Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup.
The Rift (Red 5 Comics)
(W) Don Handfield and Richard Piers Rayner (A) Leno Carvalho
The Rift sees Don Handfield and actor Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) create the first comic from their production company, The Combine. It is the story of a single mom and her son who witness a plane crash and rescue a pilot. The pilot in question claims to have been flying over Burma, shooting Japanese planes out of the air just moments before crashing.
Handfield and co-writer Richard Piers Layner, mostly known for pencil work in Constantine: Hellblazer, wrote a potentially fruitful piece. Sticking to the theme of time travel with a serious tone, the pilot is not the protagonist of this issue. As realistic as a text about time travel could be, there is a feel of genuineness to the story. The point of view is written from the people of present day, who find the time traveler crazy, take him seriously, or are absolutely baffled.
With a great premise, this comic would have felt more exciting if the description didn’t basically summarize the issue. Before reading, I already knew about the main characters’ conflicts and the government’s involvement. By the time I got to the end, there were no surprises. Even with a few details to flesh out our characters, it was mostly predictable based on what was already given. With that being said, the description is a good look into the series as a whole. This issue also provided some important plot devices to further develop the characters and present a little suspense. Leno Carvalho (God of War #3 and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special #1) gives fantastic detail and shadow, as well as beautiful landscape imagery. The luminosity he gives the rift once readers finally witness it has a cinematic feel that delivers a bit of dread for the scenes to come. The stage is set, now it’s time to watch it unfold.
— Kristopher Grey
Savage Dragon #219 (Image Comics)
(W/A) Erik Larsen, (C) Nikos Koutsis
Image Comics launched back in 1992, and now only two titles from that original slate of titles remain in publication – Spawn and Savage Dragon. But while Todd McFarlane has allowed other writers and artists to work on his creation, Savage Dragon has been continuously written and illustrated by Erik Larsen. Progressing in real-time, Savage Dragon has seen the series’ titular character age and have a family. With the series real-time progressing, Larsen has also been able to provide his own commentary on the world, which is exactly what he does in Savage Dragon #218.
Like the world we now inhabit, Savage Dragon is full of social and political unrest, with even the basic idea of “truth” called into question. With former world-dictator Mr. Glum on trial for his crimes against humanity, he uses the same tactics of clouding facts with misperceptions that played out during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, Malcolm – the current Savage Dragon – is forced not only to act as witness in the case but deal with superfreaks looking to take advantage of large crowds gathered for government protests. Unfortunately, these are only surface-level acknowledgements, as Larsen forfeits the opportunity to say something truly worthwhile about our world.
Compared to his early Image work, Larsen has evolved as an artist to keep up with modern aesthetics. His layouts and renderings lack the exaggerated and “xtreme” style of the 1990s in favor of a cleaner look. That is not to say the book has a complete real-world feel – Mr. Glum himself is an over-the-top absurdity, and the art rightfully reflects that where necessary. It’s at testament to Larsen’s ability to adapt that Savage Dragon can be as enjoyable to today’s readership as it was over 20 years ago.
I truthfully did not know what to expect when I picked up Savage Dragon #219. Though it is undoubtedly a flawed comic, it is also a remarkably impressive and relevant for the times we now live in. Both the series and its creator has seen a maturity, and those that worry reading this book is akin to stepping back 20 years will be thankful to be proven wrong.
— Daniel Gehen