• Savage Dragon #198


    Published by: Image Comics
    Released on: Sept. 17, 2014


    Malcolm’s seriously got his hands full in this transitional issue setting up probably multiple storylines for him.

    [SPOILER-HEAVY REVIEW FOLLOWS]

    This issue opens with an 11-year-old Malcolm getting introduced to future girlfriend, Maxine, by his “sister,” Angel. The playful but honest attraction between Malcolm and Maxine (going by “MJ” at this stage of her life) is readily evident the moment they meet and serves as the basis for her future decisions we’ll see by issue’s end.

    Maxine is going on yet another blind date set up by her parents (100 in a year, we’re told). Except the fella this time is the Asian-American policeman that recently saved her life. But he can see what’s up as Maxine’s just about at her wit’s end with her parents’ meddling. Elsewhere, officer Frank Darling meets with Captain Stewart, to discuss Malcolm’s future, doing their own meddling, it seems. Now that Malcolm’s lost his electrical-charge power these cops know things are going to be a great deal more difficult for him. But they reason that his dad managed to do just fine without it so he should be alright. The captain just wants to make sure that Frank gets Malcolm to commit to joining the force, to be on their side/beck-and-call.

    They also discuss some other weird things that are happening in Malcolm’s world of enemies but, at that exact moment, his biggest opponent is tardiness. He’s fighting a huge troll and trying to get to school on time. As it’s the first day of his senior year, he knows he can’t miss out. He makes it just in time - after being told to go home and shower as he’s pretty rank - and seems happy enough.

    Frank and Stewart go to investigate the big hole that troll crawled out of, with Frank hopping down for a look-see. Back at the precinct, Maxine’s latest “date” is getting ready for work, feeling bad for Maxine’s situation. But he has more pressing matters at the moment - namely, one of the trolls Malcolm brought in has some disturbing news for them all. He tells the humans that they’re just trying to find a new home due to the fact that, down inside the earth, the ant people are breeding like crazy, “lava lords” and “magmites” are fighting it out, and the demonoids are fighting their own fights, all combining into a big ol’ mess.

    Meanwhile, Maxine is at home and finally loses it with her folks. She’s just had enough and storms out, moving out with her stuff once and for all. Back at that hole, Stewart is worried that Frank hasn’t come back so he asks Malcolm to investigate. He hops down into the hole and is immediately surrounded by any number of baddies that the troll told the cops about earlier. But he’s there to find his old friend Frank so he sets about his task quickly.

    He finds Frank subdued but in good condition so he throws him up, out of the hole, to safety. He still has a great many foes to contend with - made all the more difficult by Maxine calling to tell him she’s finally out of her folks’ place and waiting outside his apartment, ready to move in with him. Malcolm does his best but can’t really get into the conversation, given his situation, so their call ends abruptly as he attempts to collapse the earth back into the hole. Just then, though, a massive demonic arm reaches up and snags him by the foot, dragging him back down…

    Erik Larsen continues to have a blast with this title, piling it on the hapless teenager at the center of it all in a way we didn’t get to see when it was the previous Savage Dragon character. It’s entertaining as all get out and a great deal of fun to read. Check this one out if you’ve been delaying doing so!

    (This issue also contains another installment of the stand-alone Vanguard story, started in the previous issue.)