Enter the dragons of comics, from Shenron and Kaido to Little Dragon


Dragons are quite common in comics, whether in Western superhero tales or Japanese manga, and are very often some of the most powerful characters around.

Happy Year Of The Dragon! As befitting a mythical creature with its legendary status, the dragon naturally comes up quite often in pop culture, and comic books are no exception.

Dragons are quite common both Western and Eastern comics, be it superhero tales or Japanese manga, and are very often some of the most powerful or important characters in the story (though there are some exceptions). Here are some of our favourite ones.

Great Red Dragon (Bone)

Jeff Smith’s Bone is a comic book that was first released in 1991, and ran for about 55 issues until 2004. The Great Red Dragon is a guardian of The Valley that lead character Fone Bone and his cousin Smiley end up in while helping their other cousin, the greedy and selfish Phoncible P. “Phoney” Bone, who was being run out of their home, Boneville.

The dragon is an ancient, kindly creature who not only acts as a sort of guardian angel to Fone Bone, but also plays a major part in the overall series.

It doesn’t look like it here, but the Great Red Dragon is usually quite kind towards Fone Bone. — Photo: Image ComicsIt doesn’t look like it here, but the Great Red Dragon is usually quite kind towards Fone Bone. — Photo: Image Comics

The Eisner award-winning Bone revolves around the three cartoon-like “Bones”, who end up in the fantasy land called The Valley, which the Lord of the Locusts and his Rat Creatures are trying to take over. They then meet all sorts of monsters and characters, including a mysterious and beautiful girl named Thorn and her grandmother, and of course, the Great Red Dragon.

Kaido (One Piece)

In the long-running manga One Piece, Kaido is a pirate “Emperor” who was considered one of the most powerful pirates in the world. Having eaten the Mythical Zoan Devil Fruit, Kaido is able to transform into the form of a giant, serpentine dragon that can fly, is incredibly strong, and can even shoot an energy beam from his mouth.

It eventually took the awakening of Luffy’s Gomu Gomu devil fruit into a mythical fruit of its own to defeat Kaido, a feat that promoted Luffy to the status of Emperor as well.

Kaido’s dragon form was a truly formidable foe. — Photo: ShueishaKaido’s dragon form was a truly formidable foe. — Photo: Shueisha

There’s also another Dragon in the series – Luffy’s father Monkey D. Dragon is also the son of Marines veteran Monkey D. Garp, and is the leader of the Revolutionary Army, which is now finally making its move in the final arc of the manga.

Little Dragon (Oriental Heroes)

Little Dragon Wong (Wong Xiu Long in Cantonese) is one of the three lead characters in Hong Kong comics legend Tony Wong’s wuxia epic Oriental Heroes (“Long Fu Mun” in Cantonese, or ‘Dragon Tiger Gate’), along with his younger half-brother Tiger Wong (Wong Xiu Fu) and Gold Dragon (Sek Hak Long).

Little Dragon is one of the three main characters of the iconic Hong Kong comic Oriental Heroes. — Photos: FilepicsLittle Dragon is one of the three main characters of the iconic Hong Kong comic Oriental Heroes. — Photos: Filepics

As a child, Little Dragon’s mother died of a broken heart after learning that his father had secretly married Tiger’s mother. Growing up in an orphanage, he eventually joined a triad, and even crossed paths with Tiger once. Although he eventually became close to Tiger, he never forgave his brother’s parents for what they did to his mother.

Little Dragon is a master martial artist, skilled in fighting with his hands and palms as well as with a staff.

Lockheed (X-Men)

Is Lockheed really a dragon? Well, this longtime friend and companion to Kitty Pryde does look like a pint-sized purple dragon, so I guess he counts as one.

Lockheed, whom Kitty named after the SR-71 Lockheed Blackbird jet plane, is actually a member of an alien race called “The Flock”. Kitty met him when they were both captured by The Brood, and they not only became good friends, but he also became an integral part of the X-Men.

Kitty named Lockheed after the iconic SR-71 Blackbird jet. — Photo: Marvel ComicsKitty named Lockheed after the iconic SR-71 Blackbird jet. — Photo: Marvel Comics

Besides the X-Men, Lockheed has even been part of super-teams like Excalibur, the Agents of SWORD, and, of course, the Pet Avengers!

There are also other dragons in the Marvel universe, of course, and Marvel.com also recently published a handy graphic of the more notable ones, which you can see below.

Photo: Marvel.comPhoto: Marvel.com

Savage Dragon

He’s big, he’s green, he’s super strong, and he has a large fin on his head. Kurr Dragon, aka The Savage Dragon, is one of the most recognisable Image Comics superheroes around, and is probably second only to Spawn in terms of his popularity.

Found in a burning field, suffering from amnesia, Savage Dragon later joined the police force to fight against an organisation called the Vicious Circle and its army of “superfreaks”.

Savage Dragon is the lead hero of one of Image Comics’ longest running comics. — Photo: Image ComicsSavage Dragon is the lead hero of one of Image Comics’ longest running comics. — Photo: Image Comics

It was only in 2005 that creator Erik Larsen decided to reveal Dragon’s origin story, that he used to be an evil tyrant leader of a nomadic race of aliens. He had wanted to wipe out humankind and claim Earth as his race’s new planet, but two of his scientists conspired to erase his memory and exiled him to Earth.

Savage Dragon is one of only two titles from Image’s original lineup in 1992 that is still being published (the other one is Spawn, obviously). It is also the only one that is still written and drawn by its creator, making it the longest tenure a writer and artist has had on a single ongoing Western comic book.

Shenron (Dragon Ball)

Funnily enough, the lead characters of Dragon Ball aren’t even ‘dragons’. The titular ‘Dragon Ball’ refers to the seven orbs that were introduced in the beginning of the manga.

In case you haven’t heard of Dragon Ball before (where have you been all this while and why are you reading a column about comics then?), the long-running franchise began as a manga by Akira Toriyama back in 1984, and revolves around lead character Son Goku, who is inspired by Sun Wukong of Journey To The West.

In the beginning, a child Goku meets Bulma, who convinces him to go on a quest to gather the seven Dragon Balls, a set of orbs that summons the wish-granting dragon Shenron (ah there’s the dragon, finally!).

Shenron may not be the manga's lead character, but he IS the 'dragon' in 'Dragon Ball'. — Photo: ShueishaShenron may not be the manga's lead character, but he IS the 'dragon' in 'Dragon Ball'. — Photo: Shueisha

Shenron is a giant dragon that only appears when all seven Dragon Balls are gathered in one place, and he can grant one wish to whomever summons him that way.

There are several rules to these wishes though – the wish cannot be granted if its power is greater than Shenron’s, and he can only bring a person back to life once, and even then, only if that person did not die of natural causes. Once the wishes are granted, the balls are turned into stone and scattered across the planet.

We’ll be talking more about Dragon Ball in a future column in conjunction with its 40th anniversary, so watch this space!

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Marvel Comics , manga , Dragon Ball , One Piece

   

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