Comic Review: Devil Dinosaur – The Jack Kirby Era

Published: 1978-1979
Written by: Jack Kirby
Art by: Jack Kirby

Marvel Comics, 165 Pages

Review:

I always thought that Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur looked like a cool comic book for its time. Mainly, because it featured a badass red T-Rex-looking dino with a little caveman dude riding on his back. I never picked up and actually read any of these until now, though.

So working my way towards being a Kirby completist, at least with his Marvel and DC work, I figured that reading Devil Dinosaur was long overdue. Plus, the entire run is only nine issues and clocks in at just 165 pages – a nice afternoon read.

What I wasn’t expecting but found surprising is that this feels like a sort of spiritual successor to some of the ideas, concepts and narrative style of Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a comic series that went beyond just the story of the famous film and tied together stories from Earth’s prehistoric past and its possible future in the stars.

Where Machine Man spun-off from 2001, after Marvel lost the license to continue that series, Devil Dinosaur picked up where 2001 left off in how it focused on prehistoric era characters and their eventual confrontation with cool-looking aliens from outer space that were very much Kirby creations. I’d say that makes this more of a real successor to 2001 than Machine Man, which became more of a sci-fi superhero series tied to regular Marvel continuity, leaving behind its 2001 origins.

In fact, one alien group, whose story takes up three issues, are very reminiscent of the Celestials that Kirby introduced in The Eternals. So while this is directly tied to the Marvel universe, especially since the Devil Dinosaur character exists in modern continuity, it also feels tethered to The Celestials, Machine Man and again, 2001: A Space Odyssey. That all just makes Devil Dinosaur a weird, unique series.

It would’ve been interesting to see where this could have gone had it lasted more than nine issues. Hell, I wouldn’t have been shocked if this would’ve somehow crossed over with Conan or Red Sonja because it already bridges a gap between multiple franchises, even if it does so indirectly.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Jack Kirby stuff from the ’70s, specifically his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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