Dragon*Con is right around the corner, so I thought I would provide some appropriate material. Last year our pocket guides arrived 55 days out, but this year we still haven’t gotten them. I wanted to be writing up my preview today (well, a couple of weeks ago, actually), but instead you’re getting this.
Dragons are pretty cool. They may be relegated to symbols of dorkdom these days, but I think anybody speaking honestly would admit that they’re still pretty kickass.
I am not as into dragons as I once was, largely thanks to a lack of dragon-oriented material that isn’t aimed at the LARPing set; but there was a time when I drew them (like the one above - circa 1993), painted them, read about them and aspired to pretend to fight them via pencil, paper and dice. That last one never really worked out. Everybody I ever tried to play Dungeons & Dragons with was just like me – we all wanted to play as awesome ranger/wizard/paladin dark elves with intelligent swords, tons of potions and unlimited hit points. There were several problems with this: 1)nobody wanted to invest the amount of time it would take to build that kind of character, 2)a party consisting of four of the same character would be boring as shit, 3)you can’t do that, anyway.
So I think I attempted D&D three or four times and that was it. But I still thought dragons were cool.
The origin of anybody’s dragon interest is pretty easy to nail down. Every kid likes dinosaurs, right? Well how rad is it when you find out that there are rich dinosaurs who breathe fucking fire? And have mustaches? The kids who have a problem with the fact that these awesome new dinosaurs (dragons) are fictional are the ones who go on to play football and have sex with girls and are called “jocks”. The ones who don’t get beat up by the jocks, but go on to start large companies that hire the jocks to clean toilets. These folks start off being called “nerds” but later will be referred to as “Sir”.
But we’re not here to discuss America’s caste system. We’re here to discuss the most awesome dragons ever.
There are a few lame dragons out there - Puff, Pete’s, that giant dog thing from The Neverending Story – but most are at the very least awesome. The following is a list of the best of the best, the cream of the fiery crop!
10 - The Savage Dragon
He’s a Chicago cop, he doesn’t breathe fire, he doesn’t have wings. He is also lacking a treasure hoard. On top of all that, he publicly endorsed Barack Obama. How the hell could Erik Larsen’s comic book creation possibly make the awesome dragons list? Because he has kicked more ass than all of the other dragons on this list combined. Aliens, cyborgs, robots, mafia guys, you name it; the big green guy has beat the snot out of ‘em. And honestly, not being able to fly or breathe fire just makes him that much cooler – he doesn’t even need that bullshit to ruin your day.
9 - Fin Fang Foom
A.K.A. He Whose Limbs Shatter Mountains and Whose Back Scrapes the Sun. Seriously. Fin Fang Foom was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to be Marvel Comics’ Chinese equivalent of Godzilla. Sort of. Foom has harassed most of the heroes of the Marvel universe at one time or another, has reformed and then turned evil again and has even fought the Justice League of America. It was revealed at one point that he is actually an alien, which makes him much scarier. One time his physical form was completely destroyed and he made a new body out of thousands of lizards and a teenage thief. He also rocks a sweet mustache and knows kung fu.
8 - Draco (true name unpronounceable by the human tongue)
Dennis Quaid’s costar from Dragonheart may not be the coolest dragon ever, but he is voiced by Sean Connery. What more do you need? (that’s cheap writer code for “I really don’t have much to say about this subject, I just wanted it on my list” – you see it a lot on the internet)
7 - Takhisis
Also known as Nilat the Corruptor, Mai-Tat, Lady Chaos and many others – including Tii’Mhut; a derivative of Tiamat. This five-headed, multi-hued dragon is the goddess of evil of the world Krynn in the Dragonlance novels. She was always stirring up shit with the other gods of Krynn and trying to take the world for herself. Her bullshit got so out of hand at one point that a member of her own pantheon betrayed her and supported the opposing god of good – Paladine – in giving up his own powers to strip Takhisis of hers; turning The Dark Queen mortal so that an elf can slay her. Actually, if Takhisis hadn’t been taken out by a fucking elf she would probably be further up the list.
6 - Maleficent
The Mistress of All Evil may not technically be a dragon, but she’s all the more impressive for being one of us lesser humans and making such a scary, kickass dragon anyway. She is black and purple, breathes green fire and is one of the most instantly recognizable representations of evil this side of red horns and a pitchfork. People the world over know that this is one of Disney’s most powerful and legitimately threatening Villains, and she is usually depicted as the leader and originator of Disney Villainy.
5 - Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Okay, so Steamboat isn’t a dragon at all, but he did kick Ric Flair’s ass regularly for around twenty years and he does breathe fire on occasion. He is also the only main event professional wrestler to have remained a babyface throughout his entire career. Also, he once went by the name “Dick Blood” (only a minor variation on his real name – Richard Blood) and if that isn’t hardcore I don’t know what is.
4 - King Ghidorah
Also known as The King of Terror or Monster Zero (one of the most kickass names ever), this space dragon whoops Godzilla’s ass on a regular basis. Did you catch what I just said? Space dragon. He often beats Godzilla single-handed and he doesn’t even have hands! Godzilla almost always has to call up Mothra or some other monster buddy to take this guy on. Eat it, Rodan!
3 - Smaug the Magnificent
This scaly bastard started off in a book and was cool enough because he wanted to eat hobbits. What makes him one of the best is the fact that he went on to be animated Bakshi-style in one of the most memorable sequences I’ve ever seen in a feature-length cartoon. His assault on Esgaroth is creepy and suspenseful, one of the most effective scenes of Bakshi’s interpretation of Tolkien’s classic. Smaug was also one of the first recorded wearers of “bling”, having coated his belly (well, all but one spot) with gold and gems to create a protective armor. He was also known as Smaug the Golden, but only when he was at the Middle Earth Dragons’ Players’ Ball.
2 - Lockheed
Yeah, Lockheed may be tiny, but he is a totally awesome dragon. He’s Kitty Pryde’s constant friend and companion and between his ties to the X-Men, Excalibur, S.W.O.R.D., the Pet Avengers and more is competing with Wolverine for most memberships in various Marvel superhero groups. Like Fin Fang Foom he is an alien, but not all that creepy about it. He broke away from his hive-minded species to pursue adventures on earth and has been a key element in saving the planet’s bacon more than once. And he fucks with Pete Wisdom all the time, so that’s pretty great.
1 - Vermithrax Pejorative
Not only does Dragonslayer’s dragon have the coolest name of any on this list, it is also the scariest. Vermithrax was so badass and scary that Disney had to create Touchstone for future releases of this sort. I remember seeing this movie on HBO when I was a kid and having to watch the dragon parts from between my fingers. I believe this movie also provided one of my first glimpses of bare cinematic titties, and for that I thank it.
Until next time, stay creepy