Advance Review: Savage #1
“He killed for food most often, but, being a man, he sometimes killed for pleasure, a thing which no other animal does; for it has remained for man alone among all creatures to kill senselessly and wantonly for the mere pleasure of inflicting suffering and death.”
― Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes
For those who have been waiting for a compelling, character-driven story that blends the very best of the classics Tarzan and The Jungle Book with pure Valiant Entertainment magic, then Savage is unquestionably the book for you.
The story, written by B. Clay Moore, is based on a familiar premise; and executed with artistic brilliance and a mastery of storytelling. Each character that Moore writes has their own unique personality and style, and the interactions between them flow naturally. These characters are both flawed and believable, and written in such a way to indicate a mature and in many ways realistic understanding of the human condition and long-term relationships.
The setting where Savage takes place appears to draw inspiration from a number of sources, as nuanced elements from films such as Cast Away, Jurassic World, King Kong, The Legend of Tarzan, and The Jungle Book appear on paper. Savage is the finest mysterious dinosaur infested jungle island survivor fiction in print today! It is an escape from reality that suspends disbelief while taking readers on a journey into their childhood fantasies.
The story occurs in two parts; present day (which unfolds with almost complete silence) drawn by artist Lewis LaRosa and color artist Brian Reber, and the past (where most of the dialogue takes place) drawn by artist Clayton Henry, and Reber.
The present day story is told visually by the team of LaRosa and Reber. LaRosa designed Savage to be a feral teenager (about 15 years old) who is a complete bad@$$ hunter who must surviving in a hostile and dangerous jungle. Possible character inspiration appears to be based loosely on the idea of an older Mowgli (from The Jungle Book) or perhaps a young Tarzan. Savage’s parents (Kevin and Veronica Sauvage) appear loosely based on superstar couple David and (a blond) Victoria Beckham. What is important to note is that while the main character is called Savage, Moore confirms that the term accurately applies to virtually all aspects of the setting in which the story unfolds.
LaRosa work on Savage #1 can only be compared to letting a child loose in a candy store. LaRosa completely loves drawing dinosaurs and knows quite a bit about dinosaur anatomy, behavior, and genera/species. LaRosa’s cover and interior pages reflect his passion, and are as visually stunning as they are action packed. Employing his now signature art style using Copic markers for rich texture with Micron pens for detail, LaRosa has again demonstrated a mastery of his craft and created a fantastic setting, while keeping the focus exactly where it belongs; on the characters and action! Reber is the perfect match for LaRosa (and also Henry as we will discuss in a moment) as the pair have worked together on several occasions in the past. Reber not only knows how to best color LaRosa’s layered greytones, but further adds a brings so much organic life to each page that it is difficult to ask for more. Reber provides beautiful layers of depth to jungle plants and foliage, fire, sand, and water. Human (and dinosaur) skin is life-like and with a visible texture that almost allows the events of each panel to leap from the page!
For flashback sequences, the team of Henry and Reber take the wheel. There is a significant and noticeable contrast in style between LaRosa and Henry’s art styles which are both top-tier in terms of quality. While LaRosa’s style features rich layers of greytones, and almost paints each page with markers, Henry’s style features a phenomenal understanding of perspective with perhaps the steadiest hand and cleanest lines in the industry today! Henry achieves an incredible quality of work while minimizing any unnecessary excess. He creates consistently perfect work from start to finish in such a way that is truly remarkable and among the most professional work in print. There are so many aspects and examples that can be discussed, however, one only need to look at Kevin Sauvage’s hair and beard to see a flawless use of hatching to create a perfect shading gradient in hairstyle. Henry’s work may appear simple, but trust that it only “appears” that way, and you would be hard pressed to duplicate his level of artistic mastery.
Henry’s style also allows Reber the freedom to do what he does best; bring art to life! Using the same color palette as he did with LaRosa’s work, Reber again demonstrates his ability to enhance even the finest of pencil and ink. Reber creates shadows, color depth, lighting effects, temperature, and structure with each drop of color.
Savage #1 delivers on every level with a compelling story and world-class artistic team. If you read only one book this week, you owe it to yourself to make it a Savage one!
Savage #1 will be released November 30th from Valiant Entertainment