Comics on the can
Writer – Robert Kirkman
encil & Colors – Jason Howard
Inker – Cliff Rathburn
Ok, kids, welcome to the Super Science Museum! This is the place with fun interactive games like Jetpack Joust, build a kidney and clone your own wiener dog! But I know what really gets you little snot nosed piles of random DNA combinations really wound up! Can anybody guess?
No, Dijon, it’s not the living dinosaur exhibit, Anybody else?
No, Katniss, it’s not the living dinosaur exhibit. I said that already. One more try!
No, Kanye, it’s not the @%*&! Living @%*& dinosaur exhibit! It’s the Comics on the can exhibit you little punks! Get it right!
Back in the second decade of the twenty first century this guy got a box of random comics as a present…
Yes, Porter 2.0, comics as a medium did die out in the early third decade of that century due to mismanagement and greed. Way to show off your socialist rhetoric, now shut up you little show off! As I was saying this guy… this unnamed hero lost to time and the cruel whimsy of fate… started to read these comics while going to the bathroom, most often #2…
Yes, PepsiFree, this was before we eliminated elimination and absorbed nutrition directly from solar rays, very good, now shut up!
Where was I? Oh yes; he read the comic and then wrote about it, kinda, in a weird-ass stream of thought type of prose and usually included narrow band geek jokes as was the popular style in that time period… Hermione if you make one snide comment about the lame attempt at connecting to the supra-meta-textual eleven dimensional entity that permeates idea space I’ll take you right to the horrifying clown experiments exhibit and lock you in there! Let me finish you little goddamn meme generators!
He then posted his thoughts all willy nilly on the primitive “interwebs”… and before any of you little bastards can say it, yes; this predates the hyper organic modular sub-aether network that we use now. I’m the freggin teacher here!
Ugh, yes, 57H/3 he did promote the column on Anti-social networks before the great purge. Now c’mon the sooner we get this part done the sooner we get to ride a triceratops! Don’t forget who your buddy is!
Jesus Cybernetic Christ, 3rd graders!
All kids love dinosaurs. I assume this is from the dawn of time, or more likely, since the discovery of dinosaur fossils. Kids in ancient Egypt probably had sphinx monsters, shooting slaves with crossbows and magic cats in their imagination line-up. Let’s face it; giant drooling, vicious, sharp toothed, armored lizards that roamed the volcano blighted wasteland battling each other for survival can’t help but stoke a kids fevered imagination. My first exposure to dinos was Disney’s “Fantasia”! Sure, the broomstick thing was cool and that whole classical music retelling of Meat Loaf’s “Bat outta Hell” sequence was pretty bitchin but damn if those dinos didn’t make me want to run out and become an archaeologist! I was so impressed by the giant lizards that the very first story I wrote was a surreal little yarn called “The Brontosaurus who thought he had no feet.” While light on characterization the plot chugged along at a breakneck three pages and was resolved when a pterodactyl flew under the sad herbivore and informed him, definitely, that he did, indeed, have feet. Chortle if you want at the scientific inaccuracies and simple dialogue but keep in mind two things: 1 – I was in kindergarten and knew what a fucking Brontosaurus was so SHUT UP! 2 – It still had more structure that any “American Horror Story” since Asylum!
Point is Dinosaurs are a limitless source of kids amusement and all of it public domain. The suits at Universal rubbed their hands with glee, no doubt, when they got the rights to “Jurassic Park” mostly for the fact that T-Rex didn’t get residuals or gross points!
It only makes sense that the world of comics would tap into the ideas that giant lizards call forth! Think of it – The Savage land! Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur! Batman’s trophy area… I’m sure Superman has punched out a Megalodon or Ultrasaurus somewhere in his career.
It makes even more sense that dinos would be a key ingredient in kids comics. It makes slightly LESS sense that the person with the idea to exploit is the dude who created The Walking Dead and Outcast but hey that’s comics for ya!
Which finally brings us to Super Dinosaur! A Kirkman joint that was unknown to me as recently as three days ago and this issue is #13. Being the thirteenth issue I am walking into a story mid-telling. Being a comic written by a damn good scribe and complemented by clear, clean if somewhat rubbery artwork I’m pretty much able to piece together what’s going on without overtaxing my grey matter. A kid, Derek, has been kidnapped (?) by a lizardman (Reptiloid) and brought to an underground city. Other kids are plunging down a tunnel in an attempt to rescue the first kid. Oh yeah those kids have a talking T-Rex with real working arms instead of those tiny things you see in the science books. Perhaps there has been an explanation in previous issues as to why this talking T-Rex is this way. Maybe luck, maybe genetic mutation, maybe a super science explanation. I’m gonna lean towards the super science one because 1 – I don’t think it’s too relevant. 2 – The Rex has a mini-gun on his shoulder and fossil records have never supported the controversial “Mini-gun” theory of T-Rex hunting methods.
There are other items to support the Super science theory; mainly that one of the plunging kids, in particular the one advising the other kids to “just grab something” when the gravity flattens out at the center of the earth, is rocking a jetpack! So, yeah… sure; tell the other kids to “grab something” after a fall of several miles and hope that “something” isn’t a shelf of molten earth core or a CHUD or some kid crippling/killing center of the earth shit. You got a jetpack so bully for you.
I am willing to accept the dubious science of surviving a straight to the middle of the earth death plunge due to gravity flipping only because this is a kids comic, narratively they need to rescue their friend and there is a T-Rex with a shoulder mounted mini-gun. Scientific veracity sorta takes a backseat for those reasons. Meanwhile the other kid, Derek, and his Reptiloid kidnapper are immediately captured by the local subterranean metropolis militia. The kidnapping lizard man (I couldn’t find his name in the book so I’ll call him Reginald Prescott Beakface the 3rd… ok, just Reggie) is, naturally, the estranged brother of the Lizard king. Who is sadly named Slinn and not Morrislinn (missed opportunity there RK). It seems Reggie believes that there are creatures living on the surface of the planet and that is why his grabbed Derek and legged it back to Slinn city (see what I did there) as proof. Naturally Slinn doesn’t believe a word of his brother’s nonsense due to narrative necessity and that Derek has been dragged away to be cut up into warm blooded flavored Reptiloid chow.
Fortunately Derek is rocking his own super science gear in what seems like a cute robot companion named “Wheels” (a sensible name considering), some hydraulically enhanced strength and mini bombs. Typical playground level super science stuff but enough to get out of a tight spot with lizardmen.
The other group survives the poorly thought out death plunge to discover an underground world filled with abundant non-explained lighting, absolutely zero molten lava and a stampede of triceratops. Man don’t you hate it when that happens!
Super Dinosaur maintains a steady flow; it moves quick enough for you to overlook dubious science (Wouldn’t the kids hit a terminal velocity dropping through a bottomless pit? The gravity flipping thing seems as sturdy a theory as “if you’re in a falling elevator jump up just as the elevator crashes” one) and fairly stock situations (I’ve seen the “one person fights to bring the truth to their people despite massive persecution” plot as recently as “Little foot” back in September) and is briskly written with enough care to overlook the blatantly mercenary nature of a “kids with talking dinosaurs” story. This originally appeared in August 2012 rewind thirteen months (July 2011) and you see Kirkman had a hit on his hands with “The Walking Dead”. It stands to reason he was fishing around for more lucrative options on his creator owned work. At least there is a sense of kid demographic fun here unlike the bald faced merchandising/kiddy cartoon hackwork of JURASSIC STRIKE FORCE FIVE. Kirkman is a pro and being a pro prevents him from not giving a shit about what essentially is a pitch for a kid’s cartoon. The pieces all look good on paper: Super science ethnically diverse kids battle/befriend mutant dinos, find a lost world, deal with first crushes, have robot buddies and save the day all with getting back in time for dinner. Blood free adventures that leave a small amount of room for nuance and a big dose of fun. Hell, if Netflix was going full original content tilt then it probably would be in season six right now. It’s not like I’m hating on Kirkman for trying to keep a roof over his kids’ head. I mean if Mark Millar can get just about anything he produces by vomiting fifteen year old Glen Fiddich into a burlap sack filled with rap CD’s, Frank Miller Batman scripts and used scrabble tiles optioned, someone like Kirkman deserves a decent shot at the big coin.
At risk of spending the whole review musing on WHY (oops too late) I’ll just accept the brief existence of “Super Dinosaur” as a HOW and leave it at that. I’m not slapping my head saying “Why didn’t I think of that!” like I did recently with Chris Sebela’s “Crowded”. But the all around competence of this book does illicit a golf clap and a snide “Well played Mr Kirkman. A talking T-Rex with a minigun… well played.”
Things tangentially related to the main body but I couldn’t work in organically…
Obviously the intro is a work of fiction; nobody is ever gonna name their kid “Kanye” ever again.
I had tickets for the “Bat out of Hell – The Musical” coming to LA in February 2019 I’ll admit it – I was stoked! I just got notified that the touring production was cancelled.
I just hope that instead of hitting the “Highway like a battering ram” the lead didn’t hit the “Audience members in the fifth row of the Pokipsie Playhouse like a battering ram” with his silver black phantom bike.
“Bat out of Hell” is fucking seminal to me.
“Bat out of hell 2: Back into Hell” is just moderately seminal.
Upon reflection, given the proper circumstances, I just might do “That” along with anything for love. Jus sayin…
Seriously, I’ve harbored a secret desire to sing lead in a Meatloaf tribute band. I know all the words to the “Bat out of hell” album.
At Super Show 2011 in Reading PA, I was planning on getting J.K. Woodward drunk enough to sing the female part of “Paradise by the dashboard light” in karaoke but there was a band instead.
I also wanted to be a marine biologist because I saw a moray eel eat the bad guy in “The Deep” when I was a kid. I figured out the unifying thread was movies when I said I wanted to be a Jedi Knight not long after.
Most kindergarten age stories have better structure than AHS. I’m not saying I was special.
Doesn’t it seem like Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are missing an opportunity by not having Eddie Izzard in their cast somehow? I mean he could be a perfect freaked out english accented transvestite goblin with a heroin habit who is the secret father of Evan Peters’ character and a pointless meandering story arc. C’mon guys it’s a perfect fit!
Other stories that have used subterranean lizard men in their cosmology: Doctor Who, G.I. Joe, Journey to the center of the earth, Nazi hollow earth theory, Land of the lost, about every tin foil hat wild conspiracy theory type that doesn’t necessarily work for the G.O.P. or Trump’s cabinet, Dungeons and Dragons, Naga from Hindu Mythology, Marvel comics, Lovecraftian mythos, Star Trek, the 80’s video game Altered Beasts and many countless more.
I’m having a hard time with this gravity flipping at the center of the earth thing so let me ask a scientist…
(the following morning) Ok; I asked my twitter friend, multi degree holder and podcaster Scientist Mel about the gravity thing here’s what she said:
“Gravity would not be null, you wouldn’t fall up. You’d stay in the center. Gravity is about the center, you fall towards the center.”
Considering what she says and figuring that their momentum wouldn’t dissipate either… those kids would be beyond splat!
Except the smug bastard with the jetpack.
So we can lob that junk science in the same bin as creationism, flat earth and jumping up at the last second before an elevator crashes.
If you dig her stuff (and there is no reason why you shouldn’t) help her spread common sense, critical thinking and scientific process with her PATRON.
I appeared on her podcast this summer talking about the science of cinematography and it kinda dovetailed in a cognitive/perception direction.
Why does the person trying to tell the truth always have to be related to the person in power trying to deny/suppress the truth? Oh yeah, narrative convenience!
Christ, JURASSIC STRIKE FORCE FIVE was blatant and hacky in its pursuit of a toy deal! It makes Super Dinosaur look like King fucking Lear by comparison!
I’ve been watching a lot of “Zero Punctuation” on Youtube. Yahtzee Croshaw’s Hysterical, acidic snark and whiplash delivery is what I aspire to here (somewhat). The Millar line is my stab at mimicking Yahtzee’s style.
That being said the put down is no less true.
“Crowded” is my new favorite book. If the Fanboy editing staff decides to stop wanking to MMA videos and/or rolling around in blow up pools of peach yogurt and thumb drives filled with preview comic links long enough to do a “best of” or “Staff favorites” feature at the end of the month I will enthusiastically endorse it!
That might’ve been another shot at aping Yahtzee but I’m pretty tired at the point of this writing so SHUT UP!
I was going to do the book “Sex” for this edition but I left that comic behind at work when my back decided to spasm. So Super Dinosaur gets the rogering!
Speaking of Sex I’ll probably be a voter for the AVN awards again this year (Good buzz on “The Weight of infidelity” and “The Deadpool Porn Parody”)
NEXT: In a ironic twist of fate Mark Millar’s “Jupiter Circle” is next in the box!
LATER: Sex (depending on my back)