“Like lions, fear is a different thing in different men, but to me (Tarzan) the only pleasure in the hunt is the knowledge that the hunted thing has power to harm me as much as I have to harm him…”
― Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes
Savage was announced during the May 2016 Valiant Summit, and was (quite incorrectly) described by several other media sources as a variation of the Turok character of classic Gold Key, Valiant, Acclaim, Dark Horse, and (presently) Dynamite Publishing fame. However, with the release of a Savage #2 this week, it is apparent that the people who make this Turok comparison have clearly NOT actually read Savage (or moved beyond the 1990’s for that matter). Those who have read Savage, seem to agree that it is something else entirely.
The artwork, story, characters, setting, and premise is very much inspired by a mixture of ABC’s TV show Lost, and Burrough’s classic book Tarzan of the Apes, and artist Lewis LaRosa stated that his creative vision for the character Savage was loosely that of Mowgli in author Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, if it were to have existed in the Valiant Universe.
In Tarzan of the Apes, the character Tarzan (the son of a English lord) was raised in the jungles of Western Africa by the great apes. In The Jungle Book, the character Mowgli was raised in the jungles of India by a pack of wolves. In Valiant Entertainment’s Savage, the character is raised (early on) by his English celebrity parents in a mysterious jungle, and (later) amongst the dinosaurs of that same jungle. Savage (whose real name is Kevin Sauvage, named after his father) almost certainly adopts pieces of both stories; while also existing as something quite different and original in its own right. Savage contains elements of mystery and uncertainty, paired with violent action and suspenseful terror.
The result is a well constructed story by writer B. Clay Moore, and beautifully depicted (in flashback sequence and in the present) by artists LaRosa and Clayton Henry.
Artistically, the team of LaRosa and colorist Brian Reber create the pages that occur in the present, and feature a 15 year old version of Savage on his own in the Jungle fighting both man and beast. This is LaRosa and Reber at their very best. LaRosa freely admits that he has wanted to draw a book like Savage most of his life, and that it was a love for and interest in dinosaurs that first attracted him to the world of art. Page #2 is a perfect example of this, as LaRosa depicts multiple species of dinosaur with sunlight shining through a lush tropical rainforest canopy a in a beautifully rendered splash page. Reber (who has historically matched LaRosa’s ink the best) is every bit as important to the success of these pages, and together create some of the most vivid and magical artwork available today.
Artist Clayton Henry and reber create the pages that occur in the past. Reber uses the same color palate as he does with LaRosa’s pages, so there is no visual difference in hue or saturation which allows readers to make the transition from LaRosa’s art style to Henry’s quite easily. Even without text, Henry’s pages and panels would tell a compelling story of survival and sacrifice. Henry’s sharp, clean, and precise lines (which are arguably the best of its style in the industry) are consistent from start to finish; masterfully capturing action, movement, and emotion. Reber provides a color gradient and texture to each character to create life-like shading and depth for each character.
Savage is a visually brilliant spectacle of the beauty and savage reality that exists in this story. Both a magical wonder and violent bloodbath, Savage is the escape from reality you have been searching for.