Erik Larsen Talks 'Savage Dragon' #233, And What's Next After That Shocker Ending

With a game-changing ending that promises to upend the status quo of the series (yet again), Erik [...]

With a game-changing ending that promises to upend the status quo of the series (yet again), Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon churned out an emotional issue this week, and left us with a lot of questions.

The issue centered on both leads -- Malcolm and his wife Maxine -- being in the hospital while the rest of the supporting cast was fighting their own battles (and Freak Force was fighting the US government). Meanwhile, the reality show starring Malcolm, Maxine, and the kids premiered.

Larsen joined to discuss the issue. Spoilers lie ahead, so if you have not yet read Savage Dragon #233, go buy a copy and read along with us.

I like the old-school caption boxes on the first page. Are you trying to tonally distinguish the two different stories that are going on, on Earth and Dimension-X? Or just having some fun with it?

More fun than anything else. Ferran does a great job emulating lettering from many different eras. I was particularly enamored with Artie Simek's work and I've been pushing to see more of that. There's something about it that just looks and feels like a "real" comic book to me.

Alex looks like she's aged about five years since all of this started. Should we be worried for her?

Every so often I remind myself that time is passing for all of these characters and then make slight visual adjustments. At this point Alex is 45 years old and I thought she should look her age. Unfortunately with ink on paper—there are only so many options. A black line is a black line. I can't really do those fine lines people really get—I'm limited by the tools at my disposal.

We talked last time about how you hadn't really thought ahead to how you would get out of having the dead guy stuck in Malcolm, but here it obviously helped out with the plot in the sense that he wasn't able to be there with Maxine. Was that part of the consideration when you decided how to do it?

It's all part of the thought process going into any move. I'm constantly thinking about what leads to the most stories and what the inevitable payoff is. There's a lot of setting up dominoes in anticipation of them being toppled in one direction or another. I'm also weighing different options constantly. If I go this direction I can do A, B and C but if I go that direction I can do X, Y and Z. And then I'll consider which results in better stories down the road.

Do you think the Dragon family celebrity helps them a little bit here? The first responders at the house figure out what happened with the fetus pretty quick, and the doctors in the ER seem to understand how Malcolm's powers work.

Oh, absolutely. Malcolm has been in and out of the hospital and Maxine has had regular checkups. So they're already familiar to begin with but add to that that these are celebrities of sorts and that they're high profile and any real screw ups will reflect badly on your department and things move pretty quickly. All of the emergency contact into is in place. Once the paramedics were on their way, Mei and Kevin were called in—even though Malcolm was incapable of calling them.

SuperPatriot says that some of their friends have gone missing. Will we eventually learn who, or is that just kind of world building?

He's talking specifically about Jennifer and Angel Murphy. Angel was a member of Special Operations Strikeforce and they worked close to each other.

Going after individual members of Freak Force seems really counterproductive to the government's interests, am I wrong?

The government is big. Freak Force is small. If Freak Force is methodically and deliberately engaging in anti-government activities then they are a threat. Basically, SuperPatriot and the others went rogue after #225 and the government is not too happy about that.

I won't lie: losing Maxine hurts. This one was unexpected and one of the hardest losses in a long time. What went into the decision to kill her now?

With everything—it's a matter of weighing all of the possible storylines this way and that. Are there more stories to be told with the two as a couple or is there more potential in Malcolm being a single father with four children and his own TV show? Is there more to say about the character? Is there not? I have to look at all of the angles and weigh all of the options. It's seldom as simple as it appears. Often I'm plotting out different paths and looking years into the future.

Why have her not wake up at any point? Was there a reason you wanted her agency in all of this removed in this issue?

I didn't want her or Malcolm to make any decisions here. Both of them know things that the doctors may not know and I wanted that out of the conversation. At the same time—I didn't want Maxine to die without having heard her voice or seen her in action to some degree and that's why I incorporated the reality TV show as much as I did—to remind readers of what she was like when she was conscious.

Will Malcolm have any trouble with law enforcement, given that he's now a single dad to these kids who we can see on TV can be dangerous?

Malcolm has a support group of sorts with Kevin and Mei and nothing changes in that regard. And that group is only going to expand. I don't know that Maxine offered much in the way of protection in that regard. It's not as though she has superpowers. But keep in mind—the kids grow stronger every day. At this point they're far more capable of protecting themselves than most adults. These are kids who were literally throwing buses around in a scrapyard.

Obviously now we have Malcolm as a single father. How will that shake up the book?

I think that's pretty self-evident. If Malcolm's a single man with four children—that's a whole new ball game and for any woman entering into that situation—those are huge shoes to fill.

Meanwhile, Mei is pregnant with a child who might kill her…while mourning her first child, who died exactly that way. What is going through hers and Kevin's heads going into the next issue?

They have got to be feeling pretty desperate. There aren't a whole lot of options for them. If the lightning powers are passed down to the child as they were in Malcolm's case—that child inside Mei could kill her at any moment. That has to weigh heavily. And removing that child is no guarantee of anything.