Robert Kirkman, the creator (or co-creator) of "The Walking Dead," "Invincible," and "The Astounding Wolf-Man," has added quite a few gems to the comic book landscape, and does so again this week with his artistic co-creator Jason Howard. The story of Super Dinosaur's origin as a character isn't covered in this largely expository issue, but according to Kirkman, the concept of Super Dinosaur came from the mind of his co-creator's son.
Super Dinosaur is a nine-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex who wears a suit of armor that would make Tony Stark proud. The story in this issue is brought to us by Derek Dynamo, a ten-year-old kid whose best friend is the aforementioned T. Rex. Over the course of the story, we meet other sentient dinosaurs -- Terrordactyl, Breakeosaurus, Dreadasaurus - created by Max Maximus, who "keeps us pretty busy trying to stop all his evil plans." Kirkman and Howard also give us plenty of back story for Maximus' hatred for Derek's dad, Dexter Dynamo. The duo - Maximus and Dexter - discovered Inner Earth, home of dinosaurs and the location of DynOre, a fuel source of incredible power.
Howard's art is fun and electric, a little cramped at times as it works around and through narration, but clean and crisp enough as to not seem cluttered or unnecessarily detailed. The character designs are wonderful and inspired. Taking one look at Howard's design for Super Dinosaur, one can't help but appreciate the thought that went into designing a fully-functional suit of armor for a dinosaur. A deeper study of the imagery makes it clear why this concept hasn't sprung forth from another source before now - Howard and Kirkman have put a lot of thought into this and clearly have plans for this character in this book and beyond.
It's compelling and fun, and oh, so very comic booky. This is the type of all ages comic that truly plays well to all ages without pandering, demeaning, or flat-out lying. There's enough conflict and suspense for more experienced comic readers and lots of wonderful images, scenes, characters, and gadgets for newer readers.
This is a strong debut for a comic that clearly pines to be so much more than just a comic. "Super Dinosaur" may be set as a copyrighted intellectual property perched for bigger and better things or it may simply be what it appears to be: a fun comic book with dinosaurs. Either way, this single issue was enough to hook me. I'll be sharing this one.