Throughout cinema, there have been some films that critics and film scholars have filed under the “White Savior” trope. This is defined as a narrative “in which a white central character rescues non-white (often less prominent) characters from unfortunate circumstances.” The different films that have been labeled under this description include some of the most well received and popular films in cinema history. Films such as Dances with Wolves, Avatar, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Last Samauri among so many others.
It was The Last Samauri that proved to be the inspiration for creators Eric Nguyen and Scott Burman’s recent Dark Horse Comics series, entitled, appropriately enough, White Savior. In this four-issue mini-series, Nguyen and Burman lay waste to the whole idea of the “white savior,” holding nothing back in this hilarious satire of the genre. And it all starts, with a story…
The Legend of Nathan Garin
A grandfather tells his grandson about an epic tale that had been passed on for many generations. Of how a heroic “white savior” named Nathan Garin, had appeared out of nowhere to lead the people of Inoki against their bitter enemies, the Okuno Clan. Just as the prophecy had foretold. Because of this prophecy, the people were sure that their savior would lead them to a great victory. Until he was killed by a multitude of arrows and their army was laid wasted. Opps! Someone must have misread that prophecy. Can we get a copy of that prophecy, please?
History is Important
It was a tale that Todd Parker had heard many times. The motto being “don’t expect some random white dude to save the day for you.” But his grandfather loved to share the tale. He believed it was important for Todd to learn their history. Just because his parents had named him Todd, he was still oriental. History is important. You never know when it will come in handy.
Todd to the Rescue
After humoring his grandfather, Todd went off on his bike to join his friend Neal for lunch. But not before taking his grandfather’s food order. Double Stuff Oreo Cookies, the large package. The highly respected breakfast of champions.
Along the way to the restaurant, Todd came across a young oriental woman being accosted by three guys. While it might have been smarter to keep pedaling, Todd decided to intervene. Pretty brave for a guy with no combat skills. But what he DID have was a pretty stout bikers’ helmet. A few whacks with his brain bucket and the thugs ran off. He checked on the young lady and she thanked him but told Todd she was alright.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
It was only after she left that Todd realized that his wallet was missing. Not only that, but he saw a car with the three thugs AND their supposed victim driving away. No good deed goes unpunished. At least he still had his bike, and his fighting helmet. Upon arriving at the restaurant, Todd told Neal what had happened. Neal was a trainer at a gym. A substantially muscled black man who wondered aloud why Todd ever TRULY believed that he had over came three thugs in a fight. He had “hurt his hand signing a LA Fitness application.”
Regardless, Neal queried whether Todd would recognize the girl if he saw her again. He wasn’t sure. As far as he knew, she was just a girl. She could be anyone. Even the waitress across the way. But as Todd looked in her direction, an epiphany struck him. It WAS the waitress. The girl whom he saved, and no doubt stole his wallet, was serving tables on the other side of the room. Neal was skeptical. What were the odds that his mystery assailant just happened to work at the restaurant they went to for lunch?
The Chase is On
Despite Neal’s warning to think about what Todd was about to do, he stormed across the room and confronted the waitress. She initially claimed that she didn’t understand English. Highly unlikely since Todd had just heard her tell the customers what was on the menu. But as Todd pressed on, Neal once again reminded him that accosting a young lady in a restaurant was not a good look. Todd considered this and turned to apologize but his erstwhile waitress had made a break for it. Which meant Todd was going to have to pursue her. Darn it.
A Leap in Time and Place
As his mystery girl scrambled from the restaurant, Todd did his best to follow, vaulting over rails in an attempt to do as she was doing. Although she was making it look a lot easier than he was. However, after one particularly challenging leap, Todd’s world began to change. As in your time twisted leap into the past. One minute he’s in pursuit of his missing wallet, and the next, he lands in Feudal Japan. Let’s see Dr. Sam Beckett do THAT!
Falling into Battle
Unfortunately for Todd, he fell (literally) into the middle of a bloody battle between the Okuno and the Omura Clan. A battle where no quarters were asked for or given. (Probably because quarters were not around in Feudal Japan.) Not to mention that he fell in a manner that was unkind to his family jewels and he loudly proclaimed that fact. Nothing will stop a bloodbath faster than someone complaining about their male appendages being abused. But only for a second.
A New Mortal Enemy
As Todd tried to get his bearings, the battle raged on. Never had Todd seen such carnage, such wanton disrespect for keeping one’s innards inside. He continued to stumble about just as the leader of the Omura clan was getting ready to lose his head, literally. But fate intervened as did Todd’s lack of balance as he stumbled into Okuno Clan leader Kenzo Mitsuhide, preventing his killing stroke. Needless to say, the warrior was not happy about the interference. He proclaimed the clumsy stranger his new mortal enemy. Although, with an attitude like that, Todd was at the back of a long line of mortal enemies.
But before Kenzo could do anything to his newest enemy, his aide told him that they must withdraw. Perhaps it was the rain of arrows coming down that hastened that decision. As for Todd, he was stuck in the open as the deadly projectiles came down. Despite the warning of the recently saved Yoshihiro Moromiri, Todd could do little but hope he didn’t die. For whatever reason, good fortune smiled down upon him. He suffered only a nick on the hand. Which didn’t prevent our young hero from fainting at the sight of his own blood. So, let’s get this straight. Spilled intestines were ok, but a paper cut put him down? Our HERO!
Things Come into Focus
Todd awoke to find himself in a hot tub being bathed by Japanese beauties. His newfound friend Yoshihiro was there, pleased to see that he had finally awoken. After Todd was dressed, he was given a tour of the Inoki Village. Yoshihiro tried to get Todd to explain how he came to be involved in the battle. Needless to say, Todd’s explanations were not easy for Yoshihiro to understand, but he still was grateful for Todd’s assistance.
These People Were Screwed
As the tour continued, Todd was only half-listening. A skill he had picked up from listening to his grandfather tell him the tale of… wait a minute. Inoki, Omura, Okuna…no wonder these names seemed familiar. As they walked, Todd wondered if another part of the tale was true. This was answered as he was introduced to the savior the prophecy’s had foretold: Nathan Garin. Yep. There he was. Bigger than life and twice the ass wipe. These people were screwed.
The very first thing that caught my attention in Eric Nguyen and Scott Burman’s delicious satire of the “White Savior” trope is the dialogue. It is a cross between Mel Brooks and Monty Python and they spared no moment to slide in a comical aside, commentary, or observation. In other words, it was hilarious. At least in my twisted point of view. Mixed with Eric’s artwork (he is pulling double duty), the story just grabbed me by the funny bone and wouldn’t let go. Speaking of the artwork, it takes some doing to portray a bloody Feudal battle while mixing in commentary that screams “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.” I can think of no higher praise.
Through the main character of Todd, they were able to address social tropes, generational gaps, and cultural differences, all with a fun and irreverent tone that just flat out worked. Although, they have set the bar so high with this first issue that keeping that same breakneck pace could prove to be a challenge. One that I am hoping they can maintain. If they can manage it, White Savior could already be on my list for best of 2023. No pressure there Eric and Scott.
Dark Horse Comics White Savior, Issue 1 by Eric Nguyen and Scott Burman is available now where great comics are sold. I recommend checking it out.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.