Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert #2 (2011)
By: Tristan Jones on March 7, 2011  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Cover Art
Publisher: IDW
Script: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne
So Diamond finally got around to shipping copies of Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert #2 to my local comic shop nearly a month after it was meant to arrive and barely a week before the third issue hits. Often times waits like this tend to kill my excitement for a book, and after a few weeks of walking into the shop hoping the issue had arrived, I'd started to think about it less and less in favor of other books. Even when the book did eventually arrive and I was holding it in my hands, what normally would've been the first thing I read from the pile was slotted somewhere towards the end. After getting a couple of pages in however, the excitement returned and it was as though the delay never happened.

Now, I was informed by writer and artist John Byrne himself that my last review presented an inaccurate account of the events of Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert #1, which is true, and the extent of my inaccuracy is made very clear in this second instalment. Forget everything I wrote about the Carnotaurs, and any association with the maligned Jurassic Park: Redemption; in fact, forget this has anything to do with anything except the actual movies themselves. This story is not set in Glen Rose, Texas, and any all the links I drew between this story and Redemption are bizarrely coincidental; whether the threads left dangling in Redemption are a deliberate editorial decision or an oversight I guess remains to be seen, however, had I not been informed of the coincidences prior to this issue's release, I probably would've been momentarily disappointed and I guess anyone who dug redemption is probably going to be slightly bummed that this doesn't carry over on those threads (as I'm sure I'm not the only one who jumped to conclusions after transitioning from Redemption straight into this). Anyway, with that all out of the way, lets take a look at what we have here with issue 2…

Picking up not long after the first issue, we find that a spate of savage cattle mutilations and bizarre fatal maulings are being caused by a small group of Pteranodons nesting in the more mountainous areas of the Southern California desert (the geography is made pretty clear in the book - once again negating any predrawn link to Redemption). Their appearance in the area is also explained in this issue, and this time far more logically and thoughtfully than the simple idea of dinosaurs escaping a mainland park. Sheriff Tobias and his companions' continue their hunt for the creatures responsible for the attacks and the young boy responsible for bringing the attacks to the sheriff's attention in the first place has gone in search of his father (an unfortunate victim of the pterosaurs). Now, not only do they have to deal with the Pteranodons, but find the boy before he falls victim to the creatures themselves.

Everything I loved about the first issue carries across into this one. The art is infallible, and Byrne continues to present the story through the use of cinematic wide-angle style panels, which gives the whole thing a vibe of authenticity, merging both the movie and comic medium into one in a way.

Byrne's script is equally as impressive, more so in this issue than the last because of the attention to the details of the original movies. The film references are great little treats for fans of the property, and also help bolster that authenticity I mentioned before. Even if you haven't seen the movies (get on it, now!), it's still easy to follow and never feels bogged down in the continuity of the films despite the references. Byrne's rather clever method of bringing the pterosaurs to the mainland is also worth noting, as are the explanations in smaller details like the teeth in the creatures' beaks.

The book is following a pretty clear trajectory structurally, but given how wrong I was through my assumptions leading into the first issue, I'm not going to try to predict where this story is going to go, but given what we have so far - which is actually surprisingly little when you sit back and really look at it - it's safe to say that the rest of the book is going to be very interesting to watch unfold and I'm very keen to see how this story concludes.

I'm glad IDW have taken a punt on a "smaller" story like this one. I've got a feeling it wouldn't have been as likely to be considered had Byrne not pitched it (or at least, someone of his calibre), but these smaller, focused stories are what made the Aliens, Predator and other licensed comics over at Dark Horse so great - they weren't trying to reinvent anything, they were never trying to outdo the movies they were spinning off from, they just told good stories set in those universes. Devils in the Desert (so far) sits right along side those sorts of books. Hopefully, the standard this is setting and other licensed books IDW put out there (like Silent Hill: Past Life) will carry across into the next story and make them take a harder look at some of their less successful but of equal potential licensed properties, because I think if that standard can be maintained the eye-rolling and automatic assumptions that come with many licensed titles will decrease substantially.

I'm giving this four and a half out of five. It's just as exciting as you'd expect it to be, and all the pieces are in place for an awesome book, but it does bum my inner child a bit that there aren't any other dinosaurs present (so far, but the T-Rex flashback was nice!). What I applaud here is the effort Byrne has gone to on a licensed book is on par with the man's own creator-owned material.
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