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Devil Dinosaur and his stubby Cee Lo Green arms are about to dish out some SWEET, SWEET VENGEANCE – Devil Dinosaur #5

January 25, 2012

Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur offered a sublime sampling of boyish (and maybe girlish too — I can’t speak to that) wish-fulfillment. What kid doesn’t ask for a dog at some point in their childhood? What kid isn’t fascinated by dinosaurs? Put those two things together, and WHAT KID WOULD NOT WANT A FIERCELY LOYAL PET DINOSAUR? Better yet, a T-Rex, which is like getting Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari for your first car?

Everyone envies Moon Boy and his scaly, red companion. His loyal companion.

How loyal? Dogs are man’s best friends, and they’ve been properly venerated in fiction. But did Lassie or Rin Tin Tin ever conjure up an elaborate scheme to avenge the apparent death of their master? To kill the killers in a most terrible way? Some HE’S BACK AND HE’S PISSED comeuppance? The answer we’re looking for here is NO. But Devil Dinosaur  — apparently he’s heard all the digs about the pea-brains of dinos — in this issue puts into motion a scheme with multiple moving parts, one that puts Walter White’s ass-saving plan in Season 4 of Breaking Bad to shame. It’s a whopper, involving a series of contingencies and a healthy dose of good luck.

Put Devil in the next Danny Ocean heist movie. Ocean’s Dinosaur.

Of course, it’s made all the more joyous by the talents of the King. Kirby’s pencil and brush were perfectly suited for the world that Devil and Moon Boy traipsed over, whether it was supposed to be prehistoric Earth or an alternate Earth or a fever dream or whatever. Dinosaurs, craggly hills, rocky landscapes and towering volcanos are about as much in Jolly Jack’s wheelhouse as anything. Oh, and robots. Yeah. Robots. Because this issue’s villains are mechanized aliens that have taken Moon Boy aboard their spaceship as a specimen. They look a bit like differently colored, smaller versions of Terminus. Terminii. And HOLY BALLS THIS TWO-PAGE SPREAD RULES:

Sometimes I wish Kirby could have drawn my life. Not the story of my life. My actual life. So I could see things like this while I walk to get groceries.

In “Journey to the Center of the Ants” (oh, Jack…), Moon Boy is cooped up in a glass tube, waiting for an “examination,” which one fears is alien carny for “dissection.” All that’s left is putting a little chloroformed chunk of cotton on top of his jar, and it might be a permanent lights out for him. Meanwhile his pals, an elder named White-Hair (Look, he’s so old he’s WHITE!), a somewhat skeptical warrior named Stone-Hand, and Devil, are all under threat from the same “Sky Demons.”

Dire straits. Straits that call for a devilish way out.

There’s an apostrophe and an “S” missing in the following panel, but that doesn’t take away from Devil’s agitation — and maybe you can see the first embryonic stages of a plan developing behind those reptilian eyes:

Show you he shall, Stone-Hand. “RUMPF!” indeed.

White-Hair convinces Stone-Hand to follow Devil’s lead. “What’s that boy? Farmer Jesse fell down a well? Show us!” And where does he lead them? OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE FIRE:

Swarmers. Sounds charming. We get our intro to these nasties when the Sky Demons come a calling:

Where are Cate Blanchett’s thighs when you need them?

Devil has been pretty much winging it up until this point, but now his saurian synapses really start popping:

He may be a dinosaur, but he ain’t no dummy. Like monkeys stacking boxes to get the bananas.

He leads his two pals inside the Swarmers’ Tower of Death (!), where they avoid detection for a spell, only to be discovered and, well, swarmed. It’s then that the Sky Demons decide to take care of this new Swarmer threat by blowing up their home, which may cause some second guessing at the next Sky Demon council meeting:

When I was little, my father was mowing the lawn one day when he ran over a yellowjacket nest. I have a clear memory of him charging back the house, ripping his pants off and screaming as he ran. SO I HAVE FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE WITH HORROR LIKE THIS. The Sky Demons have no idea what they’re in for.

Devil extracts himself and his friends from the rubble, content that the Swarmers are on the way to destroy the Sky Demons, who have probably killed Moon Boy (who still lives, by the way). “And on the Seventh Day, Devil Dinosaur rested”:

He’s a cute-a-saurus. He thinks he’s prehistoric people.

And there you have it. That Devil Dinosaur, he’s one clever Rex.

DD might be some of Kirby’s best 1970s output. With a young man beleaguered in a hostile world, Devil is like Kamandi. But with goddamn dinosaurs and a T-Rex that’s like a giant, red, mute, short-armed E.T., which means it’s about 1000x better. It certainly outshines much of Kirby’s short-lived DC output, like OMAC, or abandoned concepts like Atlas. The more you think about Devil Dinosaur, the more you like it. I’ve had several dogs in my life, but I doubt any of them would have avenged my apparent death. That’s where the whole wish-fulfillment angle comes in. It’s the stuff of daydreams, and we owe Kirby a debt of homage for committing this daydream to paper.

Devil Dinosaur got the Omnibus treatment a few years back, but that tome is now out of print. Criminal. One hopes that this can be rectified at some point in the future, so that future generations can revel in the boy-meets-dinosaur magic ladled out during its brief run.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2012 10:10 pm

    Great post (even with the missing ‘d’). That Omnibus volume may be out of print, but I’ve got MINE. (Evil laugh.) Talking of dogs, you may be interested in my post ‘One Last Walk…’ over at my blog on http://kidr77.blogspot.com – forgive the plug.

    • January 26, 2012 4:25 am

      The missing “d.” Fixed. Stone-Han (Solo in carbonite?) indeed. Sometimes these things manage to slip through the spell-check. BUT WHAT WAS MARVEL’S EXCUSE?

      And how dare you plug after pointing out one of my many typos? Such temerity. Such gall. I salute you.

      • January 26, 2012 7:55 am

        I just can’t help myself – I’m a proofreader at heart.

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