Graphic Fantasy #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Eric Larsen, Al Harris, and Kevin Keyes, art by Eric Larsen, Al Harris, and Kevin Keyes, inks by Eric Larsen, and lettering by Peggy Nahas. Reprinting one of the hardest to find Savage Dragon comics, “Revenge,” this reprint delivers a series of tales from 1982 featuring several then-new heroes. While this will surely be of interest for long time fans of the series, it poses some significant hurdles for those who may be less invested in the main character.
Comics have come a long way. I need go no further than the pages of one of my many Marvel Essentials trade paperbacks to be reminded of that fact. From storytelling and art to general character design, the medium has done a lot of growing over the years. That’s not to say there aren’t fabulous storylines from back in the day. But as a whole, comics have become far more nuanced, and the stories, and characters they follow, have matured into something much more well-rounded. Graphic Fantasy #1 certainly reminded me just how far superhero stories have really come.
Our first tale focuses on the Dragon. Recently retired from hero work following the death of his wife, the Dragon now tries to devote himself to raising his little girl. But, as a long-standing hero, he has made many enemies. With every villain he’s ever faced seemingly crawling out of the woodwork, his life is far from the quiet he had hoped for. One day, on the way to the zoo, his daughter is seriously wounded and put into a coma. With nothing left to lose, the Dragon goes on an all-out manhunt to find the assailant and bring him to justice.
While the premise for this first story in Graphic Fantasy #1 is solid enough, it’s characters are so wooden, and every plot point is hit and summarily left behind so fast, that no amount of genuine emotion can be garnered from the events as they transpire. The poor writing and awkwardly fast pace resach their zenith when the Dragon finally confronts the enemies who have banded together to kill him.
Every villainous proclamation and heroic retort is so basic and obvious that the only reaction they invoke from me is to cringe. This failure is compounded by a fight that is over so fast the protagonist is barely able to finish thinking about how he should never be able to win it before it’s done. And there is no explanation as to how he manages this feat, that not even he thinks he can do. His arms swing, and people fall. I guess he just doesn’t know his own strength.
The remainder of Graphic Fantasy #1’s stories all suffer from the same archaic writing and rushed plots. They simply try to do far too much for the time they have.
The art here is also instantly recognizable as being from a bygone era. While this book’s black and white presentation is always clear and easy to make out, this clarity is the only praise I can really give it. Character’s body langue often suffers from the same sort of cringe that comes from the writing. The characters in the panels overexpress themselves while not portraying any sense of sincerity in their emotions.
When all is said and done Graphic Fantasy #1 is a piece of nostalgia that will fit great in the collections of long-time fans. It’s always nice getting your hands on that missing issue, and checking another box on the must-gets list, even if the stories it contains hasn’t aged well. For anyone else, however; I’d have to give this nearly four-decades-old book a hard pass.
Graphic Fantasy #1 is available now, wherever comics are sold.
Graphic Fantasy #1
Graphic Fantasy #1 is a piece of nostalgia that will fit great in the collections of long-time fans. It’s always nice getting your hands on that missing issue, and checking another box on the must-gets list, even if the stories it contains hasn’t aged well. For anyone else, however; I’d have to give this nearly four-decades-old book a hard pass.