Savage Dragon #180
For several issues now, Savage Dragon has been dealing with an alien invasion. The Tyranneans - the race Vanguard is here to watch out for - showed up en masse, and flat out attacked. Their monstrous foot soldiers have been wreaking havoc, and by this issue, everyone is in the fight - Malcolm, Angel, the good guys, the bad guys, the Atlanteans, even the gods - and they're losing. Not just losing; dying. Dying a lot.
Angel and Malcolm realize they can't fight the aliens, so they go to Rex Dexter for help. Rex is a little busy when they get there, but he does come up with something. Let's just say it's awesome, and then the military gets involved.
Meanwhile, Dragon is in space with his dragon-race, and they put an end to the Tyranneans on their home planet. Bonus: they'll get to live there when the genocide is over. Dragon's son isn't so into the solution, and challenges him to a deathmatch to decide leadership of their race.
While all this is going on, Vanguard is dealing with his own problems with the Tyranneans. We see a little bit of that in the main story, then get a bonus story at the end, showing us more of Van's orbital perspective on the battle.
Finally, the invasion is over, and the death toll is astounding. Larsen's willingness to end his characters always amazes me. Not so much that he does it, because I have long agreed that characters should die. It's just that he often does it in passing, which can be a great shock, because it's not the typical big comic death we're used to. It's not taking place on a splash page; it's not the focus of the book; there's no moment of silence, shock or awe from the other characters - someone just dies, and the story continues. It's not just no name characters either. Nobody is safe! The bodycount ran for panels and panels in this issue - it was almost too much to take in.
For that alone - that is, Larsen's sheer ballsiness at just giving up characters to make a great, believable story - I give this comic a five star rating. The Vanguard back-ups have been throwing me a little though. This issue's story charged through to the end of the arc, and then the Vanguard story jumped backwards a little, and showed what Vanguard was up to in space. It just sort of... I don't know... it almost felt like an afterthought, but not quite. When you get to the end of the Vanguard segment, it's fine. I guess it's just the jumping backwards a little that takes me out of the story for a minute. So I deducted a half-star. Final score: four-and-a-half stars.