Restoring the Sky Tyrant: Dragons as Contemporary Villains

Þa se wyrm onwoc, wroht wæs geniwad

— “When the dragon awoke, trouble flared again” (Beowulf, trans. Seamus Heaney, line 2287)

If you grew up on fantasy stories, dragons (in this post’s case, European dragons, the nasty, fire-belching, gold-hoarding, knight-slaying kind) were probably some of the first monsters you were introduced to as a child. They’re probably some of the first monsters you fell in love with as well (I still want to grow up to be Maleficent). It’s hard to imagine a time when dragons were a novel concept; thousands of years of elaboration and adaptation upon the draconic have produced dragons that are variously awe-inspiring, cute & cuddly, and totally metal, but rarely are they frightening or repulsive anymore (the Gaping Dragon from Dark Souls was probably the last dragon that made me recoil in horror). If we’re willing to get a little creative, though, dragons could be scary again. Let’s consider the fundamental features of these beasts, and what those features say about their role as antagonists.

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Kamen Rider Calliope Myth 1:8

Kamen Rider Calliope

Part 8, Myth 1


Calliope was so proud of her quip that it took her a few seconds to remember she should be checking on the student whose roommate had nearly ended up with automatic A’s for the semester. By the time she had reached the body of the Ektroma, she noticed it starting to swell up in unnerving ways, persuading her to pick up the bystander and vacate the area as quickly as possible. They had barely passed beyond the field of Pandora’s Box when the remains of the Ektroma exploded behind them, just the right distance to be out of danger, but still be aesthetically pleasing as Calliope walked cooly away, carrying the fainted student in her arms.

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