Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Devil Of A Dinosaur!

Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia
Devil Dinosaur is one of Jack "King" Kirby's weirdest offerings. Coming late after his return to Marvel in the Bronze Age, this wacky tale of a pre-human cave-boy and his amigo, a mighty T-Rex is at once bizarre fantasy and oddball allegory. Moonboy is a youthful protagonist who is separated from his tribe the "Small Folk" and finds a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex who has ferociously fought off raiders dubbed the "Killer Folk" who have annihilated his whole brood. A fire causes the T-Rex's skin to turn a fiery crimson and so he gets his sobriquet of "Devil Dinosaur". Moonboy and the Devil inexplicably bond and are able at some basic level to communicate.

Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
They revenge the death of Devil's "family" when they confront the giant spider god and see to it that the prehistoric raiders who were responsible meet a properly grim fate.

Jack Kirby and Dan Green
They battle a giant caveman who proves a rival to Devil himself, but find some level of peace in this encounter.
Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott
And then things really being to heat up when aliens descend from outer space and start herding up biological samples into their spacecraft. Moonboy and Devil Dinosaur become separated when Moonboy is captured and Devil must make other allies to battle against the alien threat.

Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott
This story continues when Devil and his new allies Stone-Hand and an Elder make use of giant ants to battle the aliens, to a very large extent defeating them and saving the creatures they captured.

Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott
Then the allegorical aspect of the series, already hinted at in places comes fully to the fore when an ersatz Garden of Eden is established by a remnant of the alien technology (which remarkably resembles a tree) and Stone-Hand and his newly acquired "mate" Eev find themselves held captive within. The garden is a mixed blessing as it offers lush sustenance but limited liberty.

Jack Kirby and Steve Leialoha
Then Devil invades this "Eden" and things change pretty dramatically. I won't spoil it.

Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson
For the final two stories in this brief series, we get Devil and Moonboy battling against cave-dwellers who have "domesticated" dinosaurs as steeds.

Jack Kirby and John Byrne
And Devil finds his way into the future world of 1978 when he falls into the magical pit of a witch-like crone. Needless to say that Devil finds plenty to do in his brief stay in the "modern world".

All in all, the Devil Dinosaur series is a hoot and a half, full of riotous action and some of the absolute best two-page spreads in Kirby's illustrious career. The lush inks are by Mike Royer. See below for some wild examples.


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12 comments:

  1. A typically wacky Jack Kirby offering - I suppose it would be churlish to mention that dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years before Mankind arrived but they got away with it in "One Million Years BC" so why not Marvel.

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    1. Kirby seemed to be blending paleontology, archeology, Von Daniken, and Genesis into a weird wild brew. It works, somehow.

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  2. You're School Teacher Right?
    Where do you get all the money to buy...
    All These Wonderful Artwurks?
    I'm So Amazed everyday that you post
    Love It
    -Sam

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    Replies
    1. I've been collecting a long long time and they pile up. I spend too much, but I've recently been doing some trading. That helps the budge immensely. I don't like to pay full price for any book if I can help it.

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  3. Just So Much Fun
    Gold Key Comics, DC, Marvel
    I Love That Every Day YOU ARE ON IT
    The Shadow, DOC Savage Geez So Much Fun!
    All The Best To You,
    -Sam

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  4. Paul McCartney & Wings - Back To The Egg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yDSVM5lEY8
    Rawk On With Love And Affection
    -Sam

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  5. I remember this Kirby/Marvel era and really not liking Devil Dinosaur, 2001, Kirby’s Black Panther’s series – and especially not liking his take on Captain America with the Mad Bomb storyline (after a truly great run by Englehart & S. Buscema), but revisiting his stuff 35 years later one realizes now just how far ahead of the mainstream The King was. It holds up, we’re still talking about it – and it’s much easier to appreciate his unique vision for what it was. No one will ever fill his Galactus-sized boots again…

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    1. I was the same back in the day, but I've changed my mind as my acceptance of the absurd qualities of those comics has developed.

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  6. This One Great Web-Site
    Thank You!
    -Sam

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  7. I was a late convert to this series. The visuals on the hominids always bothered me because the modern homo sapiens features seemed incongruous with the furry ape bodies. I don't know if Kirby was encouraged to "modernize" the features; the cavemen in the concurrent 2001 series looked great. Maybe if ,instead of flesh color, the faces were a lighter blue or brown, it would not have looked so much like yuppies in monkey costumes.
    I still was surprised at how Kirby took this seemingly limited premise and showed that any storyline, however lame, has infinite possibilities.

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    1. I think Kirby relished taking a so-so concept and blowing the doors off in unexpected and startling ways.

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