Against All Odds

If you can’t overwhelm them with state-of-the-art designs, bowl ’em over with sheer numbers.

Savage Dragon © Erik Larsen

art: Erik Larsen colors: I.H.O.C. book: Savage Dragon © Erik Larsen

And recognizing that drawing headshots for a roll call of all these bad guys would take another whole spread and ruin the surprise, while at once realizing the inherent awesome-ness of a roll call, Erik copyrighted every one of these baddies and listed their names in the indicia:

larsenindiciaNow, many of these characters are merely parodies of other properties, (Nuke Rage, the Human Sparkler, Fade, Octopus, not to mention heroes like Mighty Man and Kill Cat) but many, many are not.  Some are kind of silly.  Far too many have exposed brains in some sort of glass case (one of which belongs to Hitler).  The guy dead center does not seem to realize that even a molester from the Seventies would deem a costume featuring a hole to reveal every follicle of Austin Powers-level chest hair, a cod-piece,  AND a cape is overdoing it a tad.   Some of them obviously started as bad puns but evolved into a pretty killer design on the drawing board: Open-Face and Doubleheader spring to mind.  One of the coolest villains just has the head of a chicken.  However, all of it looks pretty great when Erik draws it.  It all hangs together and somehow seems cohesive thanks to a single creator at the helm in a way that, say, DC’s pantheon doesn’t.  Wait, I take that back — all of DC’s characters do look the same: they all look like crap.  And, lovably, Larsen doesn’t take this all very seriously.  He seems to design some characters on the page and knows full well many will just be cannon fodder.  However, since the man loves a surprise, he’ll make sure the guy who’s gonna die in three more pages has one of the best costumes in the ish.  The love Erik has for the genre shines through on every page, and you can’t help but embrace his often ridiculous, but wildly creative, and sometimes surprisingly nuanced world.  Larsen holds himself up to a very high standard, and you can see him trying to push further and overdo it nearly every issue.  This is abundantly apparent in shots like the one above, which occur in some form every 8 issues or so.  Savage Dragon will win over anyone who found the form of comics young because it’s the book all of us were writing in our heads when we put down our X-Mens and Fantastic Fours and went outside to play our own versions, usually with more killings, crazier twists, and even bigger chests (male and female).  If grown men choose to scoff at it, I completely understand.  I can’t really defend a guilty pleasure.  Larsen characters smartly appeal to the collector in me and nearly inherently all comic book lovers.  I’m not much of a creepy man-child, but if someone made nice, iconic toys of all his characters, I’d need to buy every one. The same cannot be said for any other company’s line, but could be said if someone only released toys of Kirby’s complete creations.

One man did this.