Tag Archives: John Costanza

JURASSiC PARK #15: ANiMAL iNSTiNTS

Another exciting cover from Michael Golden, right? Shame it has absolutely nothing to do with what’s inside. In fact, Drs Ellie Satler and Alan Grant don’t even see the Velociraptors, none of our regular human characters do, so this is a somewhat misleading choice by editor Dick Hansom to pull readers in. That’s not to say the strip isn’t entertaining, it’s just not Ellie-holding-on-for-dear-life entertaining!

After last issue’s ‘Animals/Men’ story comes Animals/Gods!, as ever written by official sequel scribe Steve Englehart with the same art team as last time I’m very happy to say; Chaz Truog is on pencils, Paul Fricke is inking, letters are by John Costanza with Renée Witterstaetter bringing it all to colourful life as well as being story editor.

We have two completely separate stories happening here, our people becoming reunited while the ‘raptors enjoy life as wild animals again. Things kick off with the dinosaurs hunting down a cheetah. Naturally the big, powerful cat comes off the worst against these new predators but it’s still a thrilling chase. We get four pages of Alf, Betty and Celia living free, ending with them relaxing as they finish off their meal, have a roll about in the sun and simply enjoying time together as a family unit without us humans ruining everything.

They really are the stars this issue, but when we come back Alf starts to become ill, sneezes and collapses. During the human half of the story we find out there’s been a severe flu virus going around and both Alan and Robert Muldoon have come down with it. As Ian Malcom suggests, the Velociraptors aren’t predictable, they aren’t simple free animals (despite the animals thinking this themselves). Interacting with humans, something dinosaurs were never meant to do, will change them.

Ian’s scenes are the most interesting in the other half of the story. I still take issue with Muldoon having survived and his explanation just doesn’t make any sense, completely contradicting what we saw with our own eyes in the film! It’s also rather insulting for the reader to see him up and about perfectly fine, yet have Ian tells us he was laid up in hospital for months on end with his injuries, and he didn’t have a raptor’s jaw squeeze his skull! Anyway, we have to live with this for now and we find out Muldoon knew big game hunter George Lawala, the man whose work started this whole mess back in #7.

What I do enjoy though is any chance Ian Malcolm gets to talk Chaos Theory. If you haven’t read Michael Crichton’s original novel I highly recommend it for the pages and pages of monologues we get from Ian describing the intricacies of Chaos and his predictions for the park. It’s fascinating stuff. The movie did a great job of distilling these into short little scenes to get the essence across and here we get something of a cross between the two extremes. It’s clear Steve has gone back to the original source material when writing this.

That’s basically the entirety of the human story this time, to give some context to the story of the ‘raptors, the latter of which takes up a whopping 19 of the 27 pages of Jurassic Park strip. As I said, they really are the stars this time. We catch up with them as a local indigenous tribe watches these unknown animals succumb to their illness from a safe distance, believing them to be their gods taken animal form. Celia realises they’re being watched and attacks but despite the anger in her eyes she’s too weak to take them all on.

She finds a sacrificed animal and tries to drag it to her siblings but struggles to do so and collapses. We get a few pages of the tribe gathering around their gods, feeding them elixirs, bringing idols or worship, generally looking after them and taking part in religious chants to impart strength. A long time passes and slowly they return to full strength. The tribe gather tentatively but it doesn’t quite go as they’d thought.

Everyone is slaughtered, but not eaten. Humans are now the enemy after what they did to them in the park. It’s as simple as that. The chapter concludes with the Velociraptors disappearing off into the jungle once more, one simple caption underneath: ‘It’s good to be free and wild again…’

While I do enjoy seeing the ‘raptors portrayed in this way I have to say this is probably the weakest of the strips so far. Not enough happens. The main bulk of the story could’ve been told in a fraction of the pages without losing any of its excitement and the human half is simply a (albeit good) speech by Ian and that’s about it. It feels like a stop-gap, like the comic was taking a beat while it puts the pieces into place for the next story. Transformers would sometimes do this for example and you’d know what it was up to. But there’s one key difference here, the next issue is the last!

At the end of the strip is the line, ‘Next: The Thrilling Climax!’. As a teen I just thought it meant the end of this particular story before the next one kicked off, so this issue’s breather felt like it was gearing up for an awesome finale next time that would lead on to further adventures. However, with hindsight,I now know this meant the end of the comic. But only for UK readers, which I’ll get into next time.

It’s sad to think this real time read through is almost over

While not designed as the penultimate story, it was for us and in this regard it’s lacking. Previous back up strip Age of Reptiles told a better story in a fraction of the pages in any one issue, which is a hard thing for me to say because I’ve been such a fan of the main strip up until the moment they brought back Muldoon, and now it feels like it’s padding itself out, treading water. Maybe it’ll make sense next month and read better as a result, but as it stands this was a fun strip but not worth the 26 pages it took to tell it and would’ve worked much better as a shorter, additional back up.

Moving on and after an advert for the soon-to-be-relaunched Manga Mania (now that the new publisher had gotten their hands into it properly) we move on to Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Xenozoic Tales by another name. History Lesson is one of those rare things, a quite lengthy story by creator Mark Shultz (coloured for Jurassic Park by Christine Courtier), lengthy enough for it to be split into two parts over these final two issues. Taken from #4 of Mark’s original comic it takes place before some of the strips featured already, which is another strange choice by the UK editor.

In fact this picks up directly from the story in #7 and didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time. It made it seem like they’d had all these other adventures before realising Gorgostamos was missing. I now know better but in the days before having the internet to research it just felt off. Obviously it wasn’t Mark’s fault. What is also not his fault is the fact nothing much of consequence happens here either. Perhaps when both halves are read altogether the story will be much more interesting, but it’s cut off here before it gets going.

After finding Gorgostamos’ remains Tenrec and Hannah debate whether the Grith killed him in order to save them, and Hannah once again wants to know more (remember, this happened long before last month’s story). Tenrec tells her of catacombs underneath the city where a library has been found, guarded by keepers of knowledge who don’t want outsiders let in. They fear that with knowledge of how to rebuild humans will just cause another cataclysm. Hannah insists on seeing it and the ten pages are about Tenrec meeting with allies to get them inside. Then, just as they do get in the story frustratingly stops for now.

The only really exciting part is the caption beneath the final panel! As a teen I looked forward to finding out the mystery once and for all but now, knowing the previous strips were actually later chapters in the story and the mystery wasn’t solved in them, I don’t think we’re going to get as many answers as this suggests, which actually makes me all the more intrigued as to what the caption means. If it gives at least a hint of what actually happened (or maybe the answer without the characters knowing) then at least that would explain why it was used as the final story for the comic.

I may have been none the wiser but it’s clear the new Manga Publishing knew the end was nigh, even if they were still offering subscriptions on the contents page. It’s sad to think this real time read through is almost over. This is the first issue I’ve been disappointed with as a whole, but 15 issues in that’s not bad at all. It feels like no time since I was reviewing that very first issue and thinking back the comic has changed a lot in a relatively short amount of time. Let’s hope for a spectacular send off. Well, a send off for the time being anyway. I’ll elaborate in #16’s review on Thursday 3rd November 2022.

JURASSiC PARK #14: CARTOON CARNiVORES

It’s all change this issue as Dark Horse International has now become Manga Publishing. The UK arm of Dark Horse had gone out of business but the success of its Manga Mania comic and the rapidly growing interest in the UK for the art form saw a purchase of the titles and a rebranding across them all. (The company changing hands could account for the delay between #10 and #11.) I’d assumed all their comics were cancelled in 1994 but Manga Mania (at #15) would carry on all the way through to #39. Jurassic Park wouldn’t be so lucky.

But at least this temporary reprieve enabled our comic to reach a decent ending point in #16 instead of just stopping on a cliffhanger (I’m looking at you, Havoc!). Michael Golden’s cover would’ve been better suited to last month’s issue but it’s still a striking image, even if it’s somewhat disappointing to lose that distinctive left-side border. You’ll notice ‘Cadillacs and Dinosaurs’ is mentioned, is this a new back up strip? Not quite, as you’ll see below. Finally, the mysterious free gift mentioned last issue ended up being temporary tattoos, long lost to the mists of time.

The contents page retains its atmospheric design and still offers up subscriptions so the plan must’ve been (initially at least) to carry the comic on for some time to come. In reality, the boast of “Now With Extra Pages” on the cover meant we were up to 40 pages which, while a good increase over the previous three issues, is only four more than we had in the first ten. It does mean we now get a full chapter of the American story per issue though, with the aforementioned back up bringing up the rear.

There’s now a whopping 26 pages of Jurassic Park to enjoy but it’s still listed using the name of the US mini-series comic it was taken from, rather than the name of the chapter itself. This was confusing because we were unaware of the mini-series’ name, so instead to the uniformed (like me) it looked like laziness on the part of UK editor Dick Hansom, like he didn’t check what the strip he was printing was called. As you’ll see over the course of this and the next two issues, Animals/Men was the beginning of a trilogy of stories, the title of each a variation on this theme.

It feels very much like the Jurassic Park movie had been given a cartoon makeover in the same way Ghostbusters had with The Real Ghostbusters

As you can see the art team has changed. Steve Englehart is still the writer of this official sequel, John Costanza is still letterer and Renée Witterstaetter remains as colourist and story editor. However, joining them are penciller Chaz ‘Atlas’ Truog (Green Lantern Corps, Animal Man, Coyote) and inker Paul Fricke (The Fly, El Diablo, Secret Origins). At the time I was a little disappointed in the change from the more scratchy, hard-edged artwork but nowadays I absolutely love this!

Even Renée’s colouring appears to have changed to suit the new style, boldly coloured backgrounds highlighting each frame. The cartoonier style put me off initially as a teenager but it did grow on me. Today, it feels very much like the Jurassic Park movie had been given a cartoon makeover in the same way Ghostbusters had with The Real Ghostbusters. It’s great. It’s a lot more animated and dynamic, and as you can see having better defined facial features means our characters now actually look like cartoon versions of the actors.

Drs Ellie and Alan Grant attempt to escape from Rafael’s compound deep in the Columbian jungle but accidentally set off a hidden alarm, in response to which Rafael immediately unleashes his supposedly trained Velociraptors. Trying to escape their reach up a tree, a vine Alan clings to is grabbed by one of the ‘raptors and suddenly he finds himself flat on his back, exposed and an easy target. That is, until Rafael catches up.

During the attack we find out Alan and Ellie have named the dinosaurs. The alpha is called Alf, the beta is Betty and the injured ‘raptor who is still within her cage is Celia. If this rings a bell you’re not alone. Much later in Jurassic World, released 21 years after this comic, Owen Grady named his four Velociraptors after the second to fifth letters of the alphabet too (Blue, Charlie, Delta, Echo, with Owen himself as the ‘alpha’). Was the movie inspired by this comic, or was it just a coincidence? Either option is likely.

Having game warden Robert Muldoon alive and well is just stupid

Ellie and Alan are ordered to return and look after the injured Celia, who continues to let Ellie do so, knowing she saved her life. But our doctors think that if she wasn’t restrained they’d be on the menu. They’re very aware of how they’ve romanticised the dinosaurs’ place in nature, but they’re still killers. This leads on to a dark scene in which one of Rafael’s men suggests they take it in turns raping Ellie to relieve their boredom and he’s immediately shot and killed by his boss, telling his men to feed him to one of the ‘raptors, so he clearly wants his creatures to maintain their taste for human flesh. But why?

Then, after all the action, tension and interesting story developments the strip unfortunately takes a turn for the absurd.

Even as a teenage reader I didn’t find this to be the thrill it was hyped as on the cover and my opinion hasn’t changed since. Having game warden Robert Muldoon alive and well is just stupid. Remember that “clever girl” scene in the movie? He looks awfully healthy after that, doesn’t he? What elaborate explanation is given for him surviving a Velociraptor jumping on top of him and apparently eating his head? He raised them. I hate this. Not only is it ridiculous to think he survived but if he did it completely ruins that whole scene in the movie.

According to #10 Ian Malcolm had to spend months in a hospital after his injuries but Muldoon gets the kind of return we’d expect from a superhero comic that finds some trick to retcon a character’s demise. I remember feeling let down by this but thankfully it isn’t dwelled upon beyond this one page (for this issue anyway) so we can get back to the meat of the story which is much, much better.


“It seems ‘raptors can remember a kindness”

Steve Englehart, writer Animals/Men

Celia’s training commences but she isn’t cooperating. She responds to commands but doesn’t go for the head of the human-like hay dummies like the others, instead biting an arm or leg, never going for the kill. The ever-paranoid Rafael thinks it’s a trick but in reality we’ll find out the reason soon enough. Meanwhile the government’s leader is planning to announce new indictments against him in the murder of dozens of law enforcement officials, and the next day as the judges leave the courthouse a van pulls up and out of the doors rush Alf and Betty!

During the attack an electrical cable is damaged which ends up zapping one of them. As the two animals looks quizzically at the electrical sparks they come to realise something and they run off. Rafael’s men can’t take control, somehow the ‘raptors realised the collars were no longer being controlled, the broken power lines causing interference. Free of their painful, torturous shocks they immediately run back to free Celia, taking out with relish the men who previously had all that power over them.

They kick in the large metal doors holding their sister and in no time at all everything has changed. Rafael had thought he was in control, but during the execution of his own plan something unpredictable happened and within minutes all three of the dinosaurs are free to roam and hunt, killing Rafael and the remainder of his men as they unsuccessfully try to shock them into submission once more.  Another perfect example for Ian Malcolm’s Chaos Theory.

We see Celia wince from the shocks, but the others’ collars no longer work well enough to stop them. When Alan and Ellie come out to see what’s happening and make their own escape they’re cornered by the three ‘raptors. Alf and Betty prepare to pounce, after all these two humans are just another part of all this, but in a surprising moment Celia steps up to stop her sisters, even though she isn’t the alpha herself.

I remember this aspect of the story. Celia stopping her sisters from attacking Alan and Ellie would resurface and emphasised (once again) how the Jurassic franchise treated its dinosaurs as real animals rather than simple movie monsters. Was this also why she wouldn’t ‘kill’ the hay dummies? Does she no longer see all humans in general as prey? Either way, it’s clear the ‘raptors saw Rafael as a means to an end, to get out of the compound to freedom. The sly looks at each other and the development of their own characters over previous issues now clear with hindsight.

This was even before the Tyrannosaurus rex got off Isla Nublar to run amok through San Diego looking for his baby

The story ends on a superb cliffhanger as they take off into the jungle; three Velociraptor out in the wild, on the loose! Of course, this is now the conclusion to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the starting point for the final film in the series, Dominion, but this was published in 1994! As a teenager this was even before the Tyrannosaurus rex got off Isla Nublar to run amok through San Diego looking for his baby in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, so I can’t emphasis enough how excited I was for the next issue back then.

Despite the unnecessary return of Muldoon this was a hugely enjoyable adventure strip for Jurassic Park and one of the best so far, reading like the proper sequel to the original film it was intended as. It’s certainly a worthy follow up, continuing to build upon its story month after month and now, with the new art style bringing a freshness, a larger sense of excitement and better representations of the characters, I’m looking forward to seeing where it all leads.

After a huge chunk of dino action the issue is rounded off with Foundling, our nine-page back up Cadillacs and Dinosaurs strip. A quick glance at the first page will show regular blog readers this is actually Xenozoic Tales (second back up in six issues from #4) under a new name. The Cadillacs and Dinosaurs cartoon series was based on creator/writer/artist Mark Shultz’s cult comic and had just started broadcasting on the Cartoon Network in the UK, so while the strips were still the same, the cover and contents page changed the name to try to entice fans of the cartoon.

Christine Courtier is back on colouring duties and while I miss Steve White’s colours, in an episode told mainly in flashback Christine’s darker, more atmospheric palette perfectly suits the story. Again Jurassic Park is selective about which stories from the original comic series to reproduce (page count could be a major reason) and in this case we jump forward to #6 of Xenozoic Tales, missing out a handful of tales from the last time we saw Tenrec and Hannah.


“I could feel his hot breath on my neck, then he galloped past me as if I wasn’t even there.”

Hannah Dundee

The story is actually a flashback within a flashback at points. Hannah is telling Tenrec about Maia Abrelatas, a lady whose son went missing years before when he was only three-years-old. She’d begged the governors to renew the search but they’d refused as Tenrec apparently just looked on. Within this flashback we flash back again to the time when the boy went missing out the back of her home. Later they’d found hyena tracks and blood and concluded he’d been dragged inland, where it was too dangerous for humans in this future world populated by dinosaurs.

Back to the original flashback and Hannah went out to track him after Maia saw him at her window. The governors dismissed this claim but Hannah found a child’s footprints and tracked them. She was almost about to turn back after a day when she eventually found him. Unable to speak, the boy instead drew using stones, each letter inside a square. This instantly reminded Hannah (and me) of the Grith using Scrabble tiles to communicate with Tenrec. Just like them the young lad can understand her but can’t speak.

The dinosaur that charged her was just a distraction (she does comment how this was strange for that animal) because she then lost the boy in the think forest, but spotted him latter with the Grith far off in the distance. Continuing to track them to the entrance of a cave the scene below is terrifically designed by Mark, full of atmosphere and thrills. The story ends with Hannah confronting Tenrec, his association with the Grith and apparent nonchalant attitude earlier leading her to the conclusion he knew about the boy all along.

It turns out the Grith saved the boy after he was mauled by the hyenas and raised him, but now they can’t let him return home because he knows too much about them, even thinks like them. However, he’s at that age where his curiosity is putting him in a dangerous position as he tries to find out more about his origins, so the only solution is for them to take him far away from his mother and for Tenrec to continue the lie. What started out as another adventure strip ends on this heartbreaking reveal, a complete surprise.

Then, so it doesn’t end on too much of a downer the last two panels reveal all that horror faced by Hannah was actually the Grith trying to make sure she found her way back home, all finished off with Tenrec being his usual casual self, asking about food. I’m sure any child buying the comic after watching the cartoon would’ve got a bit of a shock at the tone and the mature storytelling. Not sure what they would’ve made of this, but as a Jurassic Park comic reader this is a great return to the unique and original Xenozoic Tales, no matter what name the editor gives it.

The last three pages are all advertisements, beginning with the latest issue of Manga Mania which I mentioned earlier and the first issue of a new comic based on the Street Fighter II videogame which was all the rage. I saw this and thought that couldn’t have lasted long but I was wrong, Manga Publishing in the UK released 16 issues altogether, the same as Jurassic Park in the end. I know which one I thought deserved to run longer though.

Finally for this month there was big news for fans of the movie on the back page.

I love the way the Velociraptor‘s eye is made to look like the amber that was so important to the film’s plot. Even though I visited our local rental store every single Saturday (because it was closed on Sundays so you had the tape for twice as long for the same price) I never rented Jurassic Park. The reason was simple, I knew I was getting it for Christmas to own so I wanted to wait for my own copy before seeing it again for the first time since the cinema. So I waited (im)patiently instead.

While getting a much lengthier main strip was exciting I still prefer the comic’s three-strip format. To this day my favourite issues belong in that first handful after the sequel began in #6. But with hindsight, knowing we’ve only two issues left I’m very glad it changed so we could get three more full stories before the rug was pulled. The next of those stories, inside Jurassic Park #15 will be reviewed here on the blog on Thursday 6th October 2022.

JURASSiC PARK #13: END OF AN AGE

This would be the final issue of Dark Horse International’s Jurassic Park, but the comic would continue for a few months yet. No, that’s not a contradictory statement, as you’ll find out next month. This is, however, the last time the cover will have that distinctive banner down the left side. What a cover image that is too. On the contents page the credit for John Bolton’s image clarifies it’s “a scene from the classic movie”. A classic just one year after its release? It would be, obviously, but it wasn’t even out on video at this stage!

John’s dramatic image was created for the American Topps Comics’ ongoing monthly, Return to Jurassic Park which had been released after the few initial mini-series, the second of which we were still reading in the UK comic. In fact, this edition saw the conclusion of the first issue in the second mini-series, Raptors Attack and was written by official sequel scribe Steve Englehart, pencilled by Armando Gil, inked by Fred Carillo, lettered by John Costanza and coloured/story edited by Renée Witterstaetter.

Part two of Rush! sees Doctors Alan Grant and Ellie Satler given the unenviable task of looking after the juvenile Velociraptors captured by Columbian drug lord Rafael. Training them via use of electroshock collars (the ‘raptors, not the doctors) the dinosaurs are becoming worn down and sick. Gassed and asleep, our heroes are sent in to examine them, not that Rafael is going to listen to any of their recommendations. As this is taking place the ‘raptor that was previously shot in #11 and saved by Ellie watches on from her cage.

What I particularly liked here was seeing some scenes from the point of view of the animals. The language of the humans is just a load of strange alien noises but she watches intently, trying to work out what’s happening, despite her base instincts. This storytelling technique isn’t used extensively, but enough for us to see their vantage point at specific moments, always treating them as intelligent wild animals instead of movie monsters,  a main theme of the novel and films. They’re individual characters and subject to development in this strip just like the humans. I like this a lot.


“I spent my life looking for tiny pieces of your remains, and now you’re here, in the flesh”

Dr Ellie Satler

Kept separate from her siblings she tries her best to attack Alan and Ellie as they approach her but she’s chained up and unable to make contact. Ellen then chastises her! How dangerous these animals are is always front and centre, and the others still terrify Ellen but after saving this one’s life she’s determined to help it. As she said in that previous issue, given half the chance she’d be torn apart by this creature but it’s still a miracle and she has an obligation to it as a scientist.

As you can see the ‘raptor eventually lets her tend to her wound, remembering she saved her life. From memory this is an important plot point and one the ongoing strip would return to in a key moment, but I won’t get ahead of myself. This, and the following page of the other two dinos preying on and destroying humanoid hay decoys reminds me a lot of the first Jurassic World, which is something else I’ll return to later in the run. But for now the constant training over several weeks seems to be reaping rewards for Rafael.

The ‘raptors are attacking on queue, and when they jump towards Rafael on the other side of their glass dome a simple command has them stop and obediently await their next instruction. But his successes can’t stop his paranoia about competitors and the government closing in on him, despite no evidence of the kind; it’s merely a result of being secluded from the outside world for too long. When local soldiers are spotted searching the jungle he assumes they mean to steal his dinosaurs so he and his men take his newest recruits for a test.

Ordered to attack, they take to their task with relish, dispatching the soldiers one at a time over a few pages. Armando Gil’s trademark use of dynamic angels comes into play here, one perfect example being the panel featuring the jeep trying to run down one of the ‘raptors, almost like its taking place on the top of a hill, the ground rounding towards the dinosaur. He’s just using two perspectives in one panel, one for the humans and one for the animal in the distance but it works to create a dynamic sense of excitement.

It’s clear these two “clever girls” have plans of their own

In the end she jumps on top of the car, making it crash into a tree where she rips the soldiers apart. As you can see the comic goes all in on the blood and guts. These pages are full of it. Yes, it’s tame compared to horror comics or modern action fare, but as a licenced title I was surprised. As a teenager I lapped it up, but looking at it now it feels strange when the films use suggestion and good direction to avoid gore, letting our imaginations fill in the blanks which is much more effective.

With the soldiers dispatched they make a leap for Rafael, but he shouts “Stop!” and they do just that! Are they fully trained after all? Is this man about to become one of the most dangerous criminals the world has seen? Not if a look shared between these two “clever girls” (to quote the movie) is anything to go by. This final panel tells the reader a lot more than I initially caught on to when reading this in 1994, but knowing what transpired next it’s clear these two have plans of their own.

This was such fun, especially when read upon its original release before any of the movie sequels took the dinosaurs off Isla Nublar, beginning with San Diego in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and then of course we had Owen Grady’s training and bonding with Blue and the rest of the Velociraptors in Jurassic World. This was groundbreaking at the time and still fun to read today, if somewhat diluted thanks to those later stories on the big screen.

The ‘Next’ caption is very uninspiring I have to say. More interesting is the fact there’s a free gift in the next issue because I have no recollection of this whatsoever. So you’ll be finding out what that was at the same time as me. For now we move on to the second half of the comic and a thrilling but bittersweet strip. Age of Reptiles has been building to this moment for eight issues now and it was a thrill to read this, but sad to get to the end and say goodbye to these silent comic stars.

But creator/writer/artist Ricardo Delgado makes sure they go out in style.

The drama, the suspense, the wonderful character moments have all been leading to this, but having a final climactic battle between the Tyrannosaurus rex pack and the Deinonycuses wasn’t enough for Delgado, he takes it to another level and sets the finale at sunset in a storm, pouring lashings of atmosphere into an already thrilling strip. Seriously, these final pages need to be seen and I can only show a few select highlights, so if you do see these comics for sale, buy them! This is worth the price of entry.

James’ colours have brought a deeply rich and vibrant world to life, perfectly matching Ricardo’s stunning artwork

After a few pages of already stunning action we get to the spread above. There’s so much to love here. So many little details my eyes pick up anew with every pass. The rain splashing off Long Jaw’s back, the Deinonychuses sinking their teeth deep into Talon as her mouth waters, the depth of the battle with the silhouettes in the background and the sheer scale of the action in the foreground as the four giant T-rex dinosaurs dominate the scene.

James Sinclair’s colours add even more, with a suddenly subdued palette portraying the time of day perfectly. All the way through Age of Reptiles James’ colours have brought a deeply rich and vibrant world to life, perfectly matching Ricardo’s stunning artwork. In fact, James’ colouring helped tell the story just as much as the line work, from the identifying markings on each character to the scene setting vistas and passages of time, culminating in these gorgeous final pages.

The battle feels suitably climactic after all this time and it certainly didn’t disappoint teenage me. With both sides playing to their strengths they always seemed evenly matched, despite being two very different species.  I was always interested to know who’d win in the end and I couldn’t remember this final chapter until I read it for this review. The answer, of course, is that neither side wins. This makes perfect sense in the end, as we’d gotten attached to various characters from both factions.

The pouring rain and the might of the battle on top of the nest is too much for the outcrop to bear. As the lightning strikes I can almost hear the thunder and the rain as the rocks begin to fall. Just as the T-rex pack begins to destroy the nest the ground shakes and everything and everyone hurtles down the cliff, seemingly to their doom. The story skips ahead to the next morning, all is quiet and we initially think that’s the end until one sole survivor breaks free from the rubble.

Long Jaw waits and waits but when no one else climbs out he makes his way through the jungle to the nest. There are always little extra details to catch our attention in Ricardo’s story, such as the huge Brachiosaur who seems to be almost timidly walking by so as not to disturb the T-rex. But Long Jaw’s only concern is getting home to protect the one remaining egg left in the wake of the Deinonychus attack back in #7. At least he can take solace in the fact that is now safe. Until we see the final page, that is.

As he approaches the nest a bird lands on his back and squawks at him. Obviously communicating danger, Long Jaw runs towards the nest and on the penultimate page the look of surprise on his face is almost comical as he finds a strange little creature tucking into a tasty treat. There have been sequels to this told by Ricardo over the years but none had been created by the time of Jurassic Park’s printing so it’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to the Age of Reptiles. It’s been a thrill every single issue, sometimes more so than the Jurassic Park strips.

The caption at the bottom of the final page to Age of Reptiles tells us Cadillac and Dinosaurs begins next month, but if this sounds vaguely familiar that’s because it’s the Cartoon Network’s name for their adaptation of Xenozoic Tales, which we had as a second back up strip in issues #6 to #9, so it’s not a beginning, just a renamed continuation which I’m very happy about.

On the back page is an advert for a Street Fighter II comic based on the video game, which still feels rather random today. There’s no Dark Horse logo, but there is a Manga one. This’ll be an important detail for Jurassic Park from next month. You’ll see what I mean when we get there. The review of the next issue, which sees some welcome changes to the comic, will be here from Tuesday 8th September 2022. See you then.