Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert #4 (2011)
By: Tristan Jones on April 26, 2011  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Cover Art
Writer: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne
Publisher: IDW
Well, I sure didn't see that coming!

If you read my review of the previous issue of Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert #3 you'll know that I thought that issue was much more conclusive to the core story presented by the first two issues. It was the kind of thing I'd expect to see in the final chapter than the one leading into it. That said, it made me more eager to read this final chapter, and man, it's pretty insane.

Spoiler alerts on already, so if you don't want this book ruined I'd suggest maybe heading out and buying it now, because I can't really talk about it without bringing up a couple of things that'll potentially ruin the first three issues (as well as this one) for you. The book's good. If you dug it up to this point, you'll dig the ending but from here on out - spoilers!

So, I said in the review of issue three that the only things I knew to expect of this issue were planes and polar bears. We definitely get both, and there are a couple of other surprises in there as well, but none are as shocking as what follows a double page spread near the middle of the issue. I'm going to say it, so if you're still teetering on the edge of "do I want to know or not" now's the time to decide…! Still here? Alrighty! Our lead character gets his head taken off! After everything he's been through -- even surviving a plane crash in this issue -- Sheriff Tobias gets his head torn off by the final surviving pteranodon. It's a pretty gutsy move, killing off your lead like this, but strangely enough, it works! I will admit, it is a bit of a bummer because it doesn't feel like you've known him that long and you really do start to dig the character, and I'd love to know why Byrne chose to take him out. The follow-on of that all works great within the story, I'd just be very interested to see if that was the intention the whole way through.

Something else I can say I wasn't expecting when I first started reading this was seeing a pteranodon fight a polar bear in a zoo enclosure. For those who haven't read the other issues, this one opens with our two lead characters chasing the final three pterosaurs in a light plane. They gun down one but another gets caught in the propeller, forcing the plane to come down in the middle of a zoo. From the moment that happens, things get pretty crazy (though not necessarily in a bad way) and one of our leads ends up inside a polar bear enclosure with the raging pterosaur hot on her heels. Though while I didn't mind the escalation of events, the direction taken in terms of how these things play out left me a little cold.

John Byrne's a very gifted writer and artist. I've spoken before about his run on Superman being a modern classic, but I had a bit of a problem with the dialogue leading up to the polar bear sequence. She's basically speaking her thoughts. I'm fine with this sort of thing in superhero books but it feels out of place in this. If this were a Jurassic Park movie (which is something Byrne seems to have been modelling much of this story's presentation on), there wouldn't be this kind of directionless dialogue during an action sequence as intense as this would be. The character would clam up and get concentrate on the problem at hand, maybe following it up with a clever one-liner. In my mind, captions might have been a better choice, but that's just my opinion and others reading it might feel differently. The logic behind the character's choice to get inside the polar bear enclosure is also a little questionable. It's understandable, but it's still pretty insane. I would've been more comfortable with her winding up in the enclosure simply through blind misfortune during the pursuit as it doesn't call the logic into question. There's also an odd moment of almost unnecessary character development at the very start of the book, but still, it's all in fun, and it is definitely a lot of fun.

The story caps off rather nicely in spite of those hiccups, and the unfortunate event mentioned in the spoiler laden third paragraph allows for this and the whole thing wraps up with the rather amusing idea that those involved and many who weren't could be in for worse in the years to come.

All in all, this has been a really fun read, and I've probably said it in each of the reviews, but this is a great example of how to handle a licensed comic. You take key elements of what made the license popular and find a new story to tell with those things, and most importantly, you treat the license with the respect it deserves and give readers or fans something they haven't seen before but still feels like it's a part of that world they know and love. I look forward to seeing what comes next!
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