By Erik Larsen
Letters by: Ferran Delgado
Colours by: Nikos Koutsis
Flats by: Mike Toris
Edited by: Gavin Higginbotham
I’ve never read any Savage Dragon before but for some reason North Force #0 made me curious. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown used to Valiant using zero issues as jumping on points or opportunities to tell the reader something new about the character that wouldn’t necessarily fit into the current storyline. Sadly, that isn’t the case here.
North Force #0 catches up with Malcolm Dragon as he arrives at the eponymous team’s headquarters for an interview of sorts. Which, as superhero stories tend to do, almost immediately turns into an emergency mission for the team as they race across Canada to take on an invading alien army.
Up until the emergency call comes we’re treated to some introductions of the individual team members and a full page conversation about why the heroes haven’t helped out Malcolm until now. It’s a good question really, if I’d been superheroing for over two hundred and fifty instalments I’d be pretty eager to know why a full group of heroes had been avoiding me too.
Narratively this isn’t the most engaging of issues, perhaps if I was aware of what had led to this point I would feel differently. What I will say is Malcolm’s characterisation is something we rarely see in superhero comics, in a brief phone call with his wife Maxine Malcolm he agrees he won’t “go running off into space” and when that exact situation surfaces a few pages later, he refuses to go with North Force into space, seemingly costing him a spot of their team. There’s something almost refreshing about a superhero who sticks to his guns and values his family more than being part of a superhero team.
There’s an incredible old school feel to this issue and I can’t help but feel like there must be an unbelievable sense of continuity and consistency across every issue of the series as it seems like Erik Larsen is still working in the same style he always has. While I don’t think the art style is going to be to everyone’s taste it’s classic Image superheroing through and through, from the chaotic fight scenes to the layout and structure of the dialogue when the team and Malcolm first meet.
Other than a potential jumping on point I don’t really know what I’d been expecting from this issue. I feel a little bit bad criticising it because I can’t really say how it fits into the overall world of one of Image’s longest running series. All I can really say is that I felt quite disappointed reading this issue, I don’t really know if there’s a way to get into Savage Dragon without going all the way back to the beginning, which seems like quite the undertaking at this point. Undeniably the character does look cool and I can see that there’s a lot of fun to be had as a fan and some elements that make Malcolm stand apart from other superheroes. Unfortunately I’m just not sure where to begin reading.
Finally, I do feel like I should point out that North Force #0 is the same issues as Savage Dragon #259. Both of which were released on the same day, and apart from some differences in the cover graphics and back matter are the exact same issue. Call me cynical, but I’m a little bit under the impression that North Force #0 really only exists for the hardcore Savage Dragon fans and collectors that are hoping there’ll be some extra value to this in the future.