Tag Archives: Walter Simonson

JURASSiC PARK #10: BETRAYALS, TAILS & GOLDBLUM

Another exciting Gil Kane cover that bares absolutely no resemblance to anything that occurs inside, or any other issue or even the movie. It’s the second of two covers from the American preview comic, the previous one shown off last month. That Topps Comics preview contained two small strips set before the events of the movie and the first was underwhelming to say the least. The second, which is the headline story inside this issue, is far better and concentrates on the man we all loved to hate, the person behind all the chaos, Denis Nedry.

Portrayed by Wayne Knight in the film, Gil produces a great likeness here while not getting so hung up on it that he ends up expressionless. Betrayal is written by Walter Simonson and tells the tale of Nedry’s arrival on Isla Nublar to work on the computer systems that would be so instrumental in the creation and eventual downfall of the park; networking of computers, park systems, zoological simulations and crowd control measures all make up his complicated job. Dick Giordano (Detective Comics, The Sandman, Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man) joins Jurassic Park to ink Gil’s pencils, John Workman returns as letterer, as does Renée Witterstaetter as colourist (and Story Editor for this and the sequel story later in the issue).

Some fans online have mistakenly said there’s an error in Nedry’s and Hammond’s relationship in the film. Hammond‘s favourite phrase was, “Spared no expense” and yet Nedry is constantly saying he’s underpaid, his boss unwilling to negotiate. Here, Simonson picks up on this plot thread from the novel that the film touched upon (and those fans missed) and elaborates on it. Nedry’s bid was very high, no expense was spared, but it was made before he knew the secret of what the attractions on the island actually are. Once he finds out he thinks he underbid, but Hammond is a man who honours his word and expects others to do the same.

Realising the fortune Jurassic Park is going to make Hammond, Nedry constantly tries to spin that his work is going to be far more complicated than first estimated, but really it’s not true and he’s just pushing for more money. Hammond doesn’t budge. His computer experts perfectly relayed to Nedry what was required, the fact the animals are dinosaurs doesn’t change anything. Six months in however, Nedry begins to realise extra money will never be forthcoming from his computer work and in a moment of clarity, when he overhears Henry Wu discussing the embryo laboratory, he clicks that’s where the money is, in the dinosaurs, and their embryos are tiny, perfect for smuggling off the island.

The story ends with his first attempt at reaching out to Ingen‘s competitors but for me the real meat of the story is seeing the beginning of the relationship between these two characters. Also, unlike the previous prequel story, Genesis, foreshadowing isn’t shoved in our faces, instead it just concentrates on telling a good story based around a key plot point in the movie and the characters at its heart. Hammond comes across as a bit too cantankerous at points compared to Richard Attenborough‘s charming portrayal, but in the end it’s an interesting little prequel and a nice addition to the comic.

There’s no Xenozoic Tales this issue so all three remaining strips get more room to breath, although I do miss Tenrec and Hannah. They’ll be back, though. Alongside the eight-page Betrayal and the ten-page Dark Cargo for a meaty 18 pages of Jurassic Park, is Ricardo Delgado‘s stunning-as-always Age of Reptiles which makes up 11 pages, sandwiched in between the other strips. It starts off serenely with a large Ankylosaurus enjoying some bark from a monstrously sized tree that dwarfs even this huge dinosaur. But then they hear a noise and step to the side to have a look around the tree; I think the way this simple gesture is drawn is just so full of character.

I was beginning to feel sorry for the peaceful beast who now found themselves outnumbered three-to-one against our favourite predatory rascals, the Deinonychuses. As you can see from what happens on the next page I needn’t have worried. This is enough to make the smaller dinos run off, beaten with one swipe of a tail. I just love this big action shot though, especially since the build up was so peaceful, it’s such a surprise! We get another little respite when we check in on the Tyrannosaurus rex pack as Long Jaw arrives back and nuzzles the noses of his mate Talon and their baby, with the other male Blue Back and his mate Climber looking on.

The whole pack is angry and soon Long Jaw sees why. The large circular nest is empty of all its eggs except for a few pieces of broken shell and one last intact egg, tucked in next to Talon. We then get a double-page spread and a really brilliant moment as he looks down at evidence of who robbed their nest and, even though a T-rex‘s face shouldn’t be that emotive, we can tell he knows exactly who were responsible. The way Ricardo lays this out with his face in between the footprint and those same feet now on a nearby beach is just genius.

Look very closely at that big panel in the middle of the page where we see the Deinonychuses arrive on the beach, where they’ve taken all the eggs they’ve stolen from various other creatures. Have a look up into the cliffs and, amongst the silhouettes of the craggy terrain you should spot the shapes of a head and a tail. I’ll admit I don’t think I ever noticed this the first time around back in the 90s because it surprised me when I spotted them now. It’s so subtle, I love it. It also leads on to the climax of this issue’s chunk of story.

After filling their bellies the three thieves start making their way up a very narrow path along one of those cliff faces and come face-to-face with our two female Tyrannosaurs. The size and power of these dinosaurs in comparison to the smaller ones is perfectly captured here and I particularly like the overhead view showing just how trapped they really are. There’s even a tiny bird looking on. Little details like this amongst all the action and drama is a trademark of Ricardo’s and one of the reasons I love his work so much.

The leader of the Deinonychuses turns and barks orders at the others, one of whom turns and runs at the T-rex coming up behind them, the story cutting off for this issue as they leap into the air, claws bared. Age of Reptiles was never intended to be told in this way; it was created as a graphic novel to be read from beginning to end in one sitting. But it just works so well, editor Dick Hansom doing a great job of knowing when to make the edits to make each piece feel like a complete chapter. It’s a great cliffhanger. (Yes, that was very much an intended pun.) However, it’s a particularly frustrating ending this time, which I’ll explain after the third and final strip.


“Phooey on your ‘Chaos’! We’ve got boats, planes, radar…!”
Renny

“So does the war on drugs.”
Dr Ian Malcolm


Jurassic Park: Dark Cargo continues with Dr Ellie Satler, Dr Alan Grant and the juvenile Velociraptors transported from boat to a huge air transport and during the flight our human heroes eventually awaken to find their cage surrounded by the hissing, clicking raptors. One tries to pick the lock of the cage just as they did to their own, but Alan’s broken belt buckle from his failed attempt, still caught in the lock, stops them. They run off, the pilot noticing shifting weight so George Lawala, the first in a long line of greedy humans who would underestimate the intelligence of the dinosaurs, goes to investigate. He frees Alan and Ellie and gives them shotguns, the chapter ending with them all searching the plane (it’s so big, with so many places to hide, because he didn’t know what exactly he was going to be bringing back).

That’s the main plot out of the way. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, it certainly is, it’s just there are two individual pages elsewhere in the story involving subplots that really stood out to me. The first involves the army’s continuing attempts to clean up the mess of the island’s failed park. Having tracked Alan and Ellie to the beach they’re at a loss as to where they are. For me it’s great to see the new character, INgen‘s Dr Fischer back again (he first appeared in #6) and I’m still hoping we get to see more development of him in the future. But it’s the person on the next page that elicited the highest level of excitement when I read this back in 1994.

Of course, nowadays we’ve seen Dr Ian Malcolm, so memorably played by Jeff Goldblum, in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and he’ll be returning again in the sixth film, Jurassic World: Dominion later this year at the time of writing. But at the time of this comic his return was a complete surprise! If the comic had a proper editorial and Next Issue promos I’m sure this would’ve been mentioned before it happened, so for once I was glad of the minimalist approach. It meant the surprise was kept until this very moment. He just appears in this one sequence as he recovers from his injuries from the movie but it’s exciting to see the character in this first official sequel, and he’s perfectly drawn!

Also mentioned here is ‘The United States Central American Command Center’, or ‘CENTAMCOM’, the comic’s own take on the real world’s CENTCOM (the same name except for the word “American”) and the resources they have in their search. It brings a larger scope to the background story that’s slowly developing while the main plot focusses on our two main characters, and I always enjoyed these aspects of the films, always wishing they’d delve deeper into the inner workings of INgen and the larger world within which the stories were set. Then it all ends with the biggest shock of all. Under the final panel we’re unceremoniously told #11 would be on sale on Thursday 9th June. What?

This current issue went on sale on Tuesday 29th March 1994, so suddenly my favourite monthly comic was telling me I had to wait ten weeks for the next chapters to all these stories. Can you now understand why I was so frustrated earlier? The use of the JP logo on the cover instead of the previous title graphic (I love the logo but preferred the previous one for the comic) was just the first big change to come. Ironically, this issue felt once again like the first ones I bought, settling back into a great format after a couple of months of trying to fit too much into its 36 pages. But that would all change, along with its publisher! But I’ll go into that next time because at this point originally I hadn’t a clue why there was such a long wait. You’ll just have to wait to find out too.

I’ll finish off with a look at the very-90s adverts this issue contains. There’s a teeny tiny liddle widdle radio which would’ve been right up my alley back then and it isn’t dissimilar to that given to Bond by Q in Skyfall many years later. The back cover has an advert for Dark Horse International‘s Manga Mania as the animation style started to take hold here, mainly thanks to Akira (with a hint of things to come for Jurassic Park on the bottom-left of its cover) and there’s a convention to match. Finally, those highly expensive phone-in competition lines which, when you think about it, should never have been in the pages of comics such as this (or the magazine Commodore Format I was collecting at the time which had plenty of them) when so many young readers could be tricked into spending a fortune on their parents’ phone bills. (No, I didn’t.)

So, with a clifftop battle in full swing and a pack of deadly Velociraptors on board a cargo plane we have to have patience and take a breather from the comic for a while. It’s difficult enough to not read ahead but this is going to be ridiculous! I’ll just have to cope somehow, then the next Jurassic Park review will be here from (big sigh) Thursday 9th June 2020, just one day before the release of the next movie! Oh, you see now I’m all excited again!

JURASSiC PARK #9: SPARED NO EXPENSE

This review was due on 22nd February, click here to find out about the delay. More catch-ups to come this week.

The cover for issue nine of Dark Horse International‘s Jurassic Park is a strange beast, showing what appears to be Dr Alan Grant killing a Tyrannosaurus rex! Drawn by Gil Kane it’s completely uncharacteristic not only of Alan but for the comic too, which so far has stayed true to the book and movie. Seeing one of our heroes with a massive gun taking down one of the animals like a clichéd action hero, while a second T-rex comes up behind has nothing to do with Jurassic Park!

The cover is taken from the US comic series’ preview issue which contained two small prequel strips. It had two different covers, neither of which reflected in any way anything that happened within the stories (a pet peeve of mine). They were also seemingly drawn long before the artists even knew what the script for the movie contained. A bizarre thing to begin with then, even more so to choose it for the UK comic when so many other more suitable ones were available in the US series by now. But the real news was those prequel strips had arrived.

In fact there are no less than four strips this month, but with no extra pages some of our regulars have a little less room to breathe. Things kick off with the eight-page prequel story Genesis which shows us the moment ill-fated lawyer Donald Gennaro is shown the secret heartbeat (as John Hammond describes it here) behind the island, which up to this moment Donald thought was simply a luxurious tropical adventure park. Much of the movie adaptation team are back including writer Walter Simonson, Gil is pencilling, Renée Witterstaetter is on colours, John Workman‘s speech balloons are back and they’re joined by new-to-JP inker Mike de Carlo (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Legion of Super Heroes, Animaniacs).

Ground is being broken for Jurassic Park and Gennaro is there for the first of his many visits. Set several years before the movie there’s obviously going to be a distinct lack of dinosaurs for the most part, but this is all about the background to the story, which already had such a solid grounding thanks to Michael Crichton‘s original novel and from which writer Walter is choosing individual scenes that he thinks could have happened. There is however a baby T-rex and some lovely foreboding imagery, such as the use of an excavator’s clamp digging a deep trench beside the dirt road. It’s clear what this represents to the reader. A nice touch.

Hammond takes Gennaro to a small cabin and shows him some old monster movies, full of stop-motion dinosaurs and the like (a simple trick to get them into the comic), and gets really excited as he explains how these thrilled audiences and the advances in technology have made them more realistic and thus more exciting. Gennaro doesn’t care and soon the two men are on their way to the famous hatchery where Dr Henry Wu has summoned them to see the birth of InGen‘s very first dinosaur! It’s a tiny T-rex but Gennaro is still unimpressed.

He’s a numbers man, he wants to see the final product, the things that are going to get people spending money on over-priced tickets to get here. While that much is in keeping with the movie character, I still feel he would’ve had some form of awe towards the first living, breathing dinosaur baby in millions of years! The fact he’s actually disgusted by it seems a bit too much. For me there are also too many instances of movie dialogue being used. It’s meant to come across as clever foreshadowing, but with the amount that’s used it just feels forced and unoriginal.

Because of the overuse of this dialogue for all three characters these final scenes come off as plain silly. Gennaro saying he wouldn’t walk out of a men’s room to see the T-rex is an oddly specific thing for someone to say, and of course it’s only written here because of how he’d memorably meet his fate in the film. Perhaps without all the other movie dialogue (and especially without Hammond’s retort!) it would’ve been a nice touch to end on. All-in-all, it’s a strange little strip. It adds nothing to the Jurassic Park story and does a bit of a disservice to the characters involved.

The war is on.

Much better is the next chapter of Age of Reptiles. The ongoing Jurassic Park sequel is still in here but 11 pages of Ricardo Delgado‘s incredible creation is next up, breaking the comic up a little. After the cliffhanger last issue there are no prizes for guessing the pack of Deinonycuses are down another member. After one of their friends has his head bitten off and his body dragged back into the water we get a funny moment of the fish (which distracted him in the first place) wriggling its way across the rocks and plopping back into the lake and safety.

The two remaining members of the group, leader Dark Eye and Quetzal are spending their day stalking a giant T-rex called Long Jaw, the same one we got acquainted with last time. What are they hoping to find out? That’s for another episode. This time however, they witness from afar the ‘rex challenging the leader of a herd of Triceratops, each one beautifully and individually coloured by James Sinclair. The leader of the herd isn’t backing down and roars at the ‘rex, the giant predator remaining silent, the small bird on his nose responding instead.

However, as you can see from the second photo above, after many cries from his mate the male Triceratops takes a look at the Tyrannosaur‘s slowly opening mouth and decides to heed her warnings, leaving a miffed T-rex behind in a moment that did make me laugh. It was a fight for the sake of a fight, it was never about predator and prey, but that panel with the little squiggly line above Long Jaw’s head depicting his annoyance is a great comedy moment after a few pages of tense build up.

We rejoin our two smaller dinosaurs as they return to their nest only to find that while they’ve been following one of the Tyrannosaurs, Blue Back (who they originally ran into back in #6 when all this began) took advantage of their absence and has killed everyone else in their pack in revenge for the theft of his family’s eggs in #7. Once he sees the shocked look on their faces he simply drops the final body and leaps across the chasm in an echo of their escape from him, disappearing into the jungle. The war is on.

Once again Ricardo’s pacing is superb and his art is gorgeous, with James’ colours the perfect accompaniment. There’s action, an interesting story, individual characters and some genuinely funny humour. It was always a highlight of each issue and was the first strip I’d read every month. While it was originally released as a book I prefer getting little chunks of it at a time. It highlights the tension and obviously makes it last longer.

Every creature here is so full of character but where did I get those wonderful names from if there are no written words in the strip? Well, included in this issue is a bonus Cast of Characters page from the book. It would’ve been good to have had this alongside the first chapter but it’s better late than never. Also, there appear to be some interesting new characters to come! I can’t remember them so I’m excited to see where they fit in with everything I do recall. Exciting times ahead.

Our regular Jurassic Park strip has been cut down to only six pages but we can’t really complain when we’ve already had an addition prequel making a total of 14 pages for our title strip. Our regular sequel team return for the first (little) chunk of Dark Cargo; writer Steve Englehart, penciller Armando Gil, inker Dell Barras, letterer John Costanza and colourist/Story Editor Renée Witterstaetter. Confusingly, the story is called ‘Raptor – Part Four’ on the contents page because Dark Cargo was the second issue in the original American Topps Comics ‘Raptor’ mini-series, and the first (‘Aftershocks‘) was split across the three previous UK issues. This confusing decision to list the strip after the US comic’s individual series rather than the actual strips would continue all the way to the final issue.

Doctors Ellie Satler and Alan Grant awake locked in a cage on a cargo boat with big game hunter George Lawala in charge. The juvenile Velociraptors have been locked up separately right next to them, already wide awake and alert to everything going on around them. This is key (no pun intended for what I’m about to describe), as we see the ‘raptors in the background of nearly every panel of the humans talking, watching what they’re doing. Alan realises his belt is the one with the buckle he’s used as a substitute knife before on digs and perfect to pick the lock, before Ellie notices something happening in the other cage.

We also see the dinosaurs hissing and clicking at each other, Alan deducing they’re discussing them and how to escape. I can remember pieces of what’s to come and it’s definitely a story centred around the intelligence and learning capabilities of these juvenile creatures, and their instincts and observations of the various humans around them. I’m looking forward to reading it again after so long with a fresh set of eyes, especially after enjoying the four movie sequels (so far) which have really delved deep into this.

There’s a funny moment when Alan comments how these brothers and sisters are adolescents, the equivalent of human teenagers and says, “Not quite fully grown but wanting to take on the world! The absolute worst group to let loose!” But before they can warn Lawala of the lock picking he sprays them and the ‘raptors with a sleeping agent and off they all nod until next month. Before they pass out Lawala shows us he’s the atypical Jurassic Park villain (before there was such a thing); he’s never encountered a dinosaur before, but he’s a human, and a man, and thus is far more intelligent and can control them just like any other animal he’s hunted. We just know that’s going to work out well, don’t we?


“The necessary sacrifices were made.”

Fessenden

It may be just one small scene on board the boat, but it’s atmospheric stuff and has plenty for readers to get their teeth into, building excitement for the chapters to come. I’m actually surprised at just how much of this was could’ve been the basis for some of the main stories in the sequels, especially Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World which both did a superb job of building on the themes presented here. It also doesn’t feel like we’re being short-changed with only six pages this month because it’s a perfect little strip in its own right and acts as a prelude to the disaster to come.

Mark Schultz‘s Xenozoic Tales rounds off the issue, once more beautifully coloured by one of my favourite Transformers colourists Steve White (whose current dinosaur artwork needs to be seen) but we only get a measly four pages this time. Obviously, editor Dick Hansom would’ve had this all worked out in advance to give us as much as possible every issue, knowing we’d have extra content this month. As such, there were only four pages left of this particular story to tell, and what four pages they are!

It not only solves the mysteries of that cliffhanger but also grosses us out a little on the way to its conclusion.

So Tenrec returns to Fessenden after the shock cliffhanger and demands a full explanation. The swamp had taken over body, mind and soul of his entire research team, everyone driven to the edge of nervous collapse. But Fessenden was getting incredible results from his experiments; he could solve the food shortage crisis. As you can see above he started performing autopsies on the local dinosaurs and experimenting on his own people, deliberately cutting them off from the outside world so they’d have no choice but to take part. Soon they were thriving in the swamp and even communicating with the animals. But then the physical changes began.

He doesn’t delve deeper, instead making a sudden run for the swamp. For the final page of the story and the comic we’re presented with this below. It not only solves the mysteries of that cliffhanger but also grosses us out a little on the way to its conclusion.

At its centre it’s a typical tale of humans messing with nature and suffering the consequences, so it’s quite appropriate for a Jurassic Park comic. However, it’s told in a very engaging way, is beautifully drawn and I’m so glad Steve was brought on to colour this particular story in the series; his colours take it to a whole other level. Any fans of Mark’s comic really need to hunt these down because these particular coloured versions are exclusive to Jurassic Park.

Despite the rather average headline story this month, this is still one of the best issues yet thanks to just how enjoyable the three ongoing serials have been. It bodes well for next month that’s for sure. The next issue’s review will be here from Tuesday 29th March 2022.

JURASSiC PARK #5: RUSHED ‘RAPTORS

It’s time to bring the movie adaptation of Jurassic Park to a close with the last 12 pages of the final chapter, originally part of issue four of Topps Comics‘ mini-series in the States. For UK readers it was split in two, with new backup strip Xenozoic Tales bringing up the rear. However, due to the decision to keep the comic going the back up gets more pages this time around and there’s a simple explanation.

I’m going to assume last month’s issue was originally going to follow the same formula as the ones that came before, with a full chapter of Jurassic Park and a behind-the-scenes feature. In the US it had been decided new adventures would make up another mini-series, but there was going to be a small gap before it went on sale. To plug this in the UK this last chapter was split over two issues and the back up added to fill out the pages. Makes sense now that there were only four parts to the behind-the-scenes series.

The opening chapter of Xenozoic Tales was quite short in length, so more of the Jurassic Park strip was included last time, but Mark Shultz‘s stories were of varying sizes, so working all of this out to best spread over the two issues has resulted in 14 pages of the movie adaptation climax and 18 for Jack Tenrec and Hannah Dundee. It makes for a strange balance but that would all be corrected next month. More on this below.

The monthly competition page acts as a kind of editorial this month, hyping the conclusion and the new strips to come. A strange choice of prize though, a graphic novel collection of the strip readers have read in this comic. Elsewhere, the lovely gloss paper of the covers makes these adverts for Dark Horse International‘s other mature titles really pop, especially that Aliens one. The more I see these adverts the more I want to add them to my collection at some point, even though I know they too were cut short.

So on to the end of the comic book adaptation of one of the biggest movies ever made. This month it crams in Dr. Ellie Satler‘s escape from the maintenance shed, the survivors reuniting, the Velociraptors infiltrating the visitor centre, the kitchen scene with the kids, the control room scenes, their escape and the final shock ending.  That’s a lot for writer Walter Simonson and story editor Jim Salicrup to squeeze in and unfortunately just like last month it suffers as a result.

Case in point is the famous kitchen scene with Tim and Lex sneaking about and eventually getting one over on the ‘raptors. Tense in the movie, here it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense. For a start the shadow signalling danger is barely noticeable and the reflective surface of the kitchen appliances Lex used in her terrifying encounter in the movie seems to be floating in mid-air!

At least the kids get a few pages for their scene, the rest really are cut down to their bare bones. The idea behind each one is there and is solid, the images are perfectly captured and the big scare moments are all present and correct. But with all the trims it rushes from one of these moments to the next every few panels, meaning their impact is diminished.

So ends the movie adaptation. But hang on, where’s Ray?

At least the dinosaurs themselves look the part as you’ll see below, with penciller Gil Kane‘s and inker George Perez‘s Tyrannosaurus Rex and those ‘raptors looking suitably powerful in their final confrontation, which thankfully is given a bit more room to breathe. Not too sure about the green blood though. You’d have to ask colourist Tom Smith about that one. The random letter jumbles making up the noises of these animals are just plain bizarre, but at least John Workman‘s unique style of breaking the panels still looks the part.

The dramatic angle of the Tyrannosaurus rex is so good it’s used twice over the double-page spread, but they both look so good we’ll forgive the repeating. There’s a lot of powerful red, at least giving the impression of a gory fight to the death despite that sanitised blood colour. But still, somehow it works and it’s the powerful, dramatic scene that’s been missing from so much of these two issues. I particularly like the fact the iconic ‘When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth’ banner from the film is worked in as a caption.

“And behind them, receding into the distance Jurassic Park and the past are swallowed up in the gathering dark. The End.” 

So ends the movie adaptation. But hang on, look at that final panel above. Where’s Ray? Yes, in the film he was killed in the maintenance shed off camera and Ellie discovered his severed arm when she went to reinstate the power grid. But last month Ellie volunteered first in a major change from the film. This means Ray is still alive and yet here he’s nowhere to be seen. It seems the one black character has been completely forgotten about. It’s clear this final chapter was rushed somewhat with it’s art not being as detailed or polished and huge chunks missing to get to the finish line in the page count, but still, just forgetting about a character is a massive oversight.

It’s such a shame it had to end this way because the first three chapters were so good that’s it’s more disappointment than anything else I’m feeling right now.

With no written feature to break up the strips this time we head straight from a natural island off the coast of Costa Rica to a manmade island group off the coast of North America for this month’s Xenozoic Tales, Mammoth Pitfall!

The story comes from the second issue of creator Mark Shultz‘s original series, but three stories which took place between last month’s introduction and this one have been skipped. Not all of the original run was in colour so this might explain the missing stories. It means character development is going to be pretty spotty though, for example last month Jack Tenrec and Hannah Dundee had just met, but here he’s trusting her in her attempts to capture a mammoth for domestication and she knows enough about him to know when he’s in trouble. It’s a shame we can’t appreciate their developing friendship properly but then again it’s only thanks to Jurassic Park we got to read them at all.

Jack knows nature has certain rules and knows a mammoth will always be a dangerous animal to humans. It should be respected but left alone. However, the reason the attempt fails is because of interference from another human who sabotages their attempt and sets Hannah up for a nasty death squish. After a very lucky escape she hides in the boot of Jack’s prized Cadillac. She later pops out and saves him from the man threatening to kill him if he doesn’t teach him the most prized skill of the time: how to drive!


Sometimes it seems nature bends the rules.

Mark Shultz, Xenozoic Tales

It’s all great fun and the wordplay between Jack and Hannah is natural and funny. Trapped inside his garage by the angry beast the action is put on hold but it’s testament to Mark’s writing how compelling these simple character scenes can be. The script is full of interesting contradictions too. The juxtaposition between the dinosaurs and the cars is effortlessly presented, Hannah seeks action while Jack wants the easy life, and Jack the environmentalist and animal lover has dedicated his life to restoring the very machines responsible for the great cataclysm. (Although he has converted them to run on dino guano.)

Curious to see what all the fuss is about with these ancient contraptions Hannah convinces Jack to take her for a ride, then to chase a storm back to the city. They discover the dead body of the mammoth she tried to capture, clearly the victim of a predator outside the garage. Jack is furious. “He should never have died here.” It’s great to see these characters learning about each other and again it pains me we’re not seeing it all.

The storm chase naturally ends in disaster. They crash, the Cadillac becoming a write-off in a sodden ditch. Tenrec carries an unconscious Hannah through the driving wind and rain until he bumps into a sheltered building of some sort that he wasn’t previously aware of. With no time to question its sudden existence he places Hannah inside and tries to wait out the storm. Flood waters rush them and by morning the storm has revealed the shelter that saved their lives.

With this the story comes full circle. The mammoth that Hannah was so certain could help them rebuild their world has in the end saved their lives, by losing its own, because of her. It’s thought provoking and rather sad and I felt genuinely sorry for the mammoth in the end, and thought less of us as a species. Which I think was the whole point. It’s a very different strip, but it works perfectly as a back up in this comic. After all, both strips are about the interaction between dinosaurs and humans and what happens when we try to force our dominance on animals we were never meant to meet.

With this we reach the end of another issue and the back page has me very excited. Using a one-colour version of the cover to my very first issue, the announcement I’ve been waiting all these months for is finally here.

If I’d been collecting these issues in 1993 then I’m sure I’d have been hugely excited by this! Who wouldn’t have been? Even now I’m hyped. Discovering #6 on the shelves with the promise of new adventures inside was thrilling and this promo is bringing back all of those feelings again. The mention of the third strip and even the competition headline are bringing a big goofy smile to my face because I remember both so distinctly. It’s quite extraordinary.

As is normally the case with all of these real time read throughs I will have to practice will power, but this is going to be harder than most. But I’ll do it. I’ll wait for the correct date, no matter how impatiently. That date will be Tuesday 30th November 2021, so join me then as we embark once more to Isla Nublar for the forgotten, original sequel to Jurassic Park.