May 13, 2017

SAVAGE DRAGON

SAVAGE DRAGON
(USA Network, September 21, 1995-December 21, 1996)


Universal Cartoon Studios, Lacewood Productions (season 1), Studio B Productions (season 2)


MAIN CAST:


            The Savage Dragon is an ongoing comicbook series published by Image Comics and one of the company’s original launch titles. The title character, Dragon, is a green-skinned, muscular alien with a large fin on his head and the ability to rapidly heal. He had no memory of his past before he was found in a burning field by Lt. Frank Darling. He eventually joined the Chicago PD to help them battle “superfreaks” (the term for superpowered beings) that were part of the criminal organization known as the Vicious Circle run by the Overlord.

The Dragon and his universe.

Dragon was created by Erik Larsen as far back as elementary school, appearing in many of his homemade comics. The character underwent some revisions and maturation by the time it saw legitimate publication in the pages of Graphic Fantasy, a self-publishing effort by Larsen and two friends in 1982. By the time Larsen left Marvel Comics with his fellow creators to co-found Image, Dragon had evolved into his current form. Initially, The Savage Dragon was a three-issue mini-series, but its success turned it into a regular series the following year completely written and drawn by Larsen.

The Dragon and Alex.

The success of Batman: The Animated Series marked a renewed interest in networks for shows based on comic books. The additional success of Image’s debut drew networks towards their properties for potential adaptations. Universal Cartoon Studios acquired the rights to adapt Larsen’s comic into an animated series that would run on the USA Network’s USA Action Extreme Team programming block, which was part of their Carton Express block.

Overlord.

The series largely boiled down and condensed the essence of Larsen’s book: Dragon (Jim Cummings) was recruited to the Chicago PD to deal with Overlord (Tony Jay) and his legion of superfreaks. Those superfreaks included Mako the Shark (Jeff Bennett), a criminal in the army who was mauled by a shark when an experimental bomb was detonated, turning him into a human shark; Octopus (Rob Paulsen), a seemingly-immortal being with octopus tentacles coming from his torso; Bludgeon (Cummings), a super-strong low-level member of the Circle; Arachnid (Frank Welker), a mutated man-spider with multiple arms and matching abilities; Basher (Peter Cullen), another Circle strongman with ambitions that often led him to act outside of Overlord’s orders; and Horde (Rene Auberjonois), a being comprised of mind-controlling worms. Aiding Dragon was his partner, Alex Wilde (Kath Soucie), and his female counterpart, She-Dragon (Jennifer Hale), as well as the occasional outlaw Barbaric (Bennet).

The Fiend looking for his next host.

            Savage Dragon debuted on September 21, 1995 and ran for two seasons. Season 1 was co-produced by Lacewood Productions and season 2 by Studio B Productions. AKOM Productions handled the animation based off of character designs by Frank Suarez. Larsen himself had little involvement in the production of the show. He has often described the comic as a practice in self-indulgence, tossing in anything he thought would be cool without much rhyme or reason. That meant it often featured content that wasn’t appropriate for Saturday audiences. As a result, the show was considerably more toned-down than the comic, and featured a more typical stand-alone story structure that ignored any sort of ongoing character arcs. The series was written by producer Duane Capizzi, Steve Roberts, Henry Gilroy, Ernie Jon, Steve Cuden, Richard Stanley, Bob Forward, Wendy Reardon, Reed Shelly and Jess Winfield.

Dragon vs. Warrior King.

            During the second season, Savage Dragon participated in a four-program crossover with fellow USA shows Street Fighter: The Animated Series, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, and Wing Commander Academy. During that crossover, the original character, Warrior King (Michael Dorn), traveled between the four shows in a quest to retrieve an object of power. The shows’ actual characters, however, remained on their own programs.

She-Dragon: NOT a bootleg.

Larsen has described the show as a “meh” effort on the part of those involved, praising the decent animation but panning the watered-down tonality of its overall presentation. He continues to publish the comic through Image, having surpassed 200 issues with no signs of stopping. The show, however, has largely faded into obscurity beyond dedicated fans of the character and animation. While bootleg versions of it have been made available on YouTube and for sale at conventions, the show has yet to have any sort of legitimate release on either DVD or VHS.



EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“R.S.V.P.” (9/21/95) – Overlord and Arachnid kidnap Frank and Alex to lure Dragon into a trap.

“Possession” (9/28/95) – Horde uses his mind-control leeches to turn lab workers into criminals and send Barbaric on a rampage.

“Undercover” (10/5/95) – Alex goes undercover to infiltrate Overlord’s operation but she is quickly discovered.

“Dragonsmasher” (10/12/95) – OpenFace and Octopus create a cyborg to battle Dragon, distracting him from the plot between Overlord and a congressional candidate.

“Locomotion” (10/19/95) – Overlord’s men take over a train and plan to use it to destroy a state-of-the-art tunnel under Lake Michigan.

“She-Dragon” (10/26/95) – Dragon teams-up with She-Dragon to rescue Alex from Overlord, and Dragon learns about She-Dragon’s vendetta against him.

“Hurt” (11/2/96) – Bludgeon looks to spring his partner Lowblow, and Alex falls for a paramedic who’s prejudiced against freaks.

“Web” (11/9/96) – Dragon has to team-up with a local sheriff in order to figure out why people keep disappearing from the town.

“Hit-Man” (11/16/96) – Overlord creates a clone of Dragon in order to get close enough to the mayoral candidate and kill him.

“Red-Handed” (11/23/96) – Dragon finally captures Overlord, but Barbaric breaks him out.

“Loathing” (11/30/96) – Dragon tries to trick The Fiend into taking over his body in order to defeat him.

“Rampage” (12/7/96) – She-Dragon confronts a group of bikers  bent on mayhem, and they seek vengeance on her after one of their bikes is damaged.

“Armageddon” (12/14/96) – Horde is resurrected and sets his sights on destroying the ozone layer.

Season 2:
“Bull” (9/28/96) – Dragon investigates mysterious high rise robberies while Alex falls for an actor who stars on a show mimicking Dragon’s life.

“She-Friend” (10/5/96) – The Fiend takes over She-Dragon and feeds on her hate for Overlord.

“Homecoming” (10/12/96) – Doubleheader gets a picture of a young Dragon setting Dragon and Alex to investigate its origins.

“Loose Cannons” (10/19/96) – She-Dragon finally becomes a police officer after she protects the mayor from three freak bikers who tried to get in good with Overlord.

“Star” (10/26/96) – There’s a new vigilante in town and Dragon is determined to figure out who he is.

“Barbarism” (11/2/96) – After Barbaric’s place is destroyed in a fight, he bunks with Dragon for a while.

“Ceasefire” (11/9/96) – A group of former Vicious Circle members form their own group and meet with diplomats to tout the benefit of freaks in society.

“Endgame” (11/16/96) – An orb comes to Earth and gives The Fiend even more power.

“Negate” (11/23/96) – Negate can turn off a freak’s powers, making him a target for the Vicious Circle and freaks who want to be normal again.

“Ball of Fire” (11/30/96) – A rash of bombings around town lead to one major target: the annual policeman’s ball.

“Femme Fatale” (12/7/96) – A new woman enters Barbaric’s life, but she may have checkered associations.

“Bride” (12/14/96) – Octopus and Openface make a bride for Arachnid, but her defective brain makes her a nightmare.

“Dragonlord” (12/21/96) – Evidence is found that Dragon may have been Overlord before the current holder of that title.

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