The Dragon is a large, super-strong, finned, green-skinned humanoid. He is an amnesiac; his earliest memory is awakening in a burning field in Chicago. Thus, for most of the series, his powers and appearance were a mystery to readers. At the beginning of the series, he became a police officer and battled the mutant criminal "superfreaks"—principally the Vicious Circle—that were terrorizing Chicago.
Along with Spawn, The Savage Dragon is one of two original Image titles still published and the only one still written and drawn by its creator. It is the longest tenure of a writer/artist on a single comic book series in the history of American comic books. Larsen's run is consecutive and intact.
The character was also adapted into a short-lived (26 total episodes) USA network animated series during the 1994 and 1995 seasons.
Creation and publication historyLike many of Erik Larsen's characters, the Savage Dragon was created by Larsen while he was a child in elementary school. In his youth, Larsen would draw the Dragon in home-made comic books. The original Dragon, inspired by elements from Captain Marvel, Batman, Speed Racer and later The Incredible Hulk differed greatly from the modern incarnation. After launching the Savage Dragon as a genuine comic-book, Larsen would later hark back to the original Dragon and rework his designs into the characters, William Jonson (a police-officer ally of the Dragon), and Flash Mercury, the Spectacular Dragon.
Much later, a greatly redesigned Savage Dragon was featured in two issues of Graphic Fantasy, a self-published title of low-print run published by Larsen and two friends. In this incarnation, the Dragon was a widower and retired member of a government-sponsored super-hero team. Subsequently, the Dragon made his break-out appearance in the third issue of Gary Carlson's Megaton anthology in its Vanguard strip, which Larsen had been drawing. In these appearances, the character of the Dragon remained basically the same as it had been in Graphic Fantasy, with a few details modified (such as the inclusion of his wife, who was dead in his previous incarnation). Both the Graphic Fantasy and Megaton issues containing the Dragon have since been reprinted in high-quality editions.
Then in 1992, when Larsen, and his other Image Comics co-founders left Marvel, Larsen re-worked the character yet again. This time the Dragon was a massively-muscled green amnesiac, who upon being discovered in a blazing field, joined the Chicago police department. Initially debuting in a three issue mini-series, The Savage Dragon comic book met with enough success to justify a monthly series, launched in 1993. To this day, Larsen continues to write and illustrate the series entirely by himself, and has maintained a reasonably consistent monthly schedule—save for occasional lapses—in comparison with the other original Image Comics titles. Larsen has occasionally produced ancillary mini-series, and sometimes allowed other creators to produce Savage Dragon mini-series as well.According to Larsen, the series is aimed at "older Marvel readers who are about ready to throw in the towel on comics altogether. It's the missing link between Marvel and Vertigo. More mature than Marvel--less pretentious than Vertigo. The kind of comics I want to read. This book is REALLY self-indulgent."
For the initial mini-series and the first 38 issues of the ongoing series, the Dragon was a full officer of the Chicago Police Department, and partnered with Alex Wilde—Dragon and Wilde would later have a casual sexual relationship. He received the name of "Dragon" (due to his fin and green skin) from Nurse Ann Stevens, who would later become a major supporting character.
The Dragon was found in a burning field by Lt. Frank Darling. At the time, Chicago was being terrorized by villainous 'superfreaks' (Larsen's collective term for superpowered characters), namely the criminal gang called the Vicious Circle, led by the mysterious Overlord. Realizing that the Dragon's super-human powers would be a terrific boon to the police in battling the Vicious Circle, Darling proposes to the Dragon that he join the police. At first, the Dragon turns him down and takes a job in Darling's cousin's warehouse. After a number of serious incidents, including the murder of the superhero Mighty Man and the brutal mauling of SuperPatriot, Darling takes drastic action and pays Vicious Circle members to threaten his cousin in a hope that it would prompt Dragon to re-consider his offer. Although this achieves Darling's desired result, the two criminals, Skullface and Hardware, kill Darling's cousin and detonate a bomb in his warehouse. The Dragon joins the police, but Darling is now under the thumb of the Vicious Circle, causing him to steer Dragon away from Vicious Circle activities.
Later, The Dragon gains a girlfriend, Debbie Harris, only to have her shot dead in his apartment by her jealous ex Arnold Dimple. The Dragon falls into deep depression as a result. Dimple would return to plague the Dragon on several occasions as the Fiend, having made a deal with the Devil himself and gained supernatural powers.
Chicago PD Years
As well as being kept away from Vicious Circle activities, The Dragon was loaned out to other police forces across the country to help them in dealing with superpowered criminals. While on loan to the NYPD, he first meets the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and teams up with them again multiple times. Also during his time in New York, there is a large prison break and a number of powerful and dangerous criminals are killed. This is the first time the Chicago PD loses a star witness against Overlord, as Hardware, who was going to give evidence against the criminal is shot dead for being a traitor.Though Darling's captain's 'Freak Force' program failed, the Dragon carries on a lasting relationship with one of its former members: Rapture, a former prostitute with electrical powers, who would later have his child. Meanwhile, Overlord's second-in-command Cyberface has broken away from the Vicious Circle and formed a rival organization. Cyberface later is arrested and attempts to give evidence against Overlord, although like Hardware before him, he is also killed. Ultimately, however, Cyberface is resurrected and later leads the Vicious Circle under the control of Horde, another recurring villain.
Later the Dragon makes his first, disastrous attempt to arrest The Overlord, who easily defeats him and leaves him impaled upon a church spire. The Dragon is believed to have died, but regenerates from his wounds afterwards. This would not be the only time that the Dragon is missing and presumed dead; it becomes both a recurring theme and running joke in the series. During his recovery, Dragon is attacked by a person under mental control of a strange worm. Earlier, the Dragon had encountered others possessed by similar worms (including both the SuperPatriot and a homeless superfreak called the Shrew), and, a few months later, the worm parasite takes control of Dragon. Under the domination of this creature, the Dragon goes on a rampage during which many innocent bystanders are injured and some are killed. He is finally stopped by a vigilante called Mace, and the worms are traced to a villain called Horde. Despite his not being in control of his actions, the rampage results in a massive negative backlash against the Chicago Police Department. The Dragon's biggest naysayer, R. Richard Richards (a thinly veiled parody of J Jonah Jameson), takes this opportunity to attack the Dragon with a robotic weapon dubbed 'Dragon Slayer.' Later, the Dragon encounters the She-Dragon, a young superpowered woman who had modeled herself after him.
Following an attack on the police station and the murder of Cyberface (who would later be resurrected again), Dragon leads a SWAT team to finally 'take down' Overlord. The battle is harsh, and every member of the SWAT Team perishes except for the Dragon who is skinned alive. Even in his weakened state, the Dragon is finally unmasks the Overlord as Mafia boss Antonio Segetti who subsequently falls to his death.
After aiding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a second time, the Dragon narrowly survives another attack by the Fiend, which leaves him nearly crippled after his bones heal incorrectly. To make matters worse, Chicago is in the midst of a brutal gang war that has risen as a result of the Overlord's death. The Vicious Circle, once kept tightly organized by the Overlord, has since separated into several factions who are battling for criminal supremacy. The Dragon is found by a friendly cabbie and Mighty Man, who is able to use his super-strength to re-set the Dragon's bones. After recuperating from this ordeal, the Dragon fights another prison break, this time in a maximum security facility torn open by a newly-resurrected Cyberface. This battle marks the end of the gang war, and Cyberface assumes command of the Vicious Circle.
This victory is followed by difficult times for the Dragon. After a number of crossovers with other Image Comics characters including Wildstar and The Maxx, the Dragon encounters Spawn and ultimately is sent to hell by the Fiend, the demonic soul of Arnold Dimple who can possess living bodies and whose powers are fueled by the capacity for hate of the person whose body he possesses. The Fiend's last victim is Debbie Harris' mother who had no idea that the demon possessing her was the spirit of her daughter's murderer.
While in Hell, one of the series' best remembered scenes occurs, which is a fist-fight between God and the Devil. As God finally overcame the Devil, God warns his defeated opponent: "Don't fuck with God." Dragon is returned to Earth by God just as the amnesiac Dragon attempts to ask God where he came from.
Afterwards, things grow steadily worse for the Dragon. He is unable to save ill fellow officer Phil Dirt with a blood transfusion. Meanwhile, Rapture (pregnant with the Dragon's child) suffers internal damage when the baby kicks—the unborn child having inherited its father's strength—and Rapture enters premature labour. The Dragon is not able to reach the hospital in time, and the baby appears to have died. However, in truth, the infant is taken by the Covenant of the Sword, a shadowy organization bent on world takeover.
After a crossover with Hellboy, the Dragon is caught up in the Mars Attacks Image and Mars Attacks Savage Dragon event, where he is responsible for destroying the Martians' bases on Mars using a Martian Growth Ray. This results in their retreat and, given that Dragon had destroyed most of their home, probably their extinction. While he was gone, the Vicious Circle has taken control of the city. Returning home to a devastated Chicago, Dragon is captured and publicly crucified by the Circle. The Dragon survives and defeats most of the villains, but the Dragon's new superior, Captain Mendoza, suspends him for having been missing for so long. During his suspension the Dragon spends a few months as a bounty hunter and helps rebuild the city after the Martian invasion.
Behind the scenes during this period, Rob Liefeld departed from Image Comics. The Mars Attacks Image event and the Shattered Image crossover were used as a way to phase out characters created by Rob Liefeld from the collective 'Image Universe,' including Youngblood. In the pages of the Savage Dragon, Larsen has the Dragon be approached by the United States government to form a superhuman task-force to replace Youngblood. After negotiations, the team is dubbed the Special Operations Strikeforce, or S.O.S. This team includes much of the super-powered supporting cast of the book, including Jennifer Murphy, a super-strong, invulnerable single mother first introduced in the 'Sex And Violence' mini-series. Despite being the founding member of the team, the Dragon spends little time as a member.Later on a dying parallel Earth, a murderous despot named Darklord begins to swap parts of his earth with parts from the Dragon's. The Dragon leads a team of S.O.S members, including Jennifer Murphy and his former girlfriend Rapture, to this world to stop the Darklord. The confrontation does not go well. Rapture is killed by Darklord, and the Dragon and Jennifer are separated from the rest of the team. While the remaining members of S.O.S. manage to stop the transfer and escape back to their own Earth, the Dragon and Jennifer are forced to find their own way off of the dying planet. Finally, they do just that, using a space-ship from Lake Michigan. While they make their escape, Dragon attempts to find this Earth's Rapture, only to find that world's Debbie Harris instead.
The threesome are lost in space for some months, and Dragon is once again presumed dead, eventually landing on Godworld, where Debbie dies but is revived as an angel. Dragon and Jennifer are caught between a battle between Thor and Hercules, and then sent back to Earth by All-God; Debbie does not return with them. Following this, Dragon fights a Dr. Doom-like armored dictator before returning to Chicago on leave and striking up a casual sex relationship with his former partner Alex Wilde.
With giant-sized issue #50, many of the series sub-plots are resolved, and in a climatic battle between most of the series cast, Dragon is killed by the mystic Abner Cadaver; however the wizard is murdered mid-way through this by William Jonson, and The Dragon is bonded with him.
William Jonson & The New Overlord
The series changed its title to 'Savage She-Dragon' for five issues, featuring her as the main character during an attack by The God Squad to retrieve the various super-freaks that were descendants of gods, leading to the S.O.S. returning to Godworld and its accidental destruction by S.O.S. member and former Deadly Duo member Kid Avenger. During this time, William Jonson realises he and the Dragon are sharing bodies, and shortly thereafter Dragon finds he has the ability to take over Jonson’s body so they become a masked super-hero. While he is helping She-Dragon, Jonson’s fiancé, Rita Medermade, is kidnapped by Jonson's brother Ralph and they both encounter Overlord, or at least someone in his armor. While rescuing her, Jonson is shot and Ralph is destroyed by the entity in the Overlord armor., and Dragon is given full possession of his body.
The wizard, Abner Cadaver, returns, made up of parts of dead God Squad characters, Darklord, and Dragon's arm, and engages in battle with Fon~Ti, the mystical being who was once Horde. After Fon~Ti’s victory, he separates Dragon from Jonson, and returns Dragon to his normal body. Having admitted their love, Jennifer and Dragon begin to date, and then live together, while they fight a number of one-off enemies. After a fight with Impostor, posing as Rapture, Dragon proposes to Jennifer, and their wedding follows in the next issue, where Jennifer is apparently killed by the New Overlord—in truth she was replaced with Impostor beforehand by the Covenant of the Sword. Though he had only been semi-active before, Dragon officially resigns from the S.O.S. and became Jennifer’s daughter Angel’s legal guardian. In the following issue, the Overlord sub-plot is tied up after Dragon defeats his new team, including the vigilante Mace. Dragon kills Overlord, and he is revealed as low-grade support cast character, Vic Nixon, who had worn the armor to spy on Rita; the armor then corrupted him. After this, the Overlord armor is destroyed.
Single parent and Damian Darklord
Following the resolution of the new Overlord plot, the series spent most of its issues wrapping up all the sub-plots still left, in order for the eventual revamp in issue 75, with Dragon as a single parent looking after Angel and gradually losing a custody battle for her because of his dangerous lifestyle.
Dragon dates a television producer named Marcy Howard, resumes his casual affair with Alex Wilde, and dates Ann Stevens before she is murdered, while a number of super-powered children and adults are kidnapped by the Covenant of the Sword.
After losing custody of Angel, and Ann’s murder, Dragon and Mighty Man (now former Freak Force member Dart) begin searching for the missing SuperPatriot. This leads them to the Covenant of the Sword, which have in its possession SuperPatriot, Jennifer, and Dragon’s child. Dragon and Mighty Man are captured, but eventually rescued in a large battle similar to the one in issue 50 where a number of characters are killed.
It was revealed thus: the Covenant were formed by Damian Darklord, a time traveler who was the enemy of Super-Tough, the vigilante, Mace’s old mentor’s enemy. This man became Darklord and started life as Damian, the son of Liberty, SuperPatriot’s daughter who was raped during the Mars Attacks event. Damian also built and detonated the ‘Nega Bomb’ made up of super-powered individuals that de-powered every non-natural ‘freak’ in the world. Dragon then kills him.
This Savage WorldWith issue 76, the series changes into a Jack Kirby-inspired post-apocalyptic/dystopian story with the Dragon stuck in a new reality he created by killing the infant Damian Darklord, and thus prevented him going back in time, and with most of the mutated and monstrous populace of this world trying to kill him. Dragon finds his house to be a crater, and believes Jennifer and Angel are dead. Dragon has encounters with Wildstar and Madman and finds out that during his time possessed, without Mace to stop him, he went on a much longer rampage, killing Alex Wilde. Dragon also discovers that Cyberface is now President of America, and has SuperPatriot under his control. He organises a group of old enemies and allies to defeat him, and after a bloody two-issue long battle, they succeed. After fulfilling a commitment to Rex Dexter—one of those who helped him overthrow Cyberface—by saving his daughter, Dragon returns a hero, and finds his way back to Chicago and is re-united with Jennifer and Angel, who had in fact survived.
Dragon then finds his old world had survived as well as the Savage World, only to find his counterpart from Darkworld, this Dragon, was defeated, but Dragon’s old Earth was destroyed by a world-devouring Galactus-like being named Universo despite the best efforts of Dragon and his son, Malcolm, who are left floating in space after its destruction. Dragon is able to save Alex Wilde from that world. After this, Dragon marries Jennifer and lives with her, Angel, and Angel’s new ‘pet’, Mr Glum, who is secretly plotting to kill Dragon.
To coincide with the 2004 Presidential elections, Larsen created a corrupt politician Ronald Winston Urass, who engineers a successful write-in campaign to elect the Dragon President Of The United States. However, once his criminal intents and relationship to Doctor Doom-like criminal, Dread Knight, are exposed, the Supreme Court throws out these votes, leading a vengeful Urass to attack The Dragon using the armour of his father, Dread Knight, who was an old foe of SuperPatriot's.
Behind the scenes, Erik Larsen was made publisher of Image Comics, causing a near year-long publishing gap between issues 121 and 122 of the series. The title resumed regular publication in January 2006 with the first story involving a vengeful scientist from Iraq sending an almost unstoppable robot to kill the President.
Recently, Mr. Glum's plans for world domination were realised using the power of the 'God Gun' (a super-powerful weapon able to grant three wishes to its user). Glum fired the gun and wished that 'everyone on this stupid earth' would do exactly what he said, then asserted his control of the planet while the Dragon is incapacitated in hospital, having lost his rapid healing abilities, then being caught in an explosion. Glum was, at the time, on the run with Dragon's step-daughter Angel after he caused her to grow to over 100-feet tall and she accidentally destroyed her house, killed Rex Dexter, and crippled her mother, Jennifer Murphy. The two become partners, and Angel adopts a murderous, merciless personality, while Glum set the people of earth to work with the impossible task of making the planet look like his face (as his old world did).
Dragon is revived with his healing abilities restored and is able to defy Glum’s control because of a loop-hole in his wish that means he cannot control extra-terrestrials, but he is unable to get close enough to Glum because of the various robots and villains Glum has under his control. However, the intervention of a number of characters from the comic series Wanted who had come to steal the God Gun for their own uses allow Dragon to destroy the weapon, negating Glum's wish.
During the story, Vanguard's space ship is destroyed, freeing Galactus-like Universo, who was imprisoned on it, and began to suck the energy from the Earth once more until it and it's herald were killed by Solar Man, a Superman like hero who became murderous and was wished out of existence using the God Gun, a wish that has now been undone since Dragon destroyed the weapon. She-Dragon also returned from Dimension X with the Angel from the Dragon's original world of origin after rescuing her, and are being pursued by the Darkworld Dragon and a new villainess Battleaxe.
Savage Dragon's origin was finally revealed on November 30, 2005 with the release of the "Image Comics Hardcover" collection. The collection featured the four remaining Image founders (Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino) returning to the characters they first created for the company. Each founder wrote and illustrated a full length story featuring their characters.
Larsen's story featured Savage Dragon's origin. It turns out that Dragon used to be an evil tyrant named Emperor Kurr who led a nomadic race of aliens that live in a starship. They have spent thousands of years searching for a suitable new homeworld, and Kurr had chosen Earth. He wished to go against his people's peaceful ways and slaughter all humans. Two scientists named Rech and Weiko conspire against Kurr, giving him brain damage that erases his memory, and implanting his head with five days' worth of satellite television broadcasts from Earth. Kurr was then sent to Earth to live, while his race moved on to search for a new planet elsewhere.
- The Savage Dragon #1-3
- Savage Dragon: Archives #1-4
- Savage Dragon: Blood & Guts #1-3
- Savage Dragon: Red Horizon #1-3
- Savage Dragon: Sex & Violence #1-2
- The Dragon #1-5 (reprints the original Savage Dragon mini-series with supplemental material from Image Comics #0; also, story material was re-arranged to appear in chronological order)
- Mars Attacks the Savage Dragon #1-4
- Savage Dragon: God War #1-4
- Savage Dragon/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Savage Dragon
- Savage Dragon vs. Megaton Man
- Savage Dragon/Marshal Law #1-2
- Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck
- Savage Dragon/Superman: Chicago
- Superman/Savage Dragon: Metropolis
- Savage Dragon Vol. 1: Baptism of Fire (collects #1-3 of the original Savage Dragon mini-series, plus the Savage Dragon story from Image Comics #0, with pages rearranged to appear in chronological order)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 2: A Force To Be Reckoned With (collects #1-6)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 3: The Fallen (collects #7-11)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 4: Possessed (collects #12-16 and WildC.A.T.s #14)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 5: Revenge (collects #17-21)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 6: Gang War (collects #22-26)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 7: A Talk With God (collects #27-33)
- Savage Dragon/Hellboy (collects #34-35)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 8: Terminated (collects #34-40, #1/2)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 9: Worlds At War (collects #41-46)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 10: Endgame (collects #47-52)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 11: Resurrection (collects #53-58)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 12: Last Rites - cancelled (would have collected #59-63)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 13: Desperate Times -cancelled (would have collected #64-69)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 14: End of the World -cancelled (would have collected #70-75)
- Savage Dragon Vol. 15: This Savage World (collects #76-81)
- Savage Dragon: Team-Ups (collects Vanguard #3-4, Velocity #2, Freak Force #10, Savage Dragon #13A, 25, and 30)
- Savage Dragon: Blood & Guts (collects the 3-issue Blood & Guts mini-series)
Powers and Abilities
- SavageDragon.com - Official site
- ImageComics.com - Image Comics Official site
- Dragonfan.com - A fan site that keeps Savage Dragon enthusiasts informed on Erik Larsen/Savage Dragon-related news.
- No trivia.
Appearances in Other Media
- The Erik Larsen CD-Rom Comic Book Anthology (1995, Think Multimedia Entertainment) collected the Savage Dragon Mini-Series (1-3) Savage Dragon 1-10, Freak Force 1-4, Vanguard 1-6, SuperPatriot 1-4, and the Savage Dragon Vs. Savage Megaton Man Special plus Graphic Fantasy 1 & 2 and Megaton 3 (Early independent comics featuring The Dragon)
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Links and References