“White Savior” #2

By | March 3rd, 2023
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

The first issue “White Savior” was a strong opening to the four part miniseries, establishing the look and feel efficiently and entertainingly. But that issue was mostly set up. Now we get into the actual core of the story. Can issue #2 maintain the same momentum? Considering that the first lines on the first page are “So yeah… the guy vomiting in the plants over there. He’s the ‘hero’ of our story,” I feel pretty confident it can.

There will be some spoilers, though mostly kept to a minimum. Hopefully. And attempt will be made. And we’re not just talking the entire core concept of the series this time. There was at least one genuine surprise every couple of pages.

Cover by Eric Nguyen
Written by Eric Nguyen and Scott Burman
Art by Eric Nguyen
Colors by Iwan Joko Triyono
Lettering by Micah Myers

Todd and Maggie (the wallet thief) join forces to help the village of Inoki, before Nathan Garin can lead them into disaster.

The issue picks up right where the last left off, showcasing just how much of a mess the title “White Savior” actually is. It does this in two ways. The first being Garin drunkenly staggarding about the village and barking his nonsensical orders at the military. The second being exposition revealing the brutality of Garin. US Army Captain Nathan Garin made his name in the American Indian Wars, mostly for his sheer brutality. Even had a motto calling for his men to be “more savage than the savages.” But neither particularly dissuades the people of Inoki. When series protagonist Todd goes against Garin’s less-than-strategically-sound plan, he gets dubbed the “Village Idiot.” So he and Maggie, and the woman who stole his wallet in the first issue, decide to take matters into their own hands to save the village. Maggie ends up being a great addition to the story, providing foil to Todd’s more naive charm, but also giving us a second perspective to comment on Garin’s status as hero. One that isn’t the blind praise of the rest of the village.

The series obviously has a clear mission statement: sending up the problematic trope that gave us the title of the book. But right from the beginning, we get a genuine dissection of the trope. Obviously we start with the ridiculousness of it. But then we get a touch of the grimmer, more colonial implications. A major twist at the end connects these two ideas more directly. But that’s also one I’m not going to spoil. Because the last couple pages appear to turn the entire baseline of the story on its head.

The middle of the book also introduces a particularly Rough Rider-y gentleman named “Zedidiah Grant,” who works for the villain, Kenzo Mitsuhide. We don’t know much about him other than he introduced Mitsuhide to forks, which Mitsuhide quickly takes to over chopsticks, because you can’t stab people with chopsticks. Also, captions helpfully inform us that Grant is “a bad guy.”

The book continues to be hilarious. There are more fourth wall breaking caption boxes than the last issue. And the banter between Todd and Maggie is great, providing some of the best moments in the issue. Some of the dialog may be a little too self aware for some readers. Garin brags about how “awesome” he is and Mitsuhide debates Grant on who is “more of a villain.” Maggie does have a monologue that probably didn’t need to be two pages long. But it does involve her claiming to be from a race that selects “snow-colored champions” to tip the balance of justice throughout history. Sure, it’s solely to mess with Todd, but there are a few winks to notable examples of the title trope. It was also my favorite bit in the book. So maybe it did.

And I do agree with the caption boxes. The “post-dumpling dumpling” joke is solid gold and I don’t care if they’re actually gyoza.

The art continues to be great. The characters are expressive, the coloring is vibrant. But what stands out in particular this issue are the layouts. Characters are often outlined by panel gutters. Sometimes the border just bends around a character a little too big for their square. Sometimes a character is overlayed across the entire page, with a thin strip of white surrounding them. Layouts are an often unappreciated part of comic construction. Seeing panel work that matches the kinetic energy of the art is always something special.

Like last issue, the style tends to shift a bit depending on the setting, with Mitsuhide and his men being drawn in a more jagged style. Sometimes this can make the anatomy a bit wonky and distracting, but the distinct color palette of deep blues and purples are much easier to look at. Plus it opens with a great establishing splash page of Grant approaching his castle as it storms. Again, I’m agreeing with the actual caption boxes on the page. The captions are pretty great.

Final Verdict: 9.6 – This issue effectively maintains the momentum from the first issue while adding enough to pushing the story forward an interesting direction.

Chris Cole

Chris Cole lives in a tiny village built around a haunted prison. He is a writer, letterer, and occasional charity Dungeon Master. Follow his ramblings about comics and his TTRPG adventures on Twitter @CcoleWritings.