A Quiet Place takes place in a world where sound will get you killed. In Savage Avengers, Marvel just said, “cool story bro, needs more dragons.”
Warning: spoilers for Savage Avengers #14!
While Marvel has always had plenty of their own ideas – they are, in fact, known as the House of Ideas – they’re also no strangers to adopting ideas from the culture around them. Whether it’s crafting their own parody of Superman or sending the X-Men on adventures in Wonderland, Marvel know a good thing when they see it – and more importantly, they know how to improve it.
Arguably, that’s the skill on show in Savage Avengers #14, by Gerry Duggan, Patch Zircher, and Java Tartaglia, which takes tense sci-fi movie A Quiet Place and levels a familiar refrain at director and star John Krasinski: “cool story bro, needs more dragons.”
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The story begins in Bruges, with an old woman ambling down the street tightly holding her groceries. A local drunk staggers out from an alleyway, hoarsely asking her, “Is it over?!” The woman indicates for him to be quiet, but it’s too late – the man drops his bottle, and is left only a few seconds to react in horror before being incinerated in a sudden burst of flame. It’s clear that, as in A Quiet Place, these people are living in an environment where excessive sound comes with a death sentence.
The story then cuts to the meanest team of heroes ever to go by the name of Avengers – Conan, Magik, Juggernaut, and the Black Knight – forming up to take the fight to Bruges and claim the Second Eye of Agamotto from the terror that’s holding the city in its sway – the dragon Sadurang. Sadurang is a fascinating character – a dragon who has tangled with Thor and Iron Man, but who is also a skilled sorcerer who can take human form. This relatively minor ability has made him a much more versatile comic-book villain than most of Marvel’s other dragons, since he’s not stuck at the giant size that makes him such a threat out in the open.
Ending the issue in human form, and ready to murder the team of heavy hitters who interrupted his rest, Sadurang’s version of A Quiet Place is the perfect way to build up the true nature of this villain, who is becoming increasingly relevant to the Marvel Universe. Sadurang’s physical threat is clear, but his ability to hold an entire city hostage, forcing them to live in silence just so he can get some sleep, displays both his personal power and his view of the world and the mortals who inhabit it. Plenty of villains have holed up in random locations over Marvel history, but few turn entire cities into makeshift horror films by sheer dint of their presence.
If anyone has the brute strength to beat down Sadurang, it’s this quartet of Savage Avengers, but in taking the time and effort to illustrate how fully this powerful figure was able to take over a modern-day city, forcing its inhabitants to live in fear of making a sound, Duggan imbues Sadurang with a sense of dread that is likely to be increasingly important as Marvel continues to hint at a worldwide “Clash of Dragons” coming in 2021. It’s easy to write dragons as just big, mean monsters with a cool look, but in asking how a creature of such incredible power would actually affect the world around him, Savage Avengers continues to turn what could have been a one-note villain into one of the most interesting comic antagonists of 2020.
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