A tyrannosaurus called BatWalker hunts evil in Growltham City. A triceratops called WonderDon readies for battle on her utopian island of Trimyscira. A brontosaurus called Supersaurus protects the humans of Metraaaghpolis.
If these dinosaur puns don't bring a giant smile to your face, you probably won't enjoy The Jurassic League #1. At the same time, if the idea of the Justice League as dinosaurs battling prehistoric supervillains doesn't bring you joy, odds are that few things do.
The Jurassic League #1 begins with the prehistoric world under the threat of some mysterious evil. All across the globe, dinosaur versions of DC's worst baddies are hunting and killing humans, called "small beasts" by our heroes.
The villains, like the psychopathic Jokerzard or tyrannical Blackmantasaurus, are using humans' bodies to build some sort of machine on behalf of an unknown horror. Fortunately, Wonderdon has received visions of a gathering of champions - five dinosaurs that will stand tall to meet the threat head-on. After arming herself with a variety of magic defenses, she goes to join them.
Written by Juan Gedeon & Daniel Warren Johnson
Art by Juan Gedeon
Coloring by Mike Spicer
Lettering by Ferran Delgado
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 8/10
From page one, panel one, readers can tell that this alternate version of the DCU is in first-class hands. Writers Daniel Warren Johnson and Juan Gedeon (who also draws the book) put us right into the action, with a mysterious spaceship crashing to Earth containing a dinosaur baby. But don't think the writers spend too much time on origin stories - as soon as we see little Supersaur's human parents adopt him, we cut to the present day, as Batwalker stalks a killer.
Of the many impressive things about this comic, one of the most is that Gedeon and Johnson introduce us to this alternate DCU so seamlessly. At no point does it feel like there's something you're missing as a reader. By focusing the entire story around the strange evil that the villains serve, the writers simplify and clarify the world of the book and the heroes that populate it, allowing a reader to focus on the absolutely killer art.
And folks, what art it is. It's hard to read Jurassic League #1 and not imagine that this is the comic Juan Gedeon has waited for his entire life, there's so much care and detail and absolute boldness on each page. Everything cool about prehistoric fiction is in this comic, plus hero and villain designs that rank among the best Elseworlds titles. From BatWalker's Jurassic utility belt to Wonderdon's dino-themed magic armor, these suits are sure to make an impression. In fact, if Todd McFarlane isn't working on an action figure line, we riot.
Speaking of action, this book has got it in spades. In particular, the fight scene between BatWalker and Jokerzard is as brutal as it is beautiful, and Gedeon uses it to sneakily introduce a key character point. No spoilers here, but you'll be impressed by how well that important moment is worked in. Plus, the scene also contains the single best Batarang sound effect ever on the comic page, and yes, I'm sticking by that. There's one more great action scene after this one in Jurassic League #1, and there are sure to be more as the series goes on.
Making those suits and battle scenes sing are the colors from Mike Spicer, but they don't stop at the characters. No, Spicer's work is what makes the world here really come alive, by heightening the natural colors of a prehistoric setting to comic book radiancy. You've never seen a brontosaurus as blue as Supersaurus, but you've also never seen an ocean as blue as the one Blackmantasaurus fights in. Colors often drive the emotion of a comic, and Spicer makes it clear which emotions you should be feeling during Jurassic League - pure, uncut excitement.
And if we're talking about combining dinosaurs and superheroes, we can't neglect to bring up the lettering work by Ferran Delgado. There's a rough texture to all the dino characters' dialogue, both internal and external. This adds a beast-like quality to their speech, delineates them from the (few) speaking humans, but most importantly, makes the distinction clear that this is not a comic about people. Though the characters are relatable on a human level, this is not a story about humans, it's about more powerful beings, and we see that in how they speak.
The Jurassic League #1 goes on sale May 10, and if you are looking for a book that will make you smile, we can't recommend it enough. In today's landscape of brooding, existential heroes, it's easy to forget that superheroes once existed to entertain and amaze. Fortunately, The Jurassic League remembers. The past is sort of its thing, after all.
I don't know, does the Jurassic League qualify for one of the best Justice League line-ups of all time?