“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.
And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
―Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Throughout literature, the plot element of conflict has been employed to create an emotional investment in story and characters. Multiple factions, characters, or forces competing for an objective that can only be obtained or achieved by one faction, character, or force creates a situation where someone (or a group) wins, and someone (or a group) loses. This is typically depicted with a protagonist versus an antagonist (enemy or villain).
Conflict is categorized in several ways (in many cases overlapping one another). “Man against man” (such as G.I. Joe vs Cobra),”man against nature” (such as the 1975 film Jaws), and “man against self” (such as the 1999 film Fight Club*). In modern literature the concepts of “man against society” and “man against machine” have also been included.
(*NOTE: We do not talk about this.)
Several of these concepts are evident in writer B. Clay Moore’s Savage, an emotionally gripping story of life, death, and survival within a mysterious nature setting filled with carnivorous dinosaurs and murderous humans where conflict is most certainly center stage.
With the release of Savage #4 this week, the Savage mini-series is now complete. However, within its last panel on the final page, this ending arrives without a sense of closure. As many have predicted, there is much more excitement in store for the Savage mythos within the Valiant Universe.
As a series, Savage has been phenomenal. Early predictions of a Valiant recreating Turok with Savage could not have been further from the truth. There is zero connection in any way, as Savage was (and is) an entirely different concept from start to finish. Savage is Tarzan in the Valiant Universe; only a version that would be rated “R” for extreme violence and savagery. As a story, Savage is not ridiculously difficult to understand or follow. It is not supposed to be. Instead, the focus is more on how nature, beast, and mankind can (in their most primal state) strip away all but the most basic need for survival. There are very few comforts in these books, only mementos to remind the protagonist (and readers) of a tragic past and the savagery of humanity.
Artistically, the team of artists Clayton Henry and Lewis LaRosa, with colors by Brian Reber is as brilliant as ever. LaRosa’s work on this series has been nothing short of visually phenomenal. Employing a photorealistic artistic approach using Copic markers to create layered and rich greytones, each page and panel is complete experience that is unlike anything presently available in comics today. LaRosa’s lifelong interest in, and in-depth understanding of dinosaurs is a resource that cannot be easily duplicated in the natural world. LaRosa is without question one of Valiant Entertainment’s premiere artist due to his unique and appealing art style, which is as evident as ever in Savage #4. LaRosa’s cover art (both regular edition and the 1:50 Variant) are more than covers; they are part of the story that begins on the cover, and then continues sequentially panel after panel on pages #1 and #2. Colorist Brian Reber really brings the cover and subsequent pages to life by creating a sunset backdrop with color gradient shift from blue to purple, to yellow and orange. The result is a breathtaking opening sequence that is perhaps the very best of the series.
The main storyline is drawn by artist Clayton Henry, with a mixture of colors by Brian Reber. Keeping with his signature clean and precise art style and minimal use of blacks, Henry again provides a canvas for the color artists to shape and layer each panel and page. Dinosaur color palates are taken directly from lizards found throughout the animal kingdom to provide natural, lifelike shades and colors.
Savage is an outstanding mini-series that captures the most primal instincts and savagery of humanity in conflict with nature, mankind, and itself. It is a story of survival and overcoming fear; and in many ways becoming that which is feared. The hunter becomes the hunted. New readers do not need to have previously read any Valiant titles or series to enjoy Savage, which makes it a fantastic starting point to enter the Valiant Universe.