Dinosaur fever is roaring back this week, thanks to the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. While it’s been 25 years since the first Jurassic Park wowed movie audiences all over the world, this week, we pay tribute to a fictional dinosaur who has been around even longer – Devil Dinosaur, who turns 40 this year, as well as other comic book dinosaurs we love.
Marvel’s favourite big red Tyrannosaurus Rex was created by Jack Kirby in the Devil Dinosaur series in 1978, which was the product of Marvel Comics’ knee-jerk reaction to DC Comics’ plans to produce an animated Kamandi series.
While Moon Boy was supposed to be their answer to Kamandi, it was the red T-Rex’s presence that made the biggest wave, capitalising on the popularity of dinosaurs among young readers.
Natives of a planet called Dinosaur World, Devil Dinosaur first met Moon Boy when the boy rescued the young dinosaur from the Killer-Folk tribe.
During the process, Devil Dinosaur was exposed to the Killer-Folks’ fire, which triggered a mutation that gave him super-dino-strength and increased intelligence, as well as turning his skin from green to red.
Ironically, the Kamandi animated series never materialised and Devil Dinosaur’s series lasted a mere nine issues. The duo was relegated to a string of one-shots, cameos, and supporting roles, in many of which they are transported from Dinosaur Planet to the primary Marvel continuity, Earth-616.
The duo eventually gets permanently stranded on Earth-616 after the sorceress Jennifer Kale accidentally summons them into New York City, causing Devil Dinosaur to rampage through the city before being stopped by Ghost Rider (Ghost Rider #82, 1997).
They are later relocated to the Savage Land, where they seemingly stayed until 2015, when a major revamp of Marvel’s universe saw Moon Boy replaced with Lunella Lafayette, a.k.a Moon Girl!
A super-genius who has been named Earth’s smartest person (yes, even smarter than Reed Richards!), Moon Girl is a nine-year-old Inhuman who can apparently switch minds with Devil Dinosaur, a ‘power’ that causes a lot more trouble than not.
Still, the unlikely pairing of her and Devil Dinosaur has helped raise the big red dino’s profile significantly. Poor Moon Boy, though.
Yes, we know, Godzilla didn’t exactly start out as a comic character. But he has made his fair share of appearances in Japanese manga as well as Western comics.
Godzilla had a two-year long series in the 70s with Marvel Comics written by Doug Moench with art by Herb Trimpe, in which he tangled with the likes of S.H.I.E.L.D, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Spider-Man, and even Devil Dinosaur.
After a decade with Marvel, the publication rights to Godzilla switched to three other publisher: Dark Horse (1987-1998), IDW (2010-2014) and Legendary (2014). All of them have tried to revive interest in Godzilla but with minimal success.
Fun Fact: Malaysian artist Alan Quah had a hand in Legendary’s Godzilla: Awakening graphic novel, which served as a prequel to the 2014 Godzilla movie.
Also hailing from Japan is the super-cute and seemingly indestructible Gon, a tiny T-Rex who living in the modern world. This hilarious wordless manga follows Gon’s mostly stand-alone adventures as he interacts with his surroundings, fighting animals ten times his size and sometimes helping others as well.
Age Of Reptiles
Like Gon, Ricardo Delgado’s Age Of Reptiles franchise is also completely wordless – the epic tale about dinosaurs is driven by Delgado’s art alone.
All together, Age Of Reptiles has four story arcs set in the Mesozoic era: Tribal Warfare (1993), The Hunt (1997), The Journey (2009) and Ancient Egyptians (2015), all featuring the daily lives of carnivorous dinosaurs.
Age Of Reptiles: The Hunt won Delgado two Eisner awards in 1998 for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition and Best Limited Series.
Dinosaurs for Hire
Riding on the popularity of the wave of anthropomorphic character titles (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters, Boris The Bear etc) in the 80s, the Dinosaurs For Hire comprised a T-Rex (Archie) who dresses like the Terminator, a triceratops (Lorenzo) with bad fashion sense, a one-eyed stegosaurus (Reese) with a penchant for heavy weapons and a pterodactyl (Cyrano).
The dinosaurs are much smaller-in-size and actually intelligent aliens who are stranded on Earth after their spacecraft malfunctioned. To settle in our planet, they become mercenaries for hire!
The plot is heavily laced with satire and parody, which fuelled a collective 21-issue run, across two publishing houses.
Dinowars: Jurassic War Of The Worlds
This four-parter is about dinosaurs escaping the ice age by sleeping in deep space, and returned to claim the Earth after 65 million years. Other than the reference to War Of The Worlds, this wasn’t really that memorable, to be honest.
From the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, comes Super Dinosaur (SD), a genetically-altered Tyrannosaurus Rex, and his best human friend, Derek.
SD was hatched from a T-Rex egg that was experimented on by the evil Doctor Maximus, who intended to use him as the prototype for a race of genetically engineered dinosaur soldiers to conquer the world!
However, SD’s intelligence foiled Maximus’ plans and he became a force of good. Aided by Derek and his father, Doctor Dynamo, SD is equipped with exoskeletons which enhance his abilities. And they even help solve the T-Rex’s tiny arms problem!
This one has my vote for best dinosaur-art, courtesy of Steve Bissette (Swamp Thing).
The simple plot of a T-Rex’s struggle to survive (before it even emerges from its shell) may not sound exciting, but Bissette’s art work makes this a very mesmerizing journey.
Xenozoic Tales (a.k.a Cadillacs And Dinosaurs)
This cult dinosaur title by Mark Schultz is set in a post-Apocalyptic Earth ravaged by pollution and natural disasters.
To survive this calamity, humanity sought refuge in underground cities for approximately 600 years.
However, upon their return to the surface, the humans found that the world had been reclaimed by dinosaurs, which had somehow returned from extinction!
The two main protagonists here are Jack Tenrec (a mechanic) and his scientist beau Hannah Dundee.
The dinosaur-element comes in the guise of Hermes, an Allosaurus raised by Jack, and the dino-guano he uses to power his Cadillacs!