Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #176 by Drew Barth
With Jurassic Chomping Action!
Comics are, above all, a medium for telling stories. And sometimes the best kinds of stories are catharsis—we need to feel a release from what we’ve become accustomed to. Jurassic League is one such kind of catharsis. Taking familiar characters that are confined to some kind of canon and allowing creators like Juan Gedeon, Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer, and Ferran Delgado to transform them into something akin to a mid-90s action figure line gives a reader that deep-soul chuckle that we need while slipping into the comfort of dinosaur superheroes.
Jurassic League is kind of what it promises on the tin: the Justice League with a jurassic bend to it. The Bat Walker patrols the outskirts of Growltham City for the Jokerzard; Wonderdon begins her journey from the island of Trimyscira; the alien Supersaur helps the human citizens of Metraaaghpolis build their burgeoning community. It’s a distilled version of each familiar character, but one that cuts to the heart of their stories: the brooding vigilante, the protector from a mythical land, the alien raised by a kindly couple. But there is already an undercurrent of something larger happening as Jokerzard, Blackmantasaurus, Giganta, and Brontozarro are performing their own duties of not simply tormenting people, but collecting them for some unknown purpose. As a first issue, it’s establishing those essential threads and rules of the world that we’ll follow along and unfold over the next five issues.
The bright boldness of Jurassic League already shows its promise as not just a strange multiversal spin-off, but as this cathartic comic. Many superhero stories are hampered by canon, and re-launches and reboots only seem to complicate those issues further. Gedeon, Johnson, Spicer, and Delgado have instead distilled these familiar origins into something eccentric yet accessible. Its weirdness is comforting. It is the most fun I would ever have playing with action figures as a child in the 90s. And yet it isn’t trying to rely on nostalgia for that comfort. As a series so far, Jurassic League is wholly unique but enough sinew of the familiar remains. What is left allows us to revel. We can get lost in this new interpretation and sink into the kinetic art style that lets us just sit with the loud weirdness of the story for those few moments. It’s like wrapping yourself in a neon green and yellow Jurassic Park comforter on a cold night.
These odd Elseworld series are necessary in these long-running comic universes. The stories can’t always be tertiary colors and high drama. There needs to be a release to make that drama really work. And as superhero comics are the kind of medium that thrives on these stories occurring simultaneously while reading every week, this spot of primary colored absurdity gives readers a chance to unclench their jaws and enjoy comics. And as things in the world are only getting more strenuous, it’s nice to have that romping moment of comfort.
Get excited. Get prehistoric.