SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "Superman" #8, on sale now
Writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason kick off their "Escape From Dinosaur Island" arc in "Superman" #8. Dinosaur Island, of course, is the South Pacific island in the DC Comics Universe populated with countless prehistoric-type creatures first introduced over half a century ago. The island was also utilized as a locale by the late Darwyn Cooke for his acclaimed retro-style "DC: The New Frontier" series from 2004, and this issue in fact is acknowledged as an homage to Cooke. Artists Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza join Tomasi and Gleason as artists for the storyline's first chapter, which not only pays tribute to Cooke's neo-classic story, but also hints that his twelve-year-old miniseries might find more relevance than ever in DC's Rebirth era.
Before Dinosaur Island even becomes a plot point, though, Superman and Jon, along with Krypto, spend some quality father/son time in the ironically-named Fortress of Solitude working on Jon's school science project. When the drone-like device inexplicably takes on a life of its own, it assimilates some of the Fortress’ Kryptonian knowledge crystals before transforming into an almost Mother Box-like device. When Krypto gets hold of the cube and Jon tries to pry it from his jaws, the three of them are just as inexplicably transported to the shores of the as-yet unnamed island, near the wreckage of a World War II U.S. Navy warship upended on its beach.
After the family unit survives an attack by a gigantic undersea monster, they survey the island only to discover more wrecked WWII-vintage military vehicles. Realizing they've been sent to a location beyond their understanding, Superman, Jon and Krypto all attempt to fly away from the island only to be attacked again, this time by a flock of pterodactyl-like creatures. Superman saves Jon as he falls to the ground, only to have the group of flying predators mysteriously fly away, apparently frightened for reasons that remain unknown.
Within the skeletal remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Superman makes a startling discovery: more skeletal remains, this time human, and still bearing the military dog tags identifying the unfortunate victim as none other than John Cloud, known to longtime readers of DC's war comics as a member of The Losers. Superman subsequently comes across the makeshift battlefield graves of other U.S. servicemen, where the military headgear propped atop the rifles embedded in the ground likewise look familiar to attentive Losers fans. Krypto similarly sniffs out the remains of his fellow canine, Pooch, the wartime group's mascot.
Superman comes across other signs of the Losers' last stand, before he and Jon discover some cryptic writings on a cave wall, inscribed by John Cloud himself, which confirm the scene as that shown in the first issue of the out-of-continuity "DC: The New Frontier."
Ultimately, the events of this issue appear to be far more than a tribute to Cooke, as they also seemingly indicate that his story is now canon within the DC’s "Rebirth" universe, and by extension a possible precursor to the expected return of the Justice Society of America. Answers might be forthcoming in the second part of "Escape From Dinosaur Island" in "Superman" #9, on sale October 19.