Issue # 0
Origin Savage Dragon’s origin was finally revealed on November 30, 2005 with the release of the Image Comics 10th Anniversary hardcover book. The collection featured the four remaining Image founders (Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane,Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino) returning to the characters they first created for the company. Each founder wrote and illustrated a full-length story. The origin was later reprinted in a one-shot Savage Dragon comic book numbered issue 0 .
Larsen’s story featured Savage Dragon’s origin. The Dragon used to be an evil tyrant named Emperor Kurr who led a nomadic race of aliens that live in a starship. They spent thousands of years searching for a suitable new homeworld and Kurr had chosen Earth. He wished to go against his people’s peaceful ways and slaughter all humans. Two scientists named Rech and Weiko conspired against Kurr, giving him brain damage that erased his memory, and implanted his head with five days’ worth of satellite television broadcasts from Earth. Kurr was then sent to live on Earth, while his race moved on to search for a new planet elsewhere.
Rookie Cop (Issues #1-3) The Dragon was found in a burning field by Lt. Frank Darling. At the time, Chicago was being terrorized by villainous “superfreaks” (Larsen’s collective term for superpowered characters), namely the criminal gang called the Vicious Circle, led by the mysterious Overlord. Realizing that the Dragon’s superhuman powers would be a terrific boon to the police in battling the Vicious Circle, Darling asks the Dragon to join the police. At first, the Dragon refuses and takes a job in the warehouse of Darling’s cousin. After a number of serious incidents, including the murder of the superhero Mighty Man and the brutal mauling of SuperPatriot, Darling takes drastic action. He pays Vicious Circle members to threaten his cousin in the hope that it will prompt Dragon to re-consider his offer. Although this achieves Darling’s desired result, the two criminals, Skullface and Hardware, kill Darling’s cousin and detonate a bomb in his warehouse. The Dragon joins the police, but Darling is now under the thumb of the Vicious Circle, causing him to steer the Dragon away from Vicious Circle activities.
Later, the Dragon gains a girlfriend, Debbie Harris, only to see her shot dead in his apartment by her jealous ex-boyfriend Arnold Dimple. The Dragon falls into a deep depression as a result. Dimple returns to plague the Dragon on several occasions as the Fiend, who makes a deal with the Devil to gain supernatural powers.
As well as being kept away from Vicious Circle activities, the Dragon was loaned out to other police forces across the country to help them in dealing with superpowered criminals. While on loan to the NYPD, he first met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who he assisted multiple times in later comics. Also during his time in New York, a large prison break occurred and a number of powerful and dangerous criminals were killed. This is the first time the Chicago PD lost a star witness against Overlord; Hardware, who intended to give evidence against the criminal, was shot dead.
Though Captain Darling’s Freak Force program failed, the Dragon carried on a lasting relationship with one of its former members: Rapture, a former prostitute with electrical powers, who would later have his child. Meanwhile, Overlord’s second-in-command Cyberface broke away from the Vicious Circle to form a rival organization. Cyberface was later arrested but, like Hardware before him, he was killed before he was able to testify. Ultimately Cyberface was resurrected and later led the Vicious Circle under the control of Horde, another recurring villain.
Later, the Dragon made his first attempt to arrest the Overlord, who easily defeated him and left him impaled upon a church spire. The Dragon was believed to be dead but regenerated from his wounds afterwards. This is not the only time the Dragon was missing and presumed dead; it becomes both a recurring theme and running joke in the series. During his recovery, Dragon was attacked by a person under the mental control of a strange worm. Under the domination of this creature, the Dragon went on a rampage during which many innocent bystanders are injured or killed. He was finally stopped by the vigilante Mace, and the worms were traced to Horde. The rampage resulted in a massive negative backlash against the Chicago Police Department, and the Dragon’s biggest naysayer, R. Richard Richards, took this opportunity to attack the Dragon with a robotic weapon dubbed “Dragon Slayer”. Later, the Dragon encountered the She-Dragon, a young superpowered woman who modeled herself after him.
Following an attack on the police station and the murder of Cyberface (who is later resurrected), the Dragon led a SWAT team to finally take down the Overlord. The battle was harsh, and every member of the SWAT Team perished except for the Dragon, who was skinned alive. Even in his weakened state, the Dragon finally unmasked the Overlord as mafia boss Antonio Seghetti, who subsequently falls to his death.
After aiding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a second time, the Dragon narrowly survived another attack by the Fiend, which left him nearly crippled after his bones healed incorrectly. To make matters worse, Chicago was in the midst of a brutal gang war that arose as a result of the Overlord’s death. The Vicious Circle, once kept tightly organized by the Overlord, had since separated into several factions that were battling for criminal supremacy. The Dragon was found by a friendly cabbie and Mighty Man, who used his super-strength to re-set the Dragon’s bones. After recuperating from this ordeal, the Dragon fought another prison break, this time in a maximum security facility torn open by a newly resurrected Cyberface. This battle marked the end of the gang war, and Cyberface assumed command of the Vicious Circle.
This victory was followed by difficult times for the Dragon. After a number of crossovers with other Image Comics characters including WildStar and The Maxx, the Dragon encountered Spawn and ultimately was sent to Hell by the Fiend. The Fiend can possess living bodies, and his powers are fuelled by the capacity for hate of those possessed. His last victim was Debbie Harris’ mother, who was unaware that the demon possessing her was the spirit of her daughter’s murderer. While in Hell, a fist-fight occurred between God and the Devil. As God finally overcomes the Devil, he warned his defeated opponent: “Don’t fuck with God.” Just as the amnesiac Dragon begins to ask about his origins, God returned him to earth.
Afterwards, things grow steadily worse for the Dragon. He was unable to save ill fellow officer Phil Dirt with a blood transfusion. Meanwhile, Rapture (pregnant with the Dragon’s child) suffered internal damage when the baby kicked—the unborn child having inherited its father’s strength—and Rapture entered premature labour. The Dragon was not able to reach the hospital in time, and the baby appeared to have died. However, in truth, the infant was taken by the Covenant of the Sword, a shadowy organization bent on world takeover.
After a crossover with Hellboy, the Dragon was caught up in the Mars Attacks Image and Mars Attacks Savage Dragon event, in which he was responsible for destroying the Martians’ bases on Mars using a Martian growth ray. This resulted in their retreat and possible extinction. While he was gone, the Vicious Circle had taken control of the city. Returning home to a devastated Chicago, the Dragon was captured and publicly crucified by the Circle. The Dragon survived and defeated most of the villains, but the Dragon’s new superior, Captain Mendoza, suspended him for having been missing for so long. During his suspension, the Dragon spent a few months as a bounty hunter and helped rebuild the city after the Martian invasion.
Government Super Team Leader
Behind the scenes during this period, Rob Liefeld departed from Image Comics. The Mars Attacks Image event and the Shattered Image crossover were used as a way to phase out characters created by Liefeld from the collective “Image Universe”,including Youngblood. In the pages of the Savage Dragon, Larsen has the Dragon approached by the United States government to form a superhuman task-force to replace Youngblood. After negotiations, the team is dubbed the Special Operations Strikeforce, or S.O.S. This team includes much of the super-powered supporting cast of the book, including Jennifer Murphy, a super-strong, invulnerable single mother first introduced in The Savage Dragon: Sex & Violence mini-series. Despite being the founding member of the team, the Dragon spends little time as a member.
Later, on a dying parallel Earth, a murderous despot named Darklord begins to swap parts of his earth with parts from the Dragon’s. The Dragon leads a team of S.O.S. members, including Jennifer Murphy and his former girlfriend Rapture, to this world to stop Darklord. Rapture is killed by Darklord, and the Dragon and Jennifer are separated from the rest of the team. While the remaining members of S.O.S. manage to stop the transfer and escape back to their own Earth, the Dragon and Jennifer are forced to find their own way off of the dying planet. While they make their escape, Dragon attempts to find this Earth’s Rapture, only to find that world’s Debbie Harris instead.
The threesome are lost in space for some months, and Dragon is once again presumed dead, eventually landing on Godworld, where Debbie dies but is revived as an angel. Dragon and Jennifer are caught in a battle between Thor andHercules, and then sent back to Earth by All-God; Debbie does not return with them. Following this, Dragon fights aDr. Doom-like armored dictator before returning to Chicago on leave and striking up a casual sexual relationship with his former partner Alex Wilde.
In giant-sized issue 50, many of the series sub plots are resolved, and in a climatic battle among most of the series cast, the Dragon is killed by the mystic Abner Cadaver; however, the wizard is murdered midway through this by William Jonson, and the Dragon is bonded with him.
William Jonson Dragon
The series changed its title to Savage She-Dragon for five issues, featuring her as the main character during an attack by The God Squad to retrieve the various super-freaks that were descendants of gods. This led to the S.O.S. returning to Godworld and its accidental destruction by S.O.S. member and former Deadly Duo member Kid Avenger. During this time, William Jonson realizes he and the Dragon are sharing bodies, and shortly thereafter Dragon finds he has the ability to take over Jonson’s body so they become a masked superhero. While he is helping She-Dragon, Jonson’s fiancé, Rita Medermade, is kidnapped by Jonson’s brother Ralph and they both encounter an individual wearing the Overlord armor. While rescuing her, Jonson is shot, Ralph is killed by Overlord, and Dragon is given full possession of his body.
Abner Cadaver returns—made up of parts of dead God Squad characters, Darklord, and Dragon’s arm—and engages in battle with Fon~Ti, the mystical being who was once Horde. After Fon~Ti’s victory, he separates the Dragon from Jonson and returns the Dragon to his normal body. Having admitted their love, Jennifer and Dragon begin to date. After a fight with Impostor, posing as Rapture, Dragon proposes to Jennifer, and their wedding follows in the next issue, in which Jennifer is apparently killed by the new Overlord. In truth, she was replaced with Impostor beforehand by the Covenant of the Sword. Though he had only been semi-active before, the Dragon officially resigns from the S.O.S. and became the legal guardian of Jennifer’s daughter Angel. In the following issue, the Overlord sub plot is tied up after the Dragon defeats his new team. The Dragon kills Overlord, and he is revealed as supporting character Vic Nixon, who had worn the armor to spy on Rita; the armor then corrupted him. After this, the Overlord armor is destroyed.
Following the resolution of the new Overlord plot, the series spent most of its issues wrapping up all the remaining sub plots. This was preparation for the eventual revamp in issue 75, with the Dragon as a single parent looking after Angel and eventually losing a custody battle for her because of his dangerous lifestyle. The Dragon dated a television producer named Marcy Howard, resumed his casual affair with Alex Wilde, and dated Ann Stevens before she is murdered, while a number of super-powered children and adults were kidnapped by the Covenant of the Sword.
After losing custody of Angel, and Ann’s murder, the Dragon and Mighty Man (now former Freak Force member Dart) began searching for the missing SuperPatriot. This led them to the Covenant of the Sword, which had in its possession SuperPatriot, Jennifer and the Dragon’s child. The Dragon and Mighty Man are captured but eventually rescued in a large battle similar to the one in issue 50 in which a number of characters are killed.
It was revealed that the Covenant was formed by Damian Darklord, a time traveler who was the enemy of a vigilante named Super-Tough. This man became Darklord and started life as Damian, the son of Liberty, SuperPatriot’s daughter who was raped during the Mars Attacks event. Damian also built and detonated the “Nega Bomb” made up of super-powered individuals that de-powered every non-natural “freak” in the world. The Dragon then kills him.
Savage World Survivor
With issue 76, the series changed into a Jack Kirby-inspired post-apocalyptic/dystopian story. The Dragon is stuck in a new reality he created by killing the infant Damian Darklord, which prevented him from going back in time, and with most of the mutated and monstrous populace of this world trying to kill him. The Dragon finds his house to be a crater and believes Jennifer and Angel are dead. The Dragon has encounters with WildStar and Madman and finds out that during his time possessed, without Mace to stop him, he went on a much longer rampage, killing Alex Wilde. The Dragon also discovers that Cyberface is now President of America and has SuperPatriot under his control. The Dragon organises a group of old enemies and allies to defeat Cyberface. After fulfilling a commitment to Rex Dexter—who helped him overthrow Cyberface—by saving his daughter, the Dragon returns a hero, and finds his way back to Chicago and is re-united with Jennifer and Angel, who had in fact survived.
The Dragon then finds his old world had survived as well as the Savage World. His counterpart from Darkworld, this Dragon, was defeated, but the Dragon’s old Earth was destroyed by a world-devouring Galactus-like being named Universo, despite the best efforts of the Dragon and his son, Malcolm, who are left floating in space after its destruction. The Dragon is able to save Alex Wilde from that world. After this, the Dragon marries Jennifer and lives with her, Angel, and Angel’s new “pet”,Mr. Glum, who is secretly plotting to kill Dragon.
To coincide with the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Larsen created a corrupt politician Ronald Winston Urass, who engineers a successful write-in campaign to elect the Dragon President of the United States. However, once his criminal intents and relationship to the criminal Dread Knight are exposed, the Supreme Court disallows these votes. This leads a vengeful Urass to attack the Dragon using the armour of his father, Dread Knight, who was an old foe of SuperPatriot’s.
Behind the scenes, Erik Larsen was made publisher of Image Comics, causing a nearly year-long publishing gap between issues 121 and 122 of the series. The title resumed regular publication in January 2006, with the first story involving a vengeful scientist from Iraq sending an almost unstoppable robot to kill the President.
Mr. Glum’s plans for world domination were realised using the power of the God Gun (a weapon able to grant three wishes to its user). Glum fires the gun and asserts his control of the planet while the Dragon is incapacitated in a hospital, having lost his rapid healing abilities. Glum was, at the time, on the run with the Dragon’s stepdaughter Angel after he caused her to grow to more than 100-feet tall, and she accidentally destroyed her house and crippled her mother. The two become partners, and Angel adopts a murderous, merciless personality, while Glum set the people of Earth to work with the impossible task of making the planet look like his face (as his old world did).
The Dragon is revived with his healing abilities restored and is able to defy Glum’s control because of a loop-hole in his wish that means he cannot control extraterrestrials. The Dragon is unable to get close enough to Glum due to the various robots and villains Glum has under his control. However, the intervention of a number of characters from the comic series Wanted, who had come to steal the God Gun, allows Dragon to destroy the weapon, negating Glum’s wish.
During the story, Vanguard’s space ship is destroyed, freeing Universo, who was imprisoned on it. He begins to suck the energy from Earth once more. Universo and its herald are killed by Solar Man, a Superman-like hero who became murderous and was wished out of existence using the God Gun, a wish undone by the Dragon’s destruction of the weapon. She-Dragon also returns from Dimension X with the Angel from the Dragon’s original world of origin. They are being pursued by the Darkworld Dragon and a new villainess Battleaxe.
Back to Basics
After Angel and Malcolm’s return to the new world, Savage Dragon is left to face a new array of troubles. With Jennifer now disappeared and presumed dead, two superstrong kids, but ill-equipped to face the return to normalcy after months spent in isolation (Angel has now learning deficits, and Malcolm is nearly illiterate) and no income to care for his family, Savage Dragon returns to the Police force.
Meanwhile, a new Overlord takes over the Vicious Circle, resuming his attacks over the city, and Savage, hospitalized after a fight, is ambushed and killed by a newfreak, with the power to steal the memories and the lifeforce of his enemies. Due to the huge amount of lifeforce held by Dragon, and his powerful immune system, the freak absorbs all of his memories and physical characteristic, becoming essentially a new iteration of the Dragon. The Impostor Dragonhas the remains of his former body packed in a preservative solution by Rex, and resumes his normal life.
Even this new lease at life appears to be short-lived, as the New Overlord, after trying to bargain with Savage Dragon for his allegiance, literally blows his head and torso away: the Impostor Dragon, brought in the Vicious Circle laboratories for analysis, revives himself as a crazed, unstoppable, deformed powerhouse with conflicting memories, bent on nourishing himself on the superpowered Angel and Malcolm.
Still knowing nothing about the actions of the Impostor Dragon, Angel and Malcolm seek a way to revive the body of Savage Dragon, despite being faced by Rex with the prospective of creating nothing more than a soulless being, or a mind-addled monstrosity, due to the brain matter lost during the attack. They set off to ask Nurse Stevens for the last blood sample of Dragon, hoping to use its regenerative abilities to speed on the recovery, and the resurrection, of the Savage Dragon corpse. The Vicious Circle however overpowers them, stealing the blood sample to create an army of Dragon clones.
As a last way resort, after being faced by the Impostor Dragon, who attacks Rex and is frozen in the preservative solution, Rex and Malcolm agree to transfuse part of Malcolm blood in the Dragon corpse. The Dragon revives, but losing all the memories of his former life.
Concerned about the new, harder attitude of the Dragon, the New Overlord has the Dark Dragon sent after the Savage Dragon. Showing a callous disregard for human life, the Savage Dragon ultimately reveals to have regained every shred of his past memory as Kurr the Emperor (see above), and after beating up the Dark Dragon he eats his brains, killing him for his defiance.
He then proceeds to alienate from himself Malcolm, planning vengeance over the Vicious Circle, now using Dragon’s blood to empower his members. The New Overlord decides to strike a truce with the police department, lending the help of all the Superfreaks in his command to stop Kurr. As the last attempt fails, Kurr sheds his facade, proclaiming his identity and retelling his origins (see below), for the first time in-universe speaking, to Malcolm and Angel. He then briefly battles an unnamed shapeshifter, using the apperance of She-Dragon and Jennifer, then Angel herself. He kills the shapeshifter in coldblood, making the point about his new outlook at life, then spares Angel, because of her “assistance” in sheltering and protecting his amnesiac self.