Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Jason Howard
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics
These days, Robert Kirkman is certainly best known for his comics The Walking Dead and Invincible. They’re both aimed squarely at teenagers and older, though, so it’s nice to see that his new comic Super Dinosaur is meant to be read by all ages. And trust me when I say this in the most positive way possible: reading the first two issues of Super Dinosaur makes me wonder when the action figures and play sets are going to be available.
So far, Super Dinosaur reminds me a lot of the afternoon cartoons I watched growing up. Semi-serials like Transformers and Thundercats had a mixture of crazy science, bigger than life ideas, explosions, and personal drama, and that’s what Super Dinosaur does too. A recent Free Comic Book Day origin special devotes itself to flashbacks, as Derek explains to the two teenage girls now living at the secret Dynamo Dome just who Super Dinosaur is, and how a talking dinosaur in battle armor fighting for good came about. It’s a slightly silly and crazy origin, to be certain; after all, it involves a hollow earth, dinosaurs, evil scientists, and lots of high-tech weapons. It’s so out there, though, that it somehow all clicks together—perhaps because something this big has each piece distracting the reader from all the other pieces simultaneously—and by the end of the issue you’re chuckling at the sheer chutzpah of it all.
But as for the ongoing series itself, it’s got a good mix of adventure and drama. We get the setup for our cast of characters fairly quickly, and ideas that seem like they could have been stretched out for years (for example, Derek secretly helping his father Doctor Dynamo ever having a brain injury) are instead given forward process immediately. It’s a smart move; dragging things out forever is hardly a way to win an audience for a new book, and it makes it feel like things are never going to get stale.
As for the characters, they’re all a bit stereotyped in places, for better or for worse. Erin and Erica Kingston, the twin daughters of newly-arrived mechanics Bruce and Sarah, are probably the least fleshed out; Erin’s the nice one who clearly likes Derek, with Erica and the grouchy and disdainful one who would rather move back to home. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and while I understand that all ages books often paint the character in broad strokes for the younger readers to latch on, it still feels like there could be more depth brought to them. At the opposite end of the spectrum, though, there’s Tricerachops, easily my favorite character to date. I appreciate that she’s neither hero nor villain, working on her own to stop Maximus but not automatically teaming up with Derek and Super Dinosaur, either. It’s more complex than many all ages comics would be (although even then it’s not that difficult, but having someone who doesn’t fall into either camp is still refreshing) and it holds a lot of story possibilities for down the line.
It’s Jason Howard’s art that I think I’m digging the most, though. His character designs are fun (and based on the Super Dinosaur Origin Special! I’m dying to see him start drawing more of Squidious) and are immediately eye-catching. We’ve already seen him dream up two different suits of armor for Super Dinosaur (both a regular suit and now a winter weather edition), and somehow I suspect we’re going to get a lot more. And as silly as the idea of a bipedal triceratops wielding an axe sounds, Howard nails it into a character that looks like enough fun that I could see a toy version just flying off of the shelves. Even characters that sound silly based entirely off of the script, like the Exile, end up looking interesting and making me want to see more. It’s that clean, animation-style art of Howard’s that just gives Super Dinosaur that final extra edge of interest.
With two issues (plus the Free Comic Book Day origin special), Super Dinosaur has already enchanted me, and I suspect I’m not alone. It’s hard to go wrong with dinosaurs, but Kirkman and Howard have taken that innate attraction and amplified it even stronger. It would be great to see Super Dinosaur do as well as The Walking Dead and Invincible. It’s certainly got the star power to be a hit. This is one of those comics that is, truly, fun for the whole family.