Hats off to the creative team behind SAVAGE (published by Valiant Comics.) B. Clay Moore (writer,) spins a yarn here that really hits home for Edgar Rice Burroughs fans. Dismissing SAVAGE as just another Tarzan pastiche would be a crime, because dinosaurs. You’ll see.
Moore works his writing magic here, scoring high marks for character depth, flashbacks, pace of the story, and a primal cliffhanger ending to take your breath away. The tale feels familiar in more ways than one (lulling readers into a false sense of security, perhaps?) Readers will catch a Robinson Crusoe vibe, a Tarzan vibe, a celebrity-worship tabloid vibe, and a lost world vibe. The underlying theme here is survival. SAVAGE just isn’t likely to end well for all of its protagonist characters, so have a care when choosing which characters to root for.
Lewis Larosa and Clayton Henry (illustrators,) join forces to brew an intoxicating art elixir that goes down smooth. Greater than the sum of its parts, we see Lewis Larosa illustrating the panels set in present day, whilst Clayton Henry brings the flashback sequence to life with both aplomb and finesse. Inside front, inside rear, and outer back covers done in a tabloid fashion is a nice touch too, succeeding in giving even more depth to the characters. Noteworthy panels include Kevin Sauvage Jr extending his right arm into a dinosaur’s mouth, Langdon’s last stand, the moonlit beach, and the first appearance of the KLUNKing boat. Oh…that KLUNKing boat…just you wait.
From a paneling standpoint, SAVAGE takes plenty of chances. The adrenaline pumps steadily, even during the tale’s quieter moments, thanks partly to an absence of pattern in the paneling from one page to the next. Thought-provoking storytelling is happening here, devoted to both the aesthetic and the form.
Brian Reber (colorist,) has a keen eye for light, shadow, color, and tone, as evidenced by the vibrant color shades of the plant life, the rich textures of the overcast skies above, the varying blue hues of the shallower waters when the KLUNKing boat first appears, and the flesh tones upon the jutting right arm Kevin Sauvage sees whilst first looking inside the KLUNKing boat. Has the KLUNKing boat won you over yet?
“Clayton and colorist Brian Reber did a great job with the entire boat sequence. Kevin’s revulsion at the scene is palpable, but who can blame him?” writes B. Clay Moore, in an 8-page writer’s commentary, that’s also included in SAVAGE #1 as a bonus for the reader, lovingly-rendered by graphic designer Dylan Todd, designed in an exemplary triple-column format (layouts, inks, and colors.)
Dave Lanphear (letterer,) does a tremendous job, as always, making damn sure that every KRA-KOW, FWUMP, BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP, WHAHHHH, and FWOOOM gives the plane ride all the emphasis that sound effects (of this caliber) so richly deserve. After all, what’s a tale of epic proportions without epic sound effects?
Dialogue dandy: “An adventure. One way to look at it, I suppose. Doubt I’ll run into much more than spiders…” — Kevin Sauvage
Runner-up: “We’re going to…Brace for impact!” — Langdon
Watch for SAVAGE #2 coming from Valiant Comics this month.