The Savage Dragon

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A series for Image Comics by Erik Larsen. The title character first appeared in Graphic Fantasy #1 (June, 1982). The character continued appearing through The Eighties in either self-published works or works by minor publishers. When Image was launched, Larsen had the opportunity to launch a regular series based on the character. An initial 4-issue miniseries (July-December, 1992) sold decently. Leading to an ongoing title. It was launched in June 1993 and (as of 2012) is still ongoing.

The Dragon is an extremely broad and muscular green guy with a fin on his head, who was found in a burning field by Lieutenant Frank Darling of the Chicago Police Department. With "Superfreaks", genetically and/or cybernetically-modified criminals running loose in the streets, the Dragon eventually takes up the fight against them. Not as a superhero, mind you, but as a member of the Chicago Police. This allows him to legally and openly fight crime of all sorts, and has also resulted in him being "loaned" to the Police Departments of other cities, which has led him on other adventures (such as an encounter with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mirage). At first, his primary Arch Enemy was Overlord, the leader of a superpowered gang called the Vicious Circle. The Dragon defeated Overlord, only to create an Evil Power Vacuum that resulted in a city-wide gang war as factions within the Circle fought each other for dominance. Since then, he has met other heroes, such as Wildstar and The Maxx, gotten sent to Hell, where he encountered Spawn and witnessed God and Satan throw down over his soul, had a son, lost his son, met Hellboy, fought off a Martian invasion, and was finally suspended from the Police Department.

Since then, Dragon has become a Bounty Hunter, formed a Government Super-Team composed of many of his friends, traveled to alternate universes, found his son again, adopted a daughter, Nearly been elected President of the United States, and many, many other things.

In 1995, an animated series was aired for the USA Network's Cartoon Express. It was much Lighter and Softer than the comic, and aimed at a younger audience. It was actually rather good, due to maintaining the comic's odd humor. (Sentient leeches?)

Savage Dragon is one of the two original Image Comics Series that is still being published since the company was formed, the other being Spawn. This is likely because, unlike most other early Image Comics, Dragon quickly improved into becoming decent. It has also noticeably remained off of Linkara's radar, something that Youngblood, and Dragon spin-off Freak Force were not as lucky about.

It is perhaps notable as the only Image Comic to still be written and drawn by its creator Erik Larsen, a fact that Peter David, who once feuded with Larsen, has applauded.

This series has Loads and Loads of Characters so it naturally has its own Character Sheet.

Tropes used in The Savage Dragon include:
  • After the End: Darkworld is mostly uninhabitable, and has an unstable core that's weeks away from Going Critical. The Savage World looks like this when Dragon first arrives, but eventually it gets better.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The humans are restricted to the normal range of skin tones, but freaks come in all colors.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Dragon is of the Mythical Monster Motiff variety, although there are many side characters who fit other types such as Widow.
  • And This Is For: Dragon, She-Dragon, Angel, and Alex Wilde do this while beating up Dragon's Evil Twin
  • Another Dimension: The Void
  • Anyone Can Die: Due to All the Myriad Ways
    • Dragon recently bit it. Again.
    • The best example would be Rapture who was a major character in the series and Dragon's ex-girlfriend. She was killed in a single page in one of the most shocking scenes in the series. The effects of her death resonate even today.
    • Another strong and literal contender would be the destruction of Earth. And Darkworld. And Godworld. And Warworld. Each of these events killed off a number of significant character. Heck, the destruction of Earth wiped out almost the entire cast.
  • Arch Enemy:Overlord,Cyberface,and Damien Darklord.
  • BFG: Used frequently when Dragon's on the police force. Justified in his case, since he's super-strong. But human characters also tend to heft around giant bazookas from time to time.
  • Big Bad: Dragon's universe is full of villains, but some are tougher than others. Three overarching villains so far.
    • Overlord.
    • Damien Darklord.
    • Cyber Face.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Savage World's Australia has plenty of giant bugs [1], which they've domesticated.
  • Blackmail: Ever since Lt. Darling engineered The Call Knows Where You Live, he's been under the Vicious Circle's thumb.
  • Body Backup Drive: Has featured a number of characters with Power Armor who had previously downloaded their brainwaves into the suit, allowing them to continue fighting long after death.
  • Brainwashed: Everyone in Covenant of the Sword.
    • The psychotic and cruel Emperor Kurr was brainwashed by two of his scientists to save the Earth. He is, in fact, the titular character.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Horde's victims tend to go on killing sprees.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Lt. Frank Darling had to give the call Dragon's address. After Dragon's Refusal of the Call to join the police, Frank paid some Vicious Circle members to threaten his cousin (for whom Dragon was working) to bring home the threat of the supercriminal crime wave. Instead, they blew up the cousin's warehouse, killing him. Dragon was convinced to join the police, but Frank's scheme got him blackmailed by the Vicious Circle.
  • City of Adventure: The comic's version of Chicago seems to be one big Weirdness Magnet. God City also counts for obvious reasons.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Jimbo Da Mighty Lobster; Wesley during a cross-over.
  • Condemned Contestant: The participants in the Forced Prize Fights.
  • Continuity Nod: In issue #24, the Chicago Bull[2] attacks a Bad Guy Bar, where he's killed easily. In issue #75, when that bar is shown in a montage depicting the effects of the Nega-Bomb on Chicago's freaks, the Bull's head can be seen mounted on a wall.
  • Crossover: There have been several that have happened in the pages of this series: Hellboy, Spawn, Madman, Bone, Megaton Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mirage, Mars Attacks!, Destroyer Duck, The Maxx, Wildstar, Youngblood and more.
  • Deader Than Dead: Years after Debbie Harris' first death, she resurfaces as an angel. Then she dies in a hovercar crash.
  • Deadly Dodging: Dragon tricks a giant robot into blowing off its own head this way.
  • Differently-Powered Individual: people with powers are known as "superfreaks", or just "freaks".
  • Diner Brawl: Between Zeek and Rock, the first time they meet in the Savage World.
  • Death Is Cheap: Averted with almost everyone else, Larsen has strong feelings about reviving characters left and right (comedically brought up when Gwen Stacey appears serving Norman Osborn and Lex Luthor lunch at a diner).
    • Dragon himself "dies" a fair bit. Ar at least, he's believed dead by the characters even though the readers know what really happened. Happens so much that it's a running gag.
      • Played with recently in the current storyline inwhich Dragon's revival has lead to him returning to the evil persona of Emperor Kurr. Whats more, Larsen claims that he may be fully intending to have Dragon's son Malcolm take up the mantle.
    • It should be noted that this trope mostly only applies to Dragon. That said, in most cases, the audience knows for a fact that he isn't dead. It's the world around him who believe that he's been killed. Otherwise, if someone dies, they stay dead.
    • Since dimensional travel is a recurring theme within the book, dead characters are often replaced with their counterparts from another dimension. Arguably that could be counted as resurrecting, but most of the time the new version is in some way different than the original, often quite drastically.
  • Dragon Rider: The Skyriders on the Savage World.
  • Dung Fu: Dung, who fires hot faeces from his arm cannons.
  • Earth All Along: Darkworld-- Dragon makes this realization when he finds a Coca-Cola vending machine.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: The fate of Darkworld and Godworld and Earth and Warworld
  • Elaborate Underground Base: In Savage World, the Liberty League headquarters is underneath Dragon's house.
  • Enemy Mine: On a few occasions, Dragon has to team up with the Vicious Circle to defeat a greater threat: on the original Earth, it's Darklord; on Savage World, it's Cyberface.
  • Fake Static: On Savage World, Vanguard does this to cut short an awkward conversation with Dragon, except without the tunnel, since Vanguard's on a spaceship.
  • Faking the Dead: Lt. Darling sends a shapeshifting drone to get vaporized by Overlord in his place. Later averted due to the drone's resilience; it regenerated and repeated its prior actions, tipping off Overlord to the switch.
  • Fantastic Racism
  • Fish People: Atlanteans.
  • Floating Continent: God Town
  • Flying Brick: Mighty Man, Solar Man, Powerhouse, The Fiend, Overlord, Dread Knight, Kid Crimson, Vanguard, and Superpatriot to a certain extent.
  • Flying Car: Dragon has one in Savage World.
  • Flying Saucer: Martian ships
  • Forced Prize Fight: Gladiatorial combat in Savage World Australia.
  • For Want of a Nail: Various flashbacks show in detail how the events of the Savage World timeline can be traced back to Dragon having killed the time-traveling Darklord.
  • Fridge Horror: At first, Emperor Kurr mowing through every enemy he meets seems just like the writer trying to show us how dangerous he is. Then you realise, that's not the only reason. Dragon was the hero of the book, he overcame almost impossible odds every storyline, as with any good superhero. Emperor Kurr is Dragon. He is overcoming impossible odds, but now he's not trying to save us...
  • Fun with Acronyms: Special Operations Strikeforce, the government-sponsored superhero team Dragon leads for awhile. When Erik Larsen came up with the idea back when he was a kid, it was called Society Of Superheroes.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Dragon being attacked by an army of naked, pregnant Alternate Universe Jennifers that have been brainwashed by the Covenant of the Sword.
    • Also Dragon himself whenever his clothes get destroyed.
  • Giant Spider: One of the first of many monsters Dragon faces upon arrival in the Savage World continuity.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: In the Savage World timeline, the gods of every pantheon live together in God Town at the top of a mountain in the USA. But because their leader long ago forbade gods from interfering in mortal affairs, they won't do a thing to help overthrow the Evil Overlord Cyberface.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: During the Mars Attacks! Image crossover, Superpatriot's daughter Liberty is abducted and raped by Martians in a crossbreeding experiment, but she's so staunchly pro-life that she keeps the Half-Human HybridOTOH, this turns out to be a bad idea, as the baby grows up to become Darklord.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Psychotic Vigilante Man Mace used to be an Alternate Company Equivalent of Bucky, but a bomb that killed his mentor left his face severely burnt from the nose up, ruining his chances of joining the image-obsessed superteam Youngblood.
    • The main visual difference between Dragon and his Evil Twin from Darkworld is that the latter, having lost his healing factor in the nega-bomb, is covered in scars.
  • Gratuitous German: Brainiape who is the Brain of Adolf Hitler transplanted into a glass bowl on an ape body takes ze trope and runs with ze trope all ze way to the fuhrer hauptquartier.
  • Groin Attack: Satan kicks God in the crotch during their fight over Dragon's soul.
    • and in the Savage World timeline, Rapture kills her former pimp by grabbing his crotch and electrocuting him through it.
  • Guarding the Portal: Regarding the interdimensional portal built in Dragon's basement:

Angel: How come we have one of those?
Dragon: I'm in charge of it. I have to make sure no monsters escape.
Angel: If we didn't have it, no monsters could escape.
Dragon: Uh... yeah, well, you see... why don't you go bother your mother?

Dragon: There wasn't a gun. No bullet, either. I didn't have one on me, so I chewed on a dime while I was scaling the building and I spit it through his forehead.

  • Invisible President: Averted for every sitting president since the series started. When Dragon wakes up in the first issue, he mentions that George Bush (senior) is the president but has no information regarding his own name. Later in the series, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barak Obama all make appearances while in office.
    • Even Al Gore appears as president in one issue ( he was appointed after Clinton got killed).
    • This trope is also played with since Dragon himself nearly became the president at one point.
  • It's All My Fault: Dragon angsting over the destruction of his home Earth in his absence.
  • I Am Not His Girlfriend: Alex keeps having to correct the Vicious Circle goons holding her hostage. At this point, she and Dragon are technically just friends with benefits.
  • Killed Off for Real: With the exception of the title character himself, who has made revivals a habit, people who die, usually stay dead and when they don't, usually they are practically a different character. Larsen claims that Dragon's most recent demise at the end of the Emperor Dragon storyline will be the last we see of him.
    • And yet again averted; Dragon (or at least the clone with his mind; long story) has been revived by his alien species, but has decided to help them instead of taking back the book.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: due to Universo's Energy Absorption powers, the only weapons it's safe to use against him are guns. Apparently, he can't absorb kinetic energy.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Dragon thought he was sterile.
  • Literal Genie: Angel wishes she was "big" i.e. an adult, so adults couldn't boss her around. But Mr. Glum misinterprets her wish and concocts a serum for her that makes her grow to giant size, destroying the house and hospitalizing her mother.
    • Lampshaded later by Angel when Mr. Glum is trying to decide what to use the God Gun's third wish on. She figures out the precise way to word his wish to allow him to Take Over the World.
    • Even after wording his wish correctly and acquiring a Compelling Voice, Glum's commands sometimes don't result in the desired effects. e.g. when he tells Mighty Man "You should be out for Savage Dragon's blood. Go take care of him!", Mighty Man goes to the hospital to get some of the blood Dragon donated back before he lost his healing factor, and injects Dragon with it, returning his original power level.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Despite the title focusing on a single character, there have been literally hundreds of supporting characters, side characters, and villains throughout the years.
  • Magma Woman: Volcanic, a Vicious Circle freak.
    • and on the Savage World, the Lava Lords and the Magmanites are two whole races of magma men.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe
  • Made of Plasticine: Characters without some form superhuman resilence tend to die rather messily when punched by a superpowered freak. Even the really tough guys are not safe, when enough force is applied.
  • Monster Modesty: Strongly averted. Dragon and several characters look monstrous but are usually fully clothed.
  • Most Common Superpower: It's not restricted to superhuman women by far. Lampshaded at one point when Dragon's dating one of the few women with a normal sized chest to appear in the comic: "the girls he dates usually look like they'd bounce right back onto their feet if they fell forward"
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Oddly, despite his various near-death and actual-death experiences, this doesn't happen to Dragon until the relatively uneventful issue 63, when he's abducted by Overlord.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Type C-- on the Savage World, Dragon keeps getting the name of Ann Stevens' boyfriend wrong.
  • Nazi Hunter: Super-Patriot's side job.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Covenant of the Sword
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: During his crossover with Hellboy, Dragon fights a giant gorilla mummy.
  • No Ontological Inertia: When the God Gun is destroyed, the wishes it granted are undone.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Officer Howard Niseman hates blacks, gays, and freaks, but gets partnered with a gay black man, and later with the freak She-Dragon, and apparently does his job well to the satisfaction of his black commanding officer.
  • No One Could Survive That: Happens a lot to Dragon, but on the Savage World, it becomes a Running Gag for these two guys to show up, look at the footage of his supposed death and argue about whether he could've survived.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Dragon has to do this several times in the Savage World timeline, since he keeps having to explain the events that led to him being on this alternate Earth.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mendosa, who, as The Mole, did this intentionally. Stephenson later plays this role in SOS.
  • The Only One: justifiably invoked in issue 65, since Dragon is the only one immune to Simon Kane's mind control.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Mjolnir. Merely touching it with his bare hand causes half of Dragon's body to melt away.
  • Origins Issue: Dragon's origin was finally revealed (to the readers; his past was unknown in-continuity until he regained his original memories in early 2010) in 2005, 13 years after The Savage Dragon began.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: When Dr. SivanaNirvana's power draining AmazoAbsorbanoids are shot by DarkseidDarklord's ParademonsDevil Dogs while they're already busy draining Captain MarvelMighty Man, they overload and explode.
  • Powers as Programs: Billy Berman uses a Dr. Nirvana-constructed-device to steal Ann's Mighty Man powers.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: On Savage World, fanboy Augie De Blieck Jr. tries this with Freak Force. Except in this reality, there never was a Freak Force-- he's trying to rebuild a team that he only knows about from Dragon's stories about his original Earth.
  • Red Shirts:The SWAT team that accompanies Dragon to arrest Overlord. Human cops in general have a tendency to die by the bucketload.
  • Reset Button: Supplied by Darklord after Kurr completely massacres the human race and most everyone else on Earth except himself and Virus!Dragon.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The title started off being dark and edgy since it was first published in The Dark Age of Comic Books. As the series came into its own, it became much lighter.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Justified-- Dragon doesn't remember the past of the Savage World timeline because his mind switched places with that of SW's original Dragon.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The home of Gertie, Jennifer's friend in the Savage World timeline.
  • Public Domain Character: Golden Age Daredevil and the Little Wise Guys, along with a few others.
  • Running Gag: The Atlanteans keep trying to invade the surface world, only to keep exploding from Explosive Decompression.
  • Ruritania: LatveriaLieberheim, a small country ruled by Doctor DoomDread Knight.
  • Schmuck Bait: Dragon, before going to attack the Covenant of the Sword, leaves BatmanSgt. Marvel with a sealed envelope and tells him to open it if he doesn't hear from him in three days. He opens it as soon as Dragon leaves the room, only to find that the note says "Sgt Marvel, You prick-- I knew you couldn't wait three days. I went after the bad guys. I'm on a rescue mission. You're the hotshot detective-- you figure it out."
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers: The explicitly stated rationale of some of the criminal freaks.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The SWAT team that accompanies Dragon to arrest Overlord has a couple of guys arguing about Forrest Gump.
  • Sex Equals Love: Dragon and Alex's stint as Friends with Benefits eventually ends when Alex wants something more and Dragon doesn't.
  • Shared Universe: Larsen considers all of comicdom to exist in the same universe, along with his own series (and any spin offs). This has led to creator owned characters such as Hellboy to make appearances and every few issues, there is a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo or two from characters who are most certainly not a part of the Marvel Universe or The DCU.
  • Side Bet: In issue 64, Dragon asks out Marcy Howard, the assistant director of a commercial he's starring in. His friend Chester, who he leaves behind to babysit Angel, doesn't think she'll give him the time of day. When Dragon and Marcy get back and appear to have hit it off, Angel says "That's five bucks you owe me."
  • Society Is to Blame: Powerhouse is really desperate to convince Dragon that Fantastic Racism against freaks makes it okay for him to establish a criminal syndicate.
    • The new Overlord makes the same claim, and actually backs it up pointing out that normal work isn't really an option for "Freaks" thanks to all the Fantastic Racism
  • Space Police: The Cosmic Cops
  • Spoof Aesop: After Dragon and Angel's run-in with Candyman:

Dragon: Well, I hope you learned something today, Angel...
Angel: Oh, I did. I learned was that you need good traction to run on chocolate.
Dragon: That's not really what I meant...
Angel: That, and it's possible to choke down broccoli if it's properly prepared.

  • Spotting the Thread: Dragon is approached on two separate occasions by imposters impersonating dead lovers of his. Both times, he can tell by their mannerisms, inflection, and choice of words that they're fakes.
  • Supercop
  • Super Gender Bender: Ann Stevens, a nurse who becomes a tall, blond, male superhero when she taps her wrists together.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: This series has been running in real time for nearly twenty years, and by now, there are plenty of second-generation superhumans running around.
  • Super Soldier: Baby Darklord kidnaps women carrying superpowered fetuses from all over The Multiverse in order to create an army of Super Soldiers.
  • Super Strength: There is a variety of powers on display here but nearly every superhuman has super strength to one degree or another. Since this is the Dragon's main power, it makes since that it's the most common... well second most common.
  • Take That: There have been several against John Byrne and Marvel Comics.
    • As well as the Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of The Sandman... who Dragon promptly punched in the faced, calling him a "hair-teased Tim Burton reject" and saying that there was "any boob can come up with a cheap knock-off like you."
      • This was after Larsen publically called Gaiman a "jerk" for having the audacity to get the Miracleman license back from {=Todd McFarlane=]. All of this resulted in a Flat What from the comic book community, what with Neil considered the biggest Nice Guy in the business since Archie Goodwin...
      • Then again, Larsen has been known to defend his fellow Image founders fiercely. He continued backing Rob Liefeld when almost everyone else were ditching him.
  • Talking Is a Free Action
  • This Cannot Be!: spoken by some big-headed mind controller after Dragon figures out that he's the one controlling his opponent in the Forced Prize Fight.
  • Three Wishes: The wish-granting God Gun can only be fired three times per user.
  • Time Skip: 2 years pass in issue 96 while Dragon is trapped for what he perceives as a few minutes in a gelatinous bubble in the Void. This allows the Savage World's recovery from After the End to a normal state to happen entirely off-panel. Later, the world recovers from Mr. Glum's reign of terror during a 1 year Time Skip.
  • Transformation Ray: In the wake of Mars Attacks! Image Comics, there are Martian shrinking rays floating around. Dragon shrinks a bunch of villains with one, and later gets hit by one himself.
  • Unfortunate Names: The Chicago PD's roster has at one time or another included Rita Medermade, Ben Dover, Richard Head, Semore Heiney, Mike Rotch, Bea O'Problem, Mike Litoris, Eileen Ulick, Urassis Itchy, Anita Mann, Dick Hertz, Hugh Jass. There was also one-time appearance by a reporter named Michael Hunt, and a recurring talk-show host named Harry Paratestees.

Dragon, bursting into a seedy bar: "I'm looking for Amanda Love!"
Bar patrons flee in a panic.
Dragon facepalms: "Oh, for Christ's sake...!"

  • Wham! Episode: Issue 76, the comic's setting suddenly changes to The Savage World, the page layout changes, the sex and profanity is gone (for a little while, at least), there are a lot more thought bubbles, and the comic acquires a new third-person Narrator.
  • The Windy City: The comic mostly takes place in Chicago.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Malcolm's school bully Witherspoon. He constantly harasses Malcolm for apparently riding off his father's success, being a virgin, and according to him, a lame superhero, constantly egging him on. This is despite the fact that after punching him in the face, he broke his hand.

Maclcolm: You just punched a brick wall.

  1. as a result of Martian enlarging rays
  2. a washed up freak actor reviled by the freak community for being a sellout