September 7, 2010
Ever since the flop that was Jurassic Park 3, rumors have circulated about a bigger, badder fourth sequel in the dinosaur franchise. In the past two years alone the project has gone from officially dead to a prospective project Universal might develop once a few other big-ticket films are completed. But comic publisher IDW is not waiting around for the studio to get into gear. This past summer they have launched their own five-part Jurassic Park: Redemption series in an attempt to find a new way to bring people and dinosaurs into conflict.
Set a decade and a half after the first incident, IDW’s new series primarily focuses on what has become of the two children who were on the island during the tragedy—John Hammond’s grandchildren Lex and Tim. Despite the tragedy, both appear to have done well. Lex, the founder of an organic produce corporation, spends much of her time lobbying world governments to keep up security on the still-dinosaur-infested islands, while Tim is a political power-broker who is working with a shadowy businessman to start a tamer version of Jurassic Park with only herbivores. A holding facility in Texas—run by the geneticist Dr. Wu and an obvious caricature of the real-life paleontologist Robert Bakker named “Dr. Backer”—is keeping the dinosaurs until they are ready for their big debut, but what Tim doesn’t know is that the new park’s scientists bred carnivorous species, too. Carnotaurus and Velociraptor are among the predatory dinosaurs kept at the facility. I think you can see where this is going.
So far, the series is only two issues deep, but the story arc is not all that surprising. It is a veritable rule of dinosaur fiction that if a large theropod is seen in Act I, it should be on a bloody rampage by the start of Act II. After all, this would not be a Jurassic Park series if the dinosaurs were content to stay in their enclosures, and, since the escaped Carnotaurus is partial to beef, the blood and gore it leaves in its wake set the local people to wondering what kind of monster is prowling the countryside. Attempts to capture it repeatedly fail, and somehow I get the feeling that it won’t take long before other dinosaurs make a break for it, too.
As for the artwork in this series, it runs the gamut from “pretty good” to just plain awful. The people, buildings, and other objects in the story are done well—glossy while also a little rough around the edges—but the dinosaurs are terrible. Not only are all of them painted with drab shades of olive green and brown, but some of them don’t look anything at all like their real-life counterparts. The renderings of Velociraptor, especially, are so bad that it is hard to believe—they look like guys in rubber suits trying to impersonate raptors, and there’s not a feather to be seen on them. IDW would have done better to get Brett Booth to draw their dinosaurs, and it is a shame that, in a series centered around dinosaurs, the stars of the series look so terrible.
I’ll pick up this thread again when the next issue of Jurassic Park: Redemption arrives in the mail, and will keep up with it through the end of the series.
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.