Monday, September 5, 2011

Chronic Approved: Savage Dragon # 173!

I got my DCB Service box on Friday, read most of them today.  (Couldn't wait to dive into FF, that got read the instant I got home from work)  What is it today, Labor Day?  Is that why I'm not getting mail?  Whatever actual day we're supposed to be celebrating, I hope yours is going better than mine.

I got sick.  So I'm a bit off, I have zero patience, and it feels like my higher faculties are missing at the moment.  I doubt I'll have anything of import or insight to share, which is just as well.  Spacey angry posts can be good, too, I suppose.

I read a lot of pretty good comics today, the theme seemed to be a packet of well-intentioned but very much self aware books; Batman, Inc. # 8, Xombi # 6, and Butcher Baker The Righteous Maker # 6.  Each is very aware of how clever they are, to be specific.  And this can be a good thing, and I wouldn't suggest that any of these comics constituted bad storytelling. 

The best book nobody read
I rather enjoyed Xombi # 6, matter of fact.  That book has a signature energy, a kind of child-like exuberance rarely seen from well, anyone or any thing these days.  Xombi # 6 featured a sisterhood of blood mummies with two hearts, cloaks made from spiders still crawling about their handiwork, and each carrying a moon blade with 28 different side effects.  Depending on what phase the moon is in, a strike from one of those blades might remove memories of loved ones.  That's what John Rozum brought to the table every issue of this woefully under appreciated series.  Frazier Irving's art was always off the charts, too.  I don't even understand art and I know what he's doing to special.  We didn't order it, so we don't deserve it, I guess.

Batman, Inc. was interesting, but this one was probably the most "in your face" with how cutting edge it desperately wanted you to understand it was.  Lots of virtual threats in cyber space, with Batman again showing how far out of the box he's become with his crusade against crime.  And it is smart, to be sure.  The art, quite odd and fascinating.  For me, the package as a whole didn't land.  We'll blame it on the bacteria raging through my system.

Like Playboy, read it for the articles
And once again, I enjoyed the back matter in Butcher Baker 300% more than I enjoyed the main contents.  I did enjoy the fact that Casey is elevating the Jackie Gleason Sheriff's role into something closer to formidable, and pushing Butcher toward something more zen than cro magnun.  But mostly it was a lot of experimental psychedelia, and a lot less fun than we've been having. 

The back matter, of course, was worth the price of admission.  And in this installment, mostly Casey describes his comic book reading rituals as a teenager.  I wish I could have had 20 pages of that, frankly.  Matter of fact, I think if Joe Casey were to attempt something along the lines of Morrison's Super Gods, I would pay $20 for that without a twitch.  Just - bam! - give me that, right now. 

The comic that struck me most today was Savage Dragon, though.  It all started with a throw-away gag that Larsen planted in a newspaper Malcolm was reading:

Now that's funny to me, all day long.  It's a nice example of a way in which comics work that most mediums do not.  You could certainly do that in South Park, for sure.  But South Park's entire game is centered around pushing boundaries and doing what established mores say one should not.  I don't think it's commentary on marketing/advertising, or anything dull like that.  I think Erik Larsen just thought that was funny, (he's correct) it's his book, (he's also correct about that) and so he just did it.  You can still do stuff like that in comics.  For a little while, any way.

I'm always a little back-and-forth on Dragon, I think because I'm not really the target audience.  What I ultimately find appealing is this sort of weird paradox where things are wide open, free, and it doesn't take itself too seriously, and's very respectful to it's players.  The book is crazy, but there's never any winking to the audience about how silly all of this is.  We're meant to care about the characters and the events that shape their lives.  Erik Larsen certainly does, and there's no Deadpoolian playing to the crowd to subvert the drama.

But make no mistake, the book is crazy.  The "big bad" of this issue was a red-faced behemoth named "Mr. Glum", for god's sake.  But then again, inside of that Larsen was playing with the negative side effects of fame and image, and the burden's of legacy.  Of course the bulk of the action was spurred by Mr. Glum wanting to go on a kind of "date night" cheeseburger run in another dimension with his partner, who is pretty hot and really shouldn't want anything to do with a would-be-world-conqueror with a red stone face. 

And it all would have gone off without a hitch, but Mr. Glum forgot to bring money, and couldn't remember what American dollars looked like well enough to pass off his illusion.  So he dined and dashed, and Malcolm Dragon proceeded to dispense with culinary justice.  Naturally, this will almost certainly cause Mr. Glum to try and take over the planet somewhere down the road.  It's just...crazy.  But it's a good kind of crazy, and it's the kind we don't see enough of in comics. 

Larsen didn't write that story so he could sell a "Mr. Glum Attacks" crossover event six months from now.  He obviously did it because he thought it might be interesting and develop the characters a bit before they got to punching each other in the face.  And once again, Erik Larsen is right.  It was fun, and it is interesting.  And with the poop joke included, this month's issue of Savage Dragon is absolutely certified as "Chronic Approved".

- Ryan

1 comment:

CAG said... the fucking annoying terrestrial radio saying goes...First time-Long time here. I have been a, Every Monday, Addicted Listener, since spring 2011. Haven't missed an episode. I was extremely saddened, when you guys took that hiatus. I knew you would be back though. The production value and straight up heart for this shit we collect comes through from you guys...and it's just fuckin beautiful. Ok so now I wanna admit...tell my story...I found you through a bleeding cool article....and guess what..yeaaaa speculator corner is what I fuckin salivate for from his fish and chips ass. Not because I I can't find the deals or have no common sense when a petty Image #1 issue comes out. But because I buy, I flip, I collect, I have 22K comics in 4 draw-legal size-vertical filing cabinets obsessively entered into an online database, hit too many shows...but really.....I just need to share it and trade info with like minded share the monetary value, flipping(taking advantage of price fluctuations spelled out for others), part of the industry. No one else does it, no one else speaks of it, most people don't understand it....but you guys understand....So when you came back, and killed the (talking) portion of Market killed a little bit of the light in me..I like to bang Kate Beckinsale on the moon too you know....I love the written M.S. But you need to talk to need to reconsider...bring that mutha fucka back. I'm 36..just a few years younger than you guys...but I've been flipping for years..I have deals that I could share with you guys all the time, not just tpbs....There's another Keith in you lives..not Miracle Keith...I'm Jersey Keith...and I love what you do..