Pipeline: Savage Dragon Collections and The Old Guard Movie

Savagely Messy Dragon

I'm going through a major reorganization of my comics collection right now.

Things have gotten out of sorts in recent years. Comics move from box to box based on how to fit them in the smallest space instead of how to keep them organized.

My individual issues -- and, thankfully, I have them all -- of "The Savage Dragon" are well-tended, neat, and orderly. I have three longboxes that include all of "Dragon," plus its various spin-offs, and everything else Erik Larsen has drawn that I've collected over the years.

Then, I have this:

bookcase of Savage Dragon collections
(Photo: Augie De Blieck Jr.)

I finally pulled together all of the trade paperbacks from several different boxes and bookcases. I think. I wouldn't be surprised if I did find more yet....
Right now, it's a disorganized mess. It'll take some patience and some memory skills, but I'll get it sorted out soon.

Congrats to Erik Larsen for hitting issue #250 this week, by the way. It's a remarkable accomplishment in this modern age of comics. It's tough to picture anyone coming close to doing this again. Heck, it's impossible to picture anyone going 60 issues again.

The one hope we have for it ever happening is if someone is inspired by Robert Kirkman the way Kirkman was inspired by Larsen, and that person goes off to make their own 150 issue serial that seems never-ending until suddenly it does.

The Old Guard Movie Review

(Photo: Image Comics)

I watched it "opening night." I'm such a comics fanboy. I built up my excitement for it all week like it was a "real" movie opening. But it wasn't; it was better. It also involved less driving, nobody chewing popcorn right behind me, and far fewer trailers. Next time, I might go to the Apple Trailers app and watch a couple before streaming a movie, just for old time's sake

I have a hard time judging the movie. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I have to admit there are two things going on in my head when I think back on it:

First, this is a made-for-television movie that looks like a full blown Hollywood production. I know this is horribly unfair and that Netflix, et. al. have been making full scale movie productions for years, but it still strikes me as amazing. Welcome to 2020, me.

I didn't need to pay $12.50 to see this movie. I already paid that much for Netflix for the entire month. Everything I watch after this now is gravy.

Second, I read the first trade paperback for the column last week. It was fresh in my mind. I couldn't help but compare the movie to the book at every step of the way. (This is what ruined the Jurassic Park movie. I had literally finished the novel the day before, and the movie did not live up to the book for me. I wish I had some more distance between the two.)

That is doubly true because Greg Rucka wrote the movie's script. I knew most everything that was coming. I looked forward to seeing it. I knew the general structure of the story.

The question was, which parts would Rucka have to change to accommodate production or to make a better movie?

For sure, he added a lot to the movie, fleshing out the characters and some of the situations beautifully. The big change seems to be that Nile became the lead in the movie, while Andy was the lead in the book. There's also a major change to Andy's character for the movie in the second half that bothers me a little bit for reasons I can't spoil. I can see a number of different reasons for making that change, though. As a screenwriter, it gave Rucka much more material to work with.

Detail from a Netflix movie poster for The Old Guard
(Photo: Netflix)

It took a little while for me to warm up to Charlize Theron as Andy, but that's mostly because the character is meant to be cold and unapproachable to begin with. The comic introduces her as someone who likes to, er, socially network in very close quarters quite frequently. Andy might be curt and no-nonsense when leading her team, but that instantly gave her a bit more of a light-hearted feeling. It felt like immortality could lead to some semblance of fun to pass the time, which is something established in that moment in the comic early on, only for Rucka to destroy it over the course of the rest of the book.

Rucka kept the line in the movie about Auguste Rodin later on, so the character point wasn't lost. It was just underplayed, likely to keep the character more consistent. Her state of mind during this movie's time frame is not happy-go-lucky. She's not looking to meet new people. She's despairing of humanity. She wants less to do with them.

That's where my mind is with this movie -- I enjoyed it and thought it ended strongly. I love that people who don't have any clue that it was ever a comic are finding it now because Netflix had it on their front page "New" list. Particularly these days, that screen real estate is pure gold.

My mind just can't stop jumping between the two versions and thinking of what changes were made and why they may have gone that way. It's turned the movie into a writing analysis exercise for me. That's an unfortunate force of habit for a 20+ year comics columnist...


The comic is good and you should read it. The movie is good and, structurally speaking, is probably better than the comic. You should watch it.

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