Best Shots Advance Review: Valiant's SAVAGE #1 'A Unrelenting & Bone-Crunching Take On The Displaced Castaway Story'

"Savage #1" first look
Credit: Valiant Entertainment
Credit: Valiant Entertainment

Savage #1
Written by B. Clay Moore
Art by Lewis LaRosa, Clayton Henry, and Brian Reber
Lettering by Dave Lanphear
Published by Valiant Entertainment
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

“The Future of Valiant” rolls on with the bloodily entertaining Savage #1. Presented in two wildly different but equally harrowing halves, writer B. Clay Moore and artists Lewis LaRosa, Clayton Henry, and Brian Reber present a tale of survival on an island forgotten by time. Bloodshot Reborn artist LaRosa details the present where a young feral boy engages in a gory battle with dinosaurs in order to secure provisions. While in the past, Harbinger Wars penciler Clayton Henry gives readers a look into the boy’s violent origins as his parents, a world famous soccer star and his pregnant wife, crash land on the mysterious island and slowly come to realize just how dire their situation has become.

Credit: Valiant Entertainment

Tied together by the adaptably rich colors of Brian Reber, Savage #1 is a unrelenting and bone-crunching take on the displaced castaway story; one that delivers the dizzying dinosaur-themed violence that reader’s expect from the title along with the added layer of tragedy thanks to the title’s slick flashback portion. By melding human drama with prehistoric action, Savage #1 stands tall as another winning debut from Valiant Entertainment.

From page one, Savage and its writer B. Clay Moore looks to cut readers to the bone. In a wordless opening sequence, Moore, backed by the rustic pencils and energetic panel layouts of LaRosa, shows us just how dangerous every day life is for the boy as he engages in violent close quarters combat with a dino just for a nest of eggs. By getting out of the way of the visuals, Moore allows LaRosa and Reber a blood-soaked showcase, one that establishes the tone and stakes of the book very quickly. LaRosa’s pulpy, heavily brushed style is perfect for the opening of Savage as he makes the opening sequence sing with tight choreography and little telling details like Savage’s deep scars and the chipped long nails, giving reader’s a clear sense of just how long he’s been living his life.

Credit: Valiant Entertainment

After the bloody show, Moore shifts quickly, along with Clayton Henry and Reber to show the very start of the boy’s predatory journey. Before Savage was stalking prey, he was a babe in arms, in the care of his superstar father and his pregnant mother. While certainly less actively violent than the opening, Moore plays with a different kind of terror here; the terror of impending tragedy mixed with grounded emotions. As Moore shifts, so does the artwork, giving this debut a compelling dual look while still matching the harrowing tone. Henry’s polished, almost digital-looking pencils captures the civilized look of a world of privilege that cracks quickly and continues to splinter even as Savage’s father refuses to accept the severity of their plight.

Credit: Valiant Entertainment

Both Clayton Henry and Lewis LaRosa’s visual styles give Moore’s script the proper energy it needs throughout, but both men’s pencils would be nothing without the colors of Brian Reber. Another Valiant mainstay, Reber displays a wonderful versatility in this debut, adapting well to both LaRosa and Henry’s style in both parts. In the opening half, Reber’s colors are rustic and autumnal, highlighting the deeply tanned skin of the main character, the scales of the dinosaur he is facing, and the blood they both spread through each page. But while the opening looks like a set piece straight from a Robert E. Howard adaptation, Reber’s palette in the latter half highlights the sleek world before the crash, even on the island. Reber’s colors through Henry’s pages match the digital look of the pencils and stand as a stark contrast to the gory opening. Employing a compelling visual duality drenched in rich colors Savage #1 backs up its tightly plotted script with visuals that match the story’s intensity.

Valiant Entertainment and its “Future of Valiant” initiative has been on a roll as of late and with Savage #1 it shows little sign of slowing down. B. Clay Moore, Clayton Henry, Lewis LaRosa, and Brian Reber deliver bloody action and riveting drama in equal measure rendered with an eye for visual flair. Throwing members of the elite into the wild isn’t a new narrative, but Savage #1 looks to reinvigorate the genre with rich thematics and bloody precision.

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