Savage Squad 6 has felt like something of a cheesy action romp that would be made in the 1980s for a while now, but with the third issue the book seems to have left any effort of realism and sensibility behind to embrace wild and violent action scenes that make little sense when you take a moment to stop and think about such things.
The Savages, a group of six young female soldiers, have been sent deep into the irradiated remains of Pripyat in order to steal nuclear material from the ruins of the Chernobyl reactor. They’re part of the a resistance group fighting back against an evil regime that has slaughtered its way across the globe in a bid for planetary conquest, and the nuclear material is needed for one last desperate bid for victory. As such, when the team comes under attack from giant mutant wolves (and I do mean kaiju size giant!) they will do everything it takes to complete the mission. Everything except use tactics or work smart.
The series has been pretty fun so far, with the book giving you a chance to get to know the members of the team before they start getting picked off one by one. They group of heroes is very much the kind of varied and over-the-top bunch of personalities that you’d find in a shooter game or a corny action flick. They’re all bad-asses, and they’re all out to fuck some shit up. Unfortunately, it looks like none of them are particularly smart, as the third issue makes some pretty big errors that makes the Savages kind of unforgivable.
With the monster wolves attacking the team at the end of the last issue, this one is focused solely on survival. It’s a run and gun issue where we’re barely given a chance to slow down, and it’s all action all the time. Whilst that in itself isn’t a bad thing, there are things that happen here that either don’t really make much sense, or are downright awful decisions on the character’s parts. Spoilers ahead for the stuff that absolutely dropped this issue an entire star.
One of the team gets injured pretty early on in the issue, a severe wound in their shoulder that’s causing them to bleed out, and makes them unable to use that arm. The team medic wants to patch them up, and even has all of the equipment to do so, but the team leader literally slaps the medical supplies out of her hand and tells her no. As a result, that injured team member bleeds out to the point of being unable to move, and has to be left to die. Great leadership skills and decision making from the leader there letting someone die for no reason. Another thing that feels like a ‘that happened for no reason’ decision is another of the team, someone uninjured and able to fight on, throws herself at the wolves and detonates a pile of grenades, blowing herself up. It’s a suicide play that comes out of nowhere and makes little sense.
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The third member of the team to go down this issue is grabbed by one of the giant wolves. They’re grabbed when their back is turned, but the way in which the art depicts this moment has their body hanging in the wolf’s jaws, with their arms behind them clamped in the creatures fangs. The physics of how this worked don’t quite seem to line up, and the character would have had to have had her arms sticking out backwards for the wolf to grab her like it does here, which again, makes very little sense.
In this one issue the team is wiped off the board, leaving our lone protagonist to face the horrors of this situation on their own. This was kind of expected from the beginning, as these kinds of stories tend to come down to the lone survivor trope. But this issue seemed so desperate to get to that point that it killed off everyone else so quickly and indiscriminately that a lot of it feels rushed and ridiculous, and that it’s only being done so that the final issue can be a solo one. It’s a shame, as I was enjoying this series up to this point, but this issue just doesn’t do much for me, and kind of takes away a lot of the goodwill that the previous instalments had built up.
Despite my gripes with the story direction, the art on the issue is decent, with Dalts Dalton, and Geraldo Filho, creating some impressive visuals. The book’s cover depicts a number of the giant mutant wolves scaling a building to get at the Savages, and that’s the kind of stuff you get inside the book too. There’s action all over the place here, so expect lots of monster wolves, explosions, blood, and gunfire across the pages. It looks great, even if it’s very much flash over substance at this point.
Savage Squad 6 has felt like its been focusing on a very small part of a much more interesting world since the very first issue. The fight against a fascist, murderous regime by a desperate female led revolution sounds like a great story, and one I’d love to see. Instead, we’ve been given a story that focuses on the wrong part of that world, on a story that doesn’t feel half as interesting, and has gotten to the point where it almost feels like it could be a parody. With one issue left, I’m almost nervous to see how it all ends.
Savage Squad 6 #3 is out now from Dark Horse.