There’s no mention of it on the cover or in the editorial, in fact they’re still offering subscriptions to the comic, and there are just two little ‘The End’ captions attached to the final panels of each strip, but this is the last issue of Jurassic Park. As discussed last time, new publisher Manga Publishing knew this was going to be the end, so it’s rather misleading of editor Dick Hanson not to edit out the subscriptions!
We finish what was originally Dark Horse International’s series with another 40-page issue, although the inner 32 pages are of pretty poor stock compared to previous issues. Story wise the back up is the second half of last month’s Xenozoic Tales story, but first we’ve the final part of the four-issue American comic mini-series ‘Raptors Attack’, which is what is referred to on the cover. As mentioned before this meant nothing to us UK readers because we didn’t know how the comic series was broken up over there, so this just confused us.
The first chapter of the mini-series was called Rush! but the following three had much more imaginative titles that changed to match the evolving storyline. Back in #14 we had Animals/Men, then Animals/Gods and this issue’s final story is Gods/Men as the now wild Velociraptors once more become the stars of the strip. Written by Steve Englehart who has been responsible for every chapter since the adaptation ended, it’s again pencilled by Chaz Truog and inked by Paul Fricke, letters are by new addition Brad K. Joyce (Marvel What The..?!, The Ren & Stimpy Show, The Sensational She-Hulk) and Renée Witterstaetter colours and edits.
For a final chapter there’s more background character information than actual plot. There are quite a few pages given over to the history between Robert Muldoon and the late George Lawala, how even though they were rivals Lawala saved his life so Robert will avenge his. I don’t see the point in this at this late stage and it’s all rather predictable. Much better are the pages given over to developing our dinosaur characters Alf, Betty and Cecilia, mainly through a lengthy dream sequence as they finally sleep in peace away from us apes.
Clearly we’re getting a translated version of the information their mother passed on to them, she correctly compared the humans behind Jurassic Park to their ancient ancestors, although on Isla Nublar she’d never have seen an actual ape to form a vision in her head to pass on to her hatchlings. However, it’s not far fetched to think there could be some kind of genetic memory there. Whether that was the intention of the writer or whether it was an oversight I don’t know.
The resting ‘raptors (only three of them left now) continue to dream about being captured and losing their family, reminding them that humans are their enemy. We get more chances to see them acting as regular wild animals too, drinking, playing and basically living and enjoying life. Then one of the tribal men from last issue has survived and finds his gods, who are tempted to eat him as they did the rest, although he’s making such strange movements they begin to feel uneasy and take off instead.
“They’re so alien, so different from us — maybe they are gods — because it’s sure that we’re only men…!”Dr Alan Grant
He was trying to warn the ‘raptors of the humans nearby, our main characters, and how they were in the area to hunt his gods. Drs Ellie Satler, Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm have joined Muldoon as he hunts, the three of them making it very clear they are not there to kill. There are local villagers tagging along to help and Muldoon comes across as a bit of a racist, thankfully called out on it by Alan though. I really don’t like this version of the game warden character from the film and novel. Much more entertaining, as always, is Ian.
Still flirting with Ellie, despite Alan being right there, it’s clear it’s meant in good jest and his continual talking annoys Muldoon which is a bonus. Yes I still have a bee in my bonnet over the return of Muldoon and I’ve already gone into the ridiculousness of his survival. Here, it’s also explained that the reason the ‘raptors already had a family of adolescents was because they were able to escape their cage in Jurassic Park, find a secluded spot to lay their eggs away from the humans before… going back inside their cage?!
Clearly this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It could easily have been avoided by having a larger gap between the end of the movie and the beginning of the comic’s continuation instead of picking things up only three days later (back in #6). The whole series hinges on these animals so it’s annoying to read this so-called explanation, it kind of ruins the whole set up. It’s ill-conceived and reads as a lazy way of getting the action going. Add in Muldoon’s survival and this official sequel is contradicting the movie it’s based on more and more.
Shoving these inconsistencies to the back of my mind, the race towards this particular story’s climax is exciting! They track the ‘raptors to a part of the jungle separated from the humans by a long rope bridge. Muldoon is stopped from sniping them from afar by the locals, which attracts the attention of the dinosaurs. They sprint across the bridge to attack, coming face to face first of all with an unarmed Ellie.
Due to Ellen and Alan’s capture alongside the dinosaurs in previous issues and being forced to tend to Celia’s wounds, they’ve formed some form of cautious bond with these creatures. Indeed, we’ve seen Celia stop her siblings from killing them. But it looks like Alf and Betty no longer care about this, they’ve suffered enough at the hands of the apes. In the first of the two pages below I particularly like the ‘raptor on the bottom left, it’s a classic pose from the films and gets across their ferocity.
Then the unthinkable happens.
This genuinely shocked me. I half expected Muldoon to fire at this point despite currently being attacked and restrained by the villagers and it was still sad to see one of them fall, despite the fact they were about to attack. To see who actually did the firing was the shocking part! This went against everything Alan stands for, everything he was trying to achieve. But he had no choice, it was either Betty or Ellie.
This was always the dilemma in the Jurassic franchise, the danger of these wild animals against the need to preserve them, to understand they’re just acting naturally, to nurture their instincts and let them be themselves. But of course, a little bit of Chaos Theory always got in the way and made it more exciting for us. In the end Muldoon is subdued by the villagers and the ‘raptors are poised to attack again, no longer in any mood to discern friendly human from foe. But the villagers and their strange movements jump in front of them to kneel before their gods.
With the death of their sister, the confusion over friend and foe and now these strange people Alf and Celia decide to take off. There are only two of them now. They know they’re the only ones but the world is a big place, so they run across the bridge, chew at its ropes to collapse it and head off in search of more of their kind. The last word is left to Alan Grant.
In America readers got another mini-series and an annual before a short-lived ongoing monthly, altogether another 14 stories which we never got here. In fact, it wasn’t until I was researching the comic’s origins for the blog that I discovered there had been any more after this. Back in the 90s it was a couple of months before I realised the comic had officially finished, what with it having taken a lengthy break before between #10 and #11 and of course the Christmas season kept me busy.
When I eventually realised the next issue was overdue I went back and checked and of course there was no date for the next issue, but as discussed above there wasn’t really any finality either. But I have to say I ended up really liking this ending, with the three ‘raptors out in the wild they could pop up anywhere in the world. Who knew what chaos could be sowed from having extinct creatures back in the world. In fact, 24 years later this was how Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ended.
Before the series is over there’s the small matter of what caused the future cataclysm in Mark Shultz’s Xenozoic Tales: History Lesson, written and drawn by him and coloured for Jurassic Park readers by Christine Courtier. It was renamed Cadillacs and Dinosaurs for these final issues (although a story has been chosen without dinosaurs!) because the cartoon based on Mark’s comics had begun in the UK, but these are the original comic strips, so the blurb on the cover is somewhat misleading. So, do we get our answers as promised last month? Annoyingly, no.
My annoyance isn’t Mark’s fault though. This was an early story of his, meant to drop hints not offer an answer, it was this comic’s editor who decided to use it as a finale and hype it up for Jurassic Park readers last time. As a result of this the reader can feel short changed.
Hannah discovers a shell of an atomic bomb in the secret library within the catacombs and we are led to believe this is what caused the world to basically end. This is also what some of those present believe. However, researching the books it then transpires the world was on the cusp of nuclear war when the cataclysm happened, so it was a separate event (thus no straight answer). Then the library descends into chaos in a way that’s scarily prophetic of where we find ourselves in the world right now.
Hannah and most of those present know the bomb is just a shell. It’s been dismantled and emptied, they know it didn’t cause the cataclysm because of facts in the books. However, there are a band of people who don’t care about facts and instead believe the bomb itself is ‘evil’ and should be destroyed, even if that means taking the library and the entirety of human history with it, along with everything they could learn about the actual cataclysm and how they can overcome it.
In other stories in this enjoyable back up hints were given that the cataclysm was caused by climate change, not least thanks to Hannah’s disgust at Jack’s garage of old cars. These mechanical relics may have been converted by jack to run on dino doo-doo but they were referred to as being partly responsible for the destruction in the first place.
Back to this issue and Hannah’s frustration is palpable and I can imagine how this would’ve read in the early days of the original comic s that’s how I’m reviewing it, instead of the disappointing climax it was never intended to be. She pulls a gun on one of the workers and demands to be taken to the sluice gate where she’s able to stop the flood and save about half the books from being completely destroyed, almost losing her life in the process.
Read in the correct order this would’ve solidified Jack and Hannah’s friendship (and perhaps more) for Mark’s original readers, Jack’s concern for Hannah is written as being something of a surprise to him. Then, as you can see on this final page he doesn’t understand the importance of the books, putting the two characters back to being at odds with one another as their relationship developed. Unfortunately we never got to enjoy this aspect of Xenozoic Tales because all our chapters were out of order.
So that’s it for the UK’s version of Jurassic Park. Back in the 90s the movie’s comic sequel was left hanging yet at the same time it felt like the perfect end. Taking these characters and dinosaurs so far outside of the confines of the movies had enthralled me and they’ve held up really well. Yes, I didn’t like the contradictions to the original film and so sadly by the end the strip simply can’t fit in with the movie sequels anymore.
Steve Englehart had been given free rein to do whatever he wanted, which is surprising given the high profile nature of the new franchise and the fact Amblin knew Michael Crichton was writing The Lost World novel. Clearly, having two sequels being written at the same time was never going to work. The Jurassic Park comic was a big deal to me as a teen and I’ve really enjoyed reliving it 28 years later.
The final back page finally announced the release of the movie on VHS to buy, which I’d very gratefully receive for Christmas in a special fossil box (you can see an image of it in the original introductory post), and let’s not forget you could also buy it on Laserdisc! How 90s. As I close this final issue it’s reassuring to know that I’m not done yet with Jurassic Park on the blog. This isn’t the end, only a bit of a pause.
There was another, short-run UK Jurassic Park comic a few years later that I only recently discovered, so watch out for that in 2023 and while I can’t see me being able to collect the rest of Xenozoic Tales, thankfully the same isn’t true of the original sequel. IDW reprinted the series in graphic novel form over a decade ago and I’ve finally been able to collect the ones I needed to finish the story. I haven’t read them yet, I will when I’m covering them but I’m sure they’ll make an excellent addition to the blog. They’d better, given what they cost!
“Spared no expense.”