The Savage Dragon, the short-lived cartoon based on Erik Larsen's long-running Image Comics series, is streaming on Peacock, marking the first time that the show has had an official release for home entertainment. The series, which ran on USA Network as part of an action-themed group of Saturday morning cartoons in the '90s, is not well-regarded by Larsen or the comic's fans, but it does mark one of the first attempts to bring Image Comics characters to a wider audience outside of comic shops, and as with any series aimed at kids, it has some fans, even if they generally remember it better than it was.
The series centers on Dragon, a super-powered "freak" with a fin on his head and no memory of his past. When he wakes up in a burning field, he is rescued by the Chicago Police Department, who recruit him to fight supervillains and protect the city from a rising tide of crime. The central villain of the animated series is OverLord, an armored villain who served as the primary antagonist for the first couple of years of the comic.
The Savage Dragon debuted in 1995 and ran for 26 episodes over two seasons. Episodes have been available in poor-quality VHS rips on YouTube for years, but recently began disappearing due to copyright claims by NBCUniversal. Little did fans know that was because the show was getting an official release.
Also today, Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon comic book reaches 250 issues, with a 100-page giant that features variant covers by Frank Cho, Walter Simonson, Skottie Young, Rob Liefeld, and more.
Since Savage Dragon is set in real time and in a real-ish version of the world, it is often the first mainstream superhero comic to tackle big, current events. In last month's Savage Dragon #249, the series mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic (which hugely informs today's issue). In the upcoming #252, Larsen will address the recent Black Lives Matter protests.
The latter has come up at least a few times before, since Dragon has since passed away and his son Malcolm is the series' new protagonist. Malcolm's mother was an African-American woman, and he followed in his father's footsteps as a police officer, so Savage Dragon seems like an obvious place to acknowledge those tensions. Even before Malcolm, though, that was part of the comic's DNA; in a sequence added to the first Savage Dragon hardcover, Larsen introduced a police officer who was a violent bigot -- and had Dragon immediately take him down a notch during a sequence set during Dragon's first day on the job.
The Savage Dragon features the voice work of Jim Cummings as Dragon, Tony Jay as OverLord, and Kath Soucie as Alex Wilde, Dragon's partner on the force. Other iconic voice actors like Peter Cullen and Rob Paulsen have roles in the series as well.
The Savage Dragon is currently streaming on Peacock, NBCUniversal's new streaming service. You can see it for free, or buy into premium tiers (both with an dwithout ads) for a little more.