Book Three - Savage #3 Review
Writer: B. Clay Moore
Artists: Clayton Henry and Lewis Larosa
Colorists: Brian Reber and Andrew Dalhouse
A new series from Valiant Comics, one of my favorite publishers, Savage apparently tells the tale of a character soon to emerge into the greater, integrated, Valiant comics universe. Until that happens, it feels like there is not a lot to grip onto here. So I patiently read this issue, waiting to see if I would gain deep insights into a character that I might soon see lined-up alongside (or on the opposite side?) of the likes of Ninjak, the Eternal Warrior, BloodShot, Faith, Archer and Armstrong or X-O Manowar. I liked bits of what I saw, but I was not entirely spellbound throughout the read.
Book Three picks up with Savage catching up with a man upon which he seeks to enact vengeance. He saves the guy, initially, from a pack of Velociraptors. After that scene, the book snaps back and forth between flashback vignettes where we are exposed to Savage's relationship with his mother, and the beginning of the events that have unfolded to make him the man-boy that he is, or at least will be, today.
The artwork in this issue is likely the thing that requires the most discussion. It is not unusual for there to be problems when two artists work on one comic. But I cannot say that is an issue here. As best as I can tell, Henry did the flashbacks, and Larosa did the present day, but it may have been flipped. That made perfect sense and there was not a lot of disruption in the cuts between one style to the next. That's not to say that I did not have some problems with my perspective on the art, however; it was just an issue with one of the two art styles on display.
In Larosa's (or whomever did the present day) art, Savage is older than he is in the flashbacks, but it feels inconsistent in the presentation of just how much older he is supposed to be. In particular, when the camera is pulled back, Savage appears to be teenager sized. But when the camera pulls in, he looks to be about maybe eight to ten. Now, the art is exquisite when it is pulled in on the pre-teen's face. The texture and detail of the scarring is just phenomenal. But when the camera is away, he appears larger, older, and not as scarred. There is also a minor blip in fight choreography where I just cannot tell what the heck he is doing in one panel where he says "I'll take that", knifes a Velociraptor, but then I can't tell that he comes away with anything that he is "taking" from the beast. I cannot really find any fault with the flashback art, on the other hand. It is simpler, cleaner, a bit more cartoony, and admittedly probably takes fewer risks. But it doesn't make me do a double-take or anything like I did with the present day panels.
Moore's story feels a bit like Crossed. But, like, the good parts. It's a certain ambiance of fear; that environmental sheen that informs you that the good guys are isolated, fewer in number, and at constant risk of an ultra-violent demise. In the present day arc, I feel every bit of the depth of Savage's hatred for his prey. But I did not feel like that was stitched as tightly to the flashbacks as I would have liked. Apparently, it is just Savage and his mother who wound up in this Land of the Lost scenario. So the kid is given an ample reason to be cranky. But in terms of making you feel entirely twisted inside, I feel like I just needed one or two more panels of build-up to make me really despise the primary villain. The scene where the major initiation of the blood feud goes down feels a bit too staccato. Overall, it's good, but feels like a couple more gut punches could have been landed to make you really want that guy to get his come uppin's.
I want to make sure I emphasize that there are some passages that are just beautiful in the present day arc art. I mean, downright Eisner quality. It's just that there are some inconsistencies in proportionality that threw me off, to the point where I focused on that more than the story and the quality of the other art in the book. I'm not planning on sticking with this one, although I will keep an eye out on it to see where it goes. It's not clear to me whether this is an ongoing or a limited series, but I am very curious to see Savage added to the Valiant universe dynamic. It's a warm start. I would just like to see a few more ringers landed before I am ready to score it amongst the top tier books being put out today.
Score: 7.0 / 10.0
Valiant takes some risks in doing a stranded-on-an-island adventure comic. There's tons of potential here, but issue #3 just does not tie it together as well as it could have. It's a fresh venue, and that is needed on the comics landscape today. A bit more consistency in some of the artwork styling and this series will be nailing it. As it is, Issue #3 comes in just shy of taking the ribbon.