After the runaway success of Invincible, The Walking Dead, and The Old Guard, Image comics has become a dark horse, no pun intended, in the comic book to the live-action adaptation arms race. What sets Image comics apart when Hollywood chooses to adapt their books, at least compared to Marvel and DC, is the variety of genres they offer. Even though Image has no shortage of superhero properties, the range of stories they offer far exceeds anything Marvel could ever hope to muster. As a result, once Image makes the transition into a genuinely unstoppable home for Hollywood intellectual properties, there's no ceiling to their success.
Yet, none of Image's success would be possible without the original creators that founded the publishing house. While most of the original seven creators have migrated to the greener pastures of more lucrative fields related to comics, there's still one creator that stayed loyal to the industry. Erik Larsen, the creator of Savage Dragon, has been drawing the series since 1992 and hasn't stopped since. To put that in perspective, that exceeds Jack Kirby's mammoth tenure on The Fantastic Four. However, even though Dragon has been running for decades, I'm willing to bet you don't know much about him.
If I had to give the elevator pitch for the series, I'd say that Savage Dragon is essentially a series about John McClane with superpowers. In reality, Dragon is so much more than that. Savage Dragon is a comic fan's comic. Using the eponymous character as a vessel for his view on the industry, Erik Larsen can poke fun at tropes and vent his grievances with the comic industry. What I believe makes Savage Dragon required reading for comic fans is how perfectly the series works in retrospect. When you read Savage Dragon while contextualizing it within the era in which each issue was published, the series becomes a perfect companion for any history book on the modern age of comics.
Another aspect of Savage Dragon that's unique is the profession of the titular character. As a cop, Dragon may work with superheroes, but their status as vigilantes prevents him from truly allying with most of them. This perspective allows the title to have a bizarre sense of realism despite the heaps of absurdity Larsen crams into any given issue. If Savage Dragon were to be adapted into a film today, it would work as the perfect mature yet equally comedic counterpoint to the homogeneity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you've never touched the book, or have been curious about it, use this as your excuse to pick it. Savage Dragon is hilarious and action-packed. But above all else, Erik Larsen's current streak on the book is an ongoing piece of comic history that is impossible to replicate.