Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Superman/Savage Dragon: ChicagoScheduled to arrive in stores: April 3, 2002
Cover date: June 2002
Writer: Erik Larson
Penciller: Erik Larson
Inker: Al Gordon
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (email@example.com)
Reviewer's note: This occurs, it would seem, during the very late eighties in current continuity. Perhaps early nineties.
At Stryker's Island prison, Superman responds to a prison breakout involving several of his more fearsome foes: Psi-Phon, Parasite, and Klaash. Superman gives his best effort to contain them all, but he is knocked unconscious by a hard blow while bringing down a wall.
In Chicago, Savage Dragon attempts to subdue some villains trying to steal something with the help of the police force. Among them are the escaped Parasite, the Silver Banshee, Metallo, Bizarro and Brainiac. Savage Dragon threatens them to surrender or else, and Metallo responds with, "Bah! If bluster and bravado were the determining factors, then that might very well be true. Such is not the case." And with that, he knocks Savage Dragon through the wall. Parasite hammers down a fist and knocks him out.
At the Planet, Perry bursts in and informs the team that legions of Superman's villains have been joining the Vicious Circle, Chicago's notorious crime organization. Lois leaves to catch a plane, putting off a dinner with Clark until later. Jimmy asks to go, but Perry orders him to get coffee. Jimmy calls him "chief", and Perry tells him not to. Clark is ordered to investigate Luthor's potential involvement in the Overlord armor. Overlord rules the Vicious circle.
In Chicago, Dragon's partners wax over how much they're excited to be seeing Superman. Dragon pouts.
At the press conference the next day, Superman meets Dragon's partners and asks questions from the crowd. Lois asks why the villains are there. Superman doesn't know. A man in the crowd asks how long Superman will stay. As long as it takes. Savage Dragon asks him why he wears his underwear on the outside. No answer.
At the the Vicious Circle's hideout, Parasite is becoming violent. Khan dispatches him and confers with Dataman about the status of the plans of the Siphon device.
Luthor waxes about the Overlord's armor, and how it might save him, as he is dying of Kryptonite radiation poisoning. He goes over how Overlord used the armor to take control of the gangs of Chicago. As he works on the armor, a cadre of villains burst in. They try to take the armor, but it flies off, with Luthor nowhere in sight. They wonder what happened.
In Chicago, Savage Dragon rips into Superman for sitting on his cape while the armor is stolen. Lois confronts him outside and asks him why he has some beef with Superman. He says that he's upset that he just came to town and is treated like a savior when he is actually a hindrance. Lois points out their things in common, and points out that they are both more similar than they might seem.
Openface and Octopus have called the armor, and Luthor arrives in it, demanding to be taken to the leader. They both postulate that Cyberface will not like that.
Patroling Chicago, Superman and Savage Dragon are at odds. Savage Dragon doesn't see the need of patrolling with X-Ray vision, and he also thinks that Superman will just let the city turn into a ball of flame. Superman objects, but Savage Dragon refuses to hear it.
Khan uses the compounds stolen by his villains to siphon power from the Parasite without Parasite siphoning it back. Luthor bursts in, and tells Khan that he knows he is dying, and demands that the Vicious Circle swear allegiance to him in order to save Khan.
Someone who looks like a cross between a bird and a broom attacks the armor, but Luthor knocks him away like a gnat.
Savage Dragon continues to badger Superman. Superman wonders why the villains are all working together, which they never do, and in Chicago, no less. Now Savage Dragon and Superman are at the station doing nothing. This frustrates Superman, and he thanks Savage Dragon and leaves. Dragon asks him to pick up a few shirts on the way out.
Savage Dragon wonders if he overdid it to Lois Lane. Superman, after leaving for fifteen minutes, is attacked by Luthor in the Overlord armor. Bizarro and Parasite lurk in the background.
Lois is worried about Superman. Dragon's partner asks her about it while Dragon rushes in to help, but Lois says that she is engaged to another man. Superman is a thing of the past.
Bizarro and Brainiac are ripped apart, and shown to be robots.
The other villains work Savage Dragon and Superman down, and knock them out. Overmind steps out and points out that it is over.
Lois worries, but Frank reassures her. An officer tells them that Alex Wilde has followed the gang down underground.
Superman and Savage Dragon are hooked to a machine that is giving energy to Cyberface...Khan. Wilde jumps in, shoots the equipment, and Savage Dragon and Superman start tearing the group apart again.
Superman, after Savage Dragon disables the Overlord armor with bullets, rips the mask off to reveal Lex Luthor. Luthor doesn't know where he is or what he's done. Savage Dragon cracks a joke at the Parasite, then knocks him out.
Later, they argue over who won or lost, and Lois treats them to dinner in order to write a story about it.
A note before Savage Dragon fans flame me: I have never read a Savage Dragon comic. This is my first. I remain purposefully ignorant, because if I were to want to know what kind of enjoyment I would get out of this issue as a Superman fan, I would look for a writer who did not know Dragon and go from there. For the sake of my readers, I hope you would do the same. If not, write me, we'll talk about it...Neal.
Story - 3: Definite kudos for taking this story back a notch and showing Superman of about ten years ago with accuracy. I'm a continuity geek, and I didn't see many prominent problems with the timing or the accuracy. I can't speak for the Dragon, obviously, but I'm betting given the Erik Larson factor, things were on. The story is genuinely well crafted in that it fits into the space between continuities without making any lasting changes and yet causing some definite ties and events.
I do have my multiple complaints, however.
The dialogue is cheesy in every case except Dragon's. Creator favoritism. Very evident. Savage Dragon is a whiny so-and-so. I wouldn't, if this is typically of the way he treats situations and dangers, call him any kind of hero at all. Sure, he's duking it out with bad guys here, and he's got Spidey's banter, but hating Superman just because he's corn-fed, and using that to assume he won't get the job done, is silly. Sitting on your hams when there are things to be done isn't very heroic either. Dragon seems immature, not very selfless, selfish, and undefined. I do not like Savage Dragon, given his portrayal in this comic. Maybe he's better elsewhere. I leave that to the fans. This book has not convinced me to pick up his stuff. Parasite is one minute a subdued creature, the next working for the Vicious circle. This is not only odd, but it is blatantly pointed out in the issue. Why are these people working together? It is never explained.
If Superman faces unbeatable odds, he pulls back and strategizes. He doesn't fight until he's knocked out. Maybe Dragon does. Not Superman. Even at this point in continuity. It's not year one. It's about year three.
Parasite is dumb, but not dumb enough to let Dragon tease him and then knock him out.
Other than that stuff, it was a pretty average read. Nothing stood out, nothing was amazingly bad. To put a Cranky Critic turn on things, 48 page super-specials will run you about six dollars. If I had my way, I would have paid two bucks for this. Take off the glossy cover, sell it cheaper, and I would have bought it on my own.
Art - 2: Good at points, but mostly very blocky, not very inventive, and so full of itself in terms of epic action that it doesn't go far towards impressing me. There are unnecessary splashes on pages 6, 19, 24, 34, 35, and the ones on 18 and 1 are iffy as well. 1 introduces the piece, but it's still not very dynamic. 18 is just extrapolation. Why does it need a full page? It's introducing Luthor, sure. But we all know who Luthor is. He doesn't need a page.
Cover Art - 4: The best part of this issue. Alex Ross is Alex Ross is Alex Ross, and while the events on the cover don't happen in the issue (no comets, no flaming city, etc.), thus minus one, the caricatures of these heroes are reinvented and still themselves, as Alex tends to apply to all of his pieces. I am a fan. I may be biased. But how could I not be? Maybe I'm willing to forgive more because of his rep. If I took the Alex Ross out of my mind, I might say three for the cover issues. So say 3.5.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2002Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Joker: Last Laugh #6
-  Superman #176
-  Adventures of Superman #598
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #120
-  Action Comics #785
- Superman Adventures #63
- JLA #60
- Justice League Adventures #1
- JLA/Haven: Arrival
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #1
- JLA: Gatekeeper #2
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #4
- Superman #177
- Adventures of Superman #599
- Superman: The Man of Steel #121
- Action Comics #786
- Superman Adventures #64
- JLA #61
- Justice League Adventures #2
- Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jerry Ordway Creating the JLA
- JLA: Gatekeeper #3
- JLA: Incarnations #7
- Adventures of Superman #600
- Superman #178
- Superman: The Man of Steel #122
- Action Comics #787
- Superman Adventures #65
- JLA #62
- Justice League Adventures #3
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #2
- Superman #179
- Adventures of Superman #601
- Superman: The Man of Steel #123
- Action Comics #788
- Superman Adventures #66 [Final Issue]
- JLA #63
- Justice League Adventures #4
- JLA: Shogun of Steel
- Superman #180
- Adventures of Superman #602
- Superman: The Man of Steel #124
- Action Comics #789
- JLA #64
- Justice League Adventures #5
- Superman #181
- Adventures of Superman #603
- Superman: The Man of Steel #125
- Action Comics #790
- JLA #65
- Superman/Savage Dragon: Chicago
- Justice League Adventures #6
- Superman #182
- Adventures of Superman #604
- Superman: The Man of Steel #126
- Action Comics #791
- JLA #66
- DC1st: Superman/Lobo #1
- DC1st: Flash/Superman #1
- Justice League Adventures #7
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #1
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #3
- Superman #183
- Adventures of Superman #605
- Superman: The Man of Steel #127
- Action Comics #792
- JLA #67
- Justice League Adventures #8
- JLA: Destiny #1
- Superman #184
- Adventures of Superman #606
- Superman: The Man of Steel #128
- Action Comics #793
- JLA #68
- Justice League Adventures #9
- JLA: Destiny #2
- Superman #185
- Adventures of Superman #607
- Superman: The Man of Steel #129
- Action Comics #794
- JLA #69
- JLA #70
- Justice League Adventures #10
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #2
- JLA: Destiny #3
- JLA: The Island of Dr Moreau
- Superman #186
- Adventures of Superman #608
- Superman: The Man of Steel #130
- Action Comics #795
- JLA #71
- JLA #72
- Justice League Adventures #11
- JLA: Destiny #4
- Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta
- JLA/Haven: Anathema
- Superman #187
- Adventures of Superman #609
- Superman: The Man of Steel #131
- Action Comics #796
- JLA #73
- JLA #74
- Justice League Adventures #12
- Smallville: The Comic
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #3
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2002.