First Impressions – DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #9

Remember when I used to talk about DC Universe Presents? Well, after a period of not caring about it, I’m back in the fire of the periphery properties in DC’s backlog with the latest storyline. It’s time for part one of DC Universe Presents: Savage!

Sometime last year, I began a blog documenting my first impressions of twenty new ongoings that came out as part of DC’s New 52. If you want to read any or all of them, by the way, there’s a directory to all of them if you click the ‘New 52’ tab on my site header. The point here is one of those twenty was for DC Universe Presents, a book showcasing various characters DC has going for it.

Now, the first five issues – the only five issues I’d read up until now bought – concerned Deadman, that ghost who figured prominently in DC’s events up until then, and is currently in Justice League Dark. I assume, I haven’t checked the current roster of that book, not really caring. Point is, Deadman had a solo adventure in the pages of DC Universe Presents. It was okay. After that ended, I found out the feature would be taken over by the Challengers of the Unknown, and I dropped the book because of lack of interest.

But here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure being able to drop and pick up the book was what DC intended from the beginning. And luckily for them, I just happen to like Vandal Savage – as you may have gathered from my rambling praise of Demon Knights – so I decided it was time to read the new story arch. Actually it’s cutting it a little close, considering I didn’t even notice until issue ten came out. My bad.

So who is Vandal Savage? Let’s say for the sake of argument you’ve read my blog, yet had to nod whenever I referred to Vandal Savage because you don’t know who I’m talking about. Vandal Savage is an immortal super villain from prehistoric times. He came into contact with a meteor or something (I only know his origin from the Justice League animated series), and it gave him eternal life. Since he was a cave man, he proceeded to continue being a cave man even as civilization marched on, and he was forced to adopt more complex thinking. Adopt them in service of his primal, selfish desires of course. For more on his inability to change with the times, I recommend the Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes miniseries from IDW, which I’ve talked at length about already.

I mentioned Demon Knights before, which depicts Savage as a more jovial, light-hearted barbarian who will actually be a good guy (assuming it serves his interests and your definition of ‘good’ is lax at best). My theory is that, in addition to several centuries of living, the Savage nowadays has to deal with the authorities’ and superheroes’ lack of tolerance for his wilder, brutal ways, so he’s had cause to be pretty grumpy.

Not that this issue depicts him as a sourpuss. DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #9 has him locked up in super prison because of a series of murders he committed (sacrifices to his old gods; who knew Savage was a religious old school caveman?). And he’s visited after 16 years…by his daughter, who became a police profiler as a result of the traumatic arrest and the death of her mother, Savage’s (most recent, no doubt) wife. And as much as she hates it, she needs her father’s help.

Remember those ritual sacrifices I talked about earlier? Turns out some serial killer decided to copy Savage’s methods, though not his motive (shall we say religious motivation?). So after a brush with an escaped supervillain – where Savage’s daughter proves herself capable in a fight – they make a deal. Savage helps his daughter catch the copycat killer, and she has to bring him along for the ride.

Oh, and she has to call him daddy.

This issue draws a heavy influence from Silence of the Lambs, except replace the cannibal with an immortal caveman supervillain. And I loved it. The way the two main characters play off each other is great.

If there was anything to complain about, it’d be the art. Not all of it, it’s very well constructed and framed. Specifically, there’s the fight between little Savage and the escaped supervillain. The latter has electric powers, but I would never have guessed that from how the artist chose to depict his powers. It’s hard describe because I’m no art major. But despite the visual effect of the powers themselves being pretty cool looking, I’d have been damned to say what his powers actually were. It was a rather impressive battle aura looking effect, very abstract, and very red. Electricity? Not by what I’m seeing.

On the whole I liked this issue, which means I’ll be heading back to the comic store to pick up the next issue. Just in time for the weekly pull. This is why I but this up so soon. That and Vandal Savage is awesome.

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