm not sitting here thinking, "Well, Canada didn't change things up enough — I need to really do something drastic." Things are going to change regardless of where the story takes place.

Obviously the long-running sex subplot has now gone completely the other way. Will Malcolm struggle with this, considering how much he was enjoying Maxine's sex addiction?

Oh, sure. Malcolm was a willing and eager participant here. This was all awesome for him and having that cut off is not an easy transition to make. At the same time, he has a wife who went through a devastating and traumatic situation and he needs to be there for her. There is a lot going on here and literally nobody on the planet has ever had to cope with something like this.

In Savage Dragon, Heaven is what you think it is. So after having "died" twice, Maxine had two very different experiences. Will you be exploring what made that happen?

In her case it was actually the same Heaven but earlier she was completely receptive to it and embraced it and this time she had just been through a horrific situation and she wasn't at all in the mood and receptive to it. Maybe Maxine would have eventually tired of it, had she stayed longer the first time, and it would have become the Hell she experienced the second time but in this instance she was not at all eager and willing. She went from one traumatic experience to another.

Last issue, we talked about the kids being potentially traumatized by being around all this blood and violence. This issue almost goes the other way: after seeing Maxine dead in a brutal and disgusting way, she's just…back. Should we be worried that one or more of these kids could become very desensitized to violence?

There is always that risk. Hopefully Malcolm and Maxine do their jobs as parents to help teach their children what's real and what's not real.

Their lives are like nobody else's. In their own lives, if one child has a toy and another wants it they can take it from the other. What happens if it's a normal kid? Will they become bullies? Will they understand that everybody else is comparatively fragile? Do they really understand that their own mother could be killed instantly if she tried to break up a fight between any two of them? They're living in a world where toys are made of eggshells and people are made of soap bubbles. It's all got to be pretty confusing.

That said, why did you decide to have Maxine raped by the Demonoid who killed her? In a book other than Savage Dragon, that likely would have produced a lot of conversation and debate.

It may still. There are things I wanted to get out there — part of that was inspired by the "Me Too" movement and the recent Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Putting the words of monstrous human beings into the mouth of a literal monster seemed appropriate and having Malcolm have nagging questions seemed a good test of his character. It was also really important to me NOT to actually show anything. I have no interest whatsoever in depicting anything so horrific.

We see Malcolm abandon the city and even his kids to save Maxine. Obviously the kids can mostly fend for themselves, but does that decision speak to something bigger about Malcolm's priorities?

I think most of us would choose to save a loved one over a stranger. In the case of Maxine — her life was in danger. Without his immediate help she would be dead. His children are far less vulnerable and not in as much immediate danger. In his mind, this was the right decision to make but everybody else is going to look at that differently. If Malcolm is running off to save her, he's not able to save somebody else and to them — he's abandoned them and left them to die. There's not always an easy answer.

With Malcolm having money problems, will that change the way he has to approach the hero side of his life? I would think that replacing your apartment every couple of months is tough.

He's minutely been staying put and having people come in and fix broken walls and windows when they're destroyed. I expect at this point they have a bit of a financial cushion. I don't think he'll be in the poorhouse just yet but it may necessitate some changes in the future.

That said, you asked on Facebook a while back whether fans would stick with the series even if the superhero stuff was gone. Is there a chance that this issue will push Malcolm in a different direction for a while?

It may. I've been having a good time writing the banter between characters and realizing that some of the fight scenes simply aren't that fun to write. At the same time — they're a lot of fun to draw so I'm kind of being pulled in both directions. The writer wants one thing and the artist wants another. Realistically, I don't see me ditching the superhero aspects entirely for any extended duration.

Is it safe to assume the Freak-Out ban was just a narrative way for you to say "okay, we're done with magic blood for a while?"

Yeah. I kind of want to move on from that. It seems too played out. Characters weren't getting killed on a monthly basis before but even since that workaround was introduced it seems like an important cast member has been getting saved every other month and it loses its impact. It's not the Immortal Dragon, after all.

Will there be fallout from Scourge eradicating the Demonoids? Or at this point was that just a way to reaffirm his power level and get rid of a long-lingering threat?

They may be gone from Toronto but they're not gone from Earth so they may not be gone forever. There could be a whole, interconnected labyrinth down below and others could shuffle on over now that space has opened up. It's not gone forever but it's gone for a while. We're not going to be facing another Demonoid army again any time soon. As far as Scourge goes — it really would depend on if word reaches the rest of the Demonoids or if he really advertised what he'd done. Time will tell.