Super Dinosaur is a kid’s comic that’s not just for kids. Writer Robert Kirkman, best known for more serious fare like Walking Dead and Invincible, lets loose in a way he hasn’t since Battle Pope. The sex and over the top violence has been stripped, but not the action or the great dialog.
It’s nice to see Kirkman shatter his more popular and darker musings and just have a good time. Super Dinosaur is brightly colored, fast paced and told from the perspective of a hyper intelligent teenager named Derek Dynamo, who battles crime with the help a Tyrannosaurus Rex strapped with super weapons named Super Dinosaur. See what I mean? Just the description sounds like a rousing good time.
Beneath it’s brightly told action tale, Super Dinosaur has an interesting storyline. Apparently the Earth is hollow and beneath our world is a world of dinosaurs that are hyper intelligent. This is also the resting spot of a power source called Dynor, the most powerful source in the entire world. Battling for control of this power source is the man who discovered the dinosaur world Doctor Dynamo and his former partner Max Maximus, who has turned evil. Helping the good doctor is his son Derek Dynamo, Super Dinosaur and Derek’s friendly robot Wheels. Helping Max Maximus is a stable of bad dinosaurs with amazing names like Terrordactyl, Dreadasaurus and Tricerachops. Super Dinosaur opens with one of these epic battles, allowing Kirkman to set up the story without resorting to straight, and often boring, exposition.
What really keeps Super Dinosaur going is Kirkman’s balance between the teenage slant on things and the depth of a more adult driven comic. There’s a really good subplot here concerning Doctor Dynamo, as well as the appearance of two teenage girls, daughters of a mother/father team brought in to help with Super Dinosaur’s weapon repairs. Both daughters are very different and it’s clear that their differences will come into play as the story goes on. The writing particularly shines with the character of Super Dinosaur. Rather than go the easy route of making the giant T-Rex violent, mean spirited or at least grouchy, Kirkman makes him another teenager. Funny and ill at ease around girls, he’s a giant fighting monster that loves pie and video games. It’s this humanistic way of dealing with Super Dinosaur that sucks you into the story.
Artist Jason Howard does a great job of bringing Kirkman’s vision to life. It’s Howard’s typical blend of the cartoonish and realistic, brimming with color and movement. While sometimes I have issue with this kind of work, it’s a perfect fit for Super Dinosaur. I often repeat this sentiment, but comics on a whole seem to have become mired in everything but fun and old fashioned good vs evil story telling. Super Dinosaur is a cool and refreshing way to follow a cherished idea in comic books. To put it in the words of Derek Dynamo, Super Dinosaur is AWESOME!