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This Week's Comics Rock #4: Super Dinosaur #2

Super Dinosaur #2
Vital Stats:
Publisher: Image
Release Date: 5-25-11
Author: Robert Kirkman
Artis & Colorist: Jason Howard
Cover Artist: Jason Howard
Cover Price: $2.99
Paul's Grade: B+
Some people just get why people love the comic book genre. These select few authors understand the melodrama, the supermorals and the four-color insanity that we shell out money monthly for. One of this small group is Robert Kirkman. The larger populace has been exposed to Mr. Kirkman due to the TV-adaptation of his original (and still ongoing) comic series the Walking Dead. But as awesome as Walking Dead is in my opinion his greatest work is his original (and still ongoing) series Invincible. It lives up to its tag-line "The Best Superhero Comic Book in the Universe". Robert Kirkman's latest foray into the world of Super Heroes is no less wonderful especially considering it stars a boy and his dinosaur!
Great cover, first of all. Super Dinosaur is in his newly-minted "Arctic Battle Gear" with some awesome, teeth-exposing battle damage. Super Dinosaur cradles his best friend Derek protectively as he wields his laser gatling gun at unseen foes behind the "camera". It's a classic comic tableau made that much better because it's a dinosaur. Last issue introduced us to Derek Dynamo and his best friend Super Dinosaur! He lives in an underground base under Mount Ranier with his father the world-famous Dr. Dynamo. They also just met Bruce and Sarah who are there to help maintain and build new Super Dinosaur armor. All of this is powered and made possible by Dynore, a mysterious and powerful mineral discovered by Dr. Dynamo in Inner-Earth where Dinosaurs still rule!
Look at his little arms on the video game-esque controls!
The relationship between Super Dinosaur ("SD") and Derek is really fun. It's part Lassie & Jeff, part Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, part Jonny Quest & Race Bannon, and part Jimmy Olsen & Superman. SD is a pet, best friend, bodyguard, and hero idol all rolled into one. Their interplay is fancy free and fun-loving. It's replete with the kind of young teen banter that one would expect of Ben 10 or somesuch Cartoon Network toon with a young boy for a protagonist. But it's not bad. It's actually quite entertaining and refreshing. Superheroes tend not to be half as enthusiastic or excited about what they are doing as Derek.
Their relationship is already endearing
Derek also gets some relationship building in with his dear ol' dad. Last issue we found out that Dr. Dynamo is mentally slipping and that Derek has been secretly been finishing his father's projects at night so that he doesn't feel bad. Going through an elderly relative losing his memory I can completely relate to Derek and am a little touched at the sincerity Kirkman does it with (though this is not a major part of the book, it has been touched on each issue briefly). It also adds a beautiful and almost heart-breaking aspect to the story. I (as a seasoned comic reader) fear for Dr. Dynamo's safety in coming issues. I feel he is vulnerable and his death would be a turning point for Derek and SD. I hope I'm wrong and Derek gets many happy years with his dad but I don't have high hopes...
The lab is a great generic Super-Lab they use to study Dynore
In regards to Kirkman getting what comic readers want - Just look at Super Dinosaur! He is almost the embodiment of the Comic Book Genre. He's like Iron Man if he were a dinosaur and he's got a Robin-like sidekick. The shoulder cannons are classic and so are his big hulking arms (which are complimented so brilliantly with the little arms at the controls). We also get to see his "Arctic Attack Gear" when Derek and SD go to Antarctica following a tracking beacon in search of a villain. SD's new suit has a ski mask, goggles, and skis! It's ridiculous and so cool. Plus, they go to assault a secret Antarctic base complete with giant spacecraft and what looks like a reactor. This echoes tons of other franchises from Watchmen to James Bond but with a uniquely Kirkman twist.
The beautiful blues and whites and the enormity of what Derek and SD are racing towards is perfect
Jason Howard (artist and co-creator) does a beautiful job with the landscape and setting. He deserves a lot of credit for the character designs throughout the book as well. I especially like his take on Max Maximus the arch-villain of SD.
"I'll burn the ocean to the ground!" - These are the rants we need more of in comics!
Now, on to the villains! Kirkman serves up a trio of villains in this book and hints at even more. Since the book starts with SD and Derek already having spent years adventuring they have a rogues gallery in place. The primary one is Max Maximus who helped create SD, created the Dino-men, and betrayed Dr. Dynamo when he went evil. He's got a great tattered green labcoat/cloak and an evil-looking robot arm. Classic bald head with a goatee (evil-Spock style) sells the look to the nines. He does villain rants, he's got a room full of viewscreens, and he's got Dino-Henchmen. This guy has been in two issues and already he's got the makings of a great. Seriously, all he needs to do is murder Dr. Dynamo and this guy will be in my top 25. Knowing Kirkman, no matter what Max Maximus will make a huge impression!
He's got a spear made of Dynore
The new villain who is introduced this issue is the Exile and he too knows how to give a villainous rant! He enters with his energy spear crackling and introduces himself in textbook style. His costume is cool (I like his halfcape and his cyclops look) but I could do with some more color. That's just me though. Plus they have Tricerachops (she wields an axe) who Maximus created and now works for the Exile.
There is a lot of character building, Dino Action, and a great fight scene. Super Dinosaur #2 does not fail to impress in the least. I give it a very strong "B" only because Kirkman is obviously still getting the players in place and he's still got lots of exposition to get through. I'm sure by issue #10 this book will be running on all cylinders and will be one of my monthly favorites. That being said this issue never feels slow or too expository. It is fun, exciting, and engaging throughout and is paving the way to yet another entry in the Image hall of fame for Robert Kirkman! Get on board now so that when Showtime makes the Super Dinosaur series in five years you can say "That book's awesome! I've been reading that since issue #2; You should check out the trades!"

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