A Look Back at Jurassic Park #1 (1993)

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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 which was a wild time for entertainment not only because of the comic book collection craze of the time but also because the whole world marveled at Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi film Jurassic Park which was simply unavoidable.  

Jurassic Park was released into cinemas worldwide at a time when computer-generated imagery (CGI) was advanced enough to show and animated dinosaurs in a photo-realistic way on the big screen. Unlike films of today, CGI in Spielberg’s movie was sparingly used and they cleverly used computer graphics to show dinosaurs in their entirety especially on really wide shots that literally made human actors look really small compared to them. What added also to the photorealism of the dinosaurs was the use of animatronics (read: physical models) when capturing close-ups of the dinosaurs. For millions of people, Jurassic Park was a dream come true for those who wanted to see very convincing and lively dinosaurs on the big screen in ways that stop motion animation could not do.

As mentioned earlier, Jurassic Park was unavoidable as it was everywhere from the cinemas to the TV and print ads, to the stores that had licensed toys and merchandise of the movie, to the book stores that sold copies of the novel written by Michael Crichton, and also in the comic book stores that had copies of the comic book adaptation published by Topps Comics.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Jurassic Park #1, published in 1993 by Topps Comics with a story written by Walter Simonson and drawn by Gil Kane with ink work done by the late George Perez. This comic book was the first of a 4-issue mini-series based on the Spielberg movie.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at Isla Nublar, an island located over a hundred miles west of the nation of Costa Rica. Uniformed men and heavy equipment operators carefully moved a heavy containment unit that has a dinosaur inside. They are trying to connect the unit into an unusual looking containment facility which has vegetation inside. Their objective was to move the dinosaur into the facility and that includes lifting up the containment unit’s door.

Suddenly, the containment unit shakes as its door opened causing one man (who was responsible for opening the door from the top) falls down. It turns out, the dinosaur inside played a trick on them and it grabbed and pulled the fallen man inside which leads to tragedy.

A short time later, lawyer Gennaro arrives at an amber mind in the Dominican Republic searching for John Hammond for an important matter about a $20 million lawsuit from the family of the injured worker and an insurance company that thinks the accident raises serious safety questions about Jurassic Park.

Over at Montana, Dr. Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are conducting work at a dig site not knowing that an unexpected visit will happen to them…

Quality

Nothing like entering a large gate going into a theme park.

I will start with what is very obvious about this first issue of the mini-series adapting the events of Steven Spielberg’s movie. This is one very wordy comic book filled with lots of details spilled all over by lots of expository dialogue clearly sourced from the movie. To be clear, this comic book follows the movie’s opening scene until the start of the iconic scene in which Dr. Grant, Ellie and Dr. Ian Malcolm saw the large dinosaur for the first time ever (note: this scene stunned and amazed viewers back then).

As the comic creators really pushed themselves to fill in the key details straight out of the movie most of the time, this comic book lacks spectacle and it is unsurprising that it has very few images of dinosaurs.

Like most comic book adaptations of movies, there were certain cosmetic differences between scenes adapted from the movie such as the traitor Dennis Nedry meeting with Lewis Dodgson in a very urban city street setting (as opposed to the location with lots of trees and vegetation in the film). Also notably different looking was Dr. Grant’s place where he and Ellie first meet John Hammond (in the movie, Dr. Grant’s place looked more lived-in).

In what looked like the creators’ attempt to emphasize something more than what was shown in the movie, the scene in which Dr. Grant scares a kid by showing what a Velociraptor would do to him was visualized with two panels of a dream sequence.

Gil Kane’s art looks good here but don’t expect to see the characters resembling their cinematic counterparts at all. I can only guess that Topps Comics had no authority to capture the likeness of the actors for this adaptation. Dr. Grant does not look like Sam Neill. Ellie Sattler looks nothing like Laura Dern.  

Conclusion

This is easily the most entertaining and the most intriguing page from the comic book. The comic book creators succeeded in making Dr. Alan Grant scare the kid more convincingly than the movie.

Jurassic Park #1 (1993) is not a fun read due to its heavy load of expository dialogue and explanations of key details. This issue, to say the least, was done mainly to get readers oriented with terms and details in order to help them understand Jurassic Park’s concepts. Due to the exposition and explanations, the storytelling here moved at a slow space which ironically provides readers opportunities to understand Jurassic Park. The way this comic book script was written, there was clearly too little space for entertainment. If you are the brainy type of reader or if you like junk science mixed with real science explained, then this one can still entertain you. When it comes to visuals, Gil Kane’s art made this one attractive and also established this comic book’s own look.

Overall, Jurassic Park #1 (1993) is satisfactory.

+++++

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