September 30, 2010
When we last left IDW’s new Jurassic Park: Redemption comic series, things were quickly getting out of hand. A rogue Carnotaurus was tearing up the Texas countryside, some kind of crocodile-like creature had taken up residence near a nuclear facility, and the family-friendly, all-herbivore dinosaur park Tim Murphy thought he was funding has turned out to be a full-scale Jurassic Park operation in the American heartland. Now, in the third installment of the five-part series, events approach the tipping point that will send the series hurtling through its conclusion.
To a great extent, Part 3 of the series is an exercise in getting all the characters into position. Tim’s (literally) shadowy business partner is due to meet him at the dinosaur holding facility, but this mastermind’s intentions are less than benevolent. At the close of the last issue he ordered the death of the scientist Dr. Wu, and soon after his arrival at the dinosaur pens he shows his other scientist, Dr. Backer, who is in charge by ordering one of his cronies to taze the paleontologist. His welcome to Tim is none-too-friendly either, despite being another familiar character, and I am sure we will hear all about his devious plans in the next issue.
While Tim is busy realizing just how deep the pile of dino guano he has stepped in is, his sister Lex meets up with the local sheriff to try and figure out who—or what—has been tearing down the fences surrounding her organic crop fields. A few tell-tale signs make it clear that something other than vandals is causing all the damage, and the full-on dinosaur stampede at the climax of the issue confirms that, if Ian Malcom were around, he would have plenty of fodder for his long discourses on chaos theory.
The problem with all this is that the issue contains more quick-cuts than a Michael Bay movie. It can be difficult to bring together the disparate threads introduced in the book in the space of 22 pages, but the story skips across various time points and several venues. One moment we’re with Lex and the sheriff in her fields, the next with Tim and his antagonist, the next with truckers in a bar, and the next with a dinosaur herd before zipping off again. This approach makes the story feel a little forced and disjointed. Additionally, it was a bit of a cheap trick to have Dr. Backer lying at the mercy of the Carnotaurus at the end of the last issue but to have him just pop up intact in issue 3. “I barely escaped with my life last night!” Backer yells at a nefarious co-worker, but just how he did it is left up to the reader’s imagination. I hope that the following two issues will feel a little more cohesive.
Unfortunately, Nate Van Dyke’s artwork has not improved, either. In fact, the artwork in issue three seems even rougher than in the previous two issues, and the dinosaurs are still relatively drab and disproportionate. I will try not to harp on this point, but it is frustrating to see these poor creatures in a franchise chiefly based around dinosaurs. (Again, to see comic-style dinosaurs done right, check out Brett Booth’s blog.)
Will the concluding issues lift the quality of the series? The cover of the next issue—featuring a large carcharodontosaurid—hints that there is more dinosaur mayhem on the way, but awesome dinosaurs aren’t everything. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
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