Panels From Beyond the Grave #21

SAVAGE DRAGON: MARTIAN SPY (1 of 4, December 1996)

It was only a matter of time before I reviewed a Savage Dragon comic. After all, I use the big lug's head as a rating system for this very column. But why him? I mean, why not use a more popular icon to appraise comic books? When most people think of horror comics, The Cryptkeeper is the omphalic straw boss that springs to mind. And I concede that he might be the go-to graven image for the uninitiated, but if you're visiting this website, you're probably initiated. That's why I chose an obscure character. In addition to being obscure, Savage Dragon happens to be a badass. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure why he's typically one of the last superheroes to be picked for tetherball and other reindeer games.

Huh? Sorry for the cabalistic, recondite analogy. I'm trying to get to the bottom of a brain-garbling mystery...why the hell is Savage Dragon a third-tier swashbuckler? I get that he wasn't the first green monster on the block, but dude, he's an extraterrestrial mutant cop with amnesia. Jump on the fucking bandwagon already! Here, he stars in an ingenious crossover. That's no hyperbole. In my eyes, the concept of this mini-series is brilliant, and I'm shocked that it took a mediocre Tim Burton flick to galvanize the inter-promotional intercourse that led to its fruition. Okay, "brilliant" is stretching it a bit, but this mash-up seems so obvious.

We begin with a prefatory overture that introduces us to the stertorous saucer pilots of Mars Attacks! fame. The short of it is that they invade Earth. The long of it is convoluted. How convoluted? Certain call-outs are accompanied by asterisks. These asterisks correspond with a title at the bottom of the page. These titles belong to comic books that you need to read in order to understand what the fuck is going on in this mini-series. Bummer. That's a common drawback to crossovers, but it was especially frustrating with Savage Dragon: Martian Spy. This should be a simple story. It's a colossal officer versus an army of zany aliens. Insert obscene violence, maybe toss in a subplot and voila!

To writer Dwight Jon Zimmerman's credit, there is an intriguing angle involving Savage Dragon's true identity. Is he a Martian??? I know the answer to that question, but for what it's worth, I want to see how this plot thread plays out (even if I don't comprehend all of it). The artwork is apocalyptic. Action sequences are packed with eye candy. I can't compare it to the original set of Topps trading cards, although I suspect that Savage Dragon: Martian Spy surpasses the vintage material in terms of detail. This is an easy recommendation. It will appeal to any geek who digs UFO madness, superhero schlock and...y'know, the characters featured on the cover. It's a quick read, so don't expect a valorous graphic novel.

It's a shame about the fragmentary storytelling. Now would be an ideal time to shoehorn a Tim Burton joke into this salutation.

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