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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 for another look at Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in the form of licensed comic books published by Topps Comics.
In my previous retro review, I found issue #3 to be much more entertaining than the two previous issues mainly due to the thrills and suspense that were the result of the comic book creators’ interpretation the encounter between Dr. Alan Grant’s group and the Tyrannosaurus Rex at its paddock (with the fence no longer electrified due to Dennis Nedry’s dirty act). While the said comic book still had lots of exposition and a wordy presentation, the pace of the storytelling notably moved a bit faster overall.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Jurassic Park #4, 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 fourth of a 4-issue mini-series based on the Spielberg-directed movie.
The story begins at the ruined side of the Tyrannosaurus Rex paddock. Lawyer Gennaro is dead while Dr. Ian Malcolm got serious injured as a result of being chased by the T. Rex. The same T. Rex is right in front of Dr. Alan Grant and teenager Lex with the flipped, ruined vehicle near them (with Tim still inside). Knowing that the huge dinosaur’s vision is based on movement, Grant tells Lex to stand perfectly still no matter what happens. As they try to make their slow move to safety, the T. Rex suddenly moves the ruined vehicle against them by the wall of the still deactivated fence. While holding Lex with his left arm, Grant grabs a loose cable to break their fall as the vehicle got pushed over the edge. Several feet down, Grant and Lex land safely as the vehicle hits the ground.
Over at Jurassic Park’s control center, John Hammond is outraged over what happened as Nedry left them (secretly carrying the stolen dinosaur embryos) and their safety systems are all down. Hammond dispatches Robert Muldoon to go out and rescue his grandchildren, and Ellie Sattler volunteers to help out. Struggling with the computer, Ray Arnold tells his boss that there is no way to get Jurassic Park back on-line without Nedry.
Elsewhere within the park, Dennis Nedry struggles to find his way to his destination. Suddenly, his vehicle slips and loses traction…
Let me start by stating what is very obvious here….this comic book is easily the most enjoyable and fastest-moving adaptation of the key events of Spielberg’s movie (from the T. Rex encounter until the end of the film) albeit with some signs of rush and creative short-cuts. It is also here where the exposition has been lessened and the creators focused more on adapting the cinematic dialogue and the remaining scenes along with the spectacle. The narrative is clearly rushed and it is amusingly amazing to see how the creators managed to cover the remaining events of the movie (note: Dennis Nedry’s death, Robert Muldoon’s tragic encounter with the raptors, Ellie Sattler’s struggle to reactivate the park’s power system, and the varied encounters with the raptors were included) to fit within the pages of this very comic book. In my reading experience, it still worked.
While it is flawed in its execution, this comic book managed to click as a pay-off to the build-up that happened in the first three issues. There is a decent amount of action and sudden moments of incidents here and there, and still the creators managed to tell their own interpretation of the remaining events from the movie.
Gil Kane’s art on the dinosaurs are somewhat good but in what seems to be a sign of behind-the-scenes production rush, his visual take on the T. Rex’s unexpected heroic moment and struggle with the two raptors was drawn with a lack of precision on size and scale. Such literary translation only made me want to return to the movie itself and replay the said scene (which was climactic cinematically speaking). Surprisingly, Gil Kane managed to visualize a few but noticeable bloody moments particularly with the respective deaths of Dennis Nedry (to the Dilophosaurus) and Robert Muldoon (to the raptors).
As the focus here has always been the adaptation of cinematic events, it is unsurprising that there really was no room for character development. Dr. Grant is the only one who showed any real change from being rough on children (as seen in issue #1) to becoming more caring on them (specifically John Hammond’s grandchildren) due to incidents. All the development on Dr. Grant took four issues both literally and visually. John Hammond could have been developed a lot more if only the dialogue was not too limited with the focus on adapting movie dialogue. Speaking of adaptation, the cinematic error about the instant drop (from the perimeter fence of the T. Rex paddock opposite the road) also made it in this comic book.
Even though it had a rushed narrative, Jurassic Park #4 (1993) ironically managed to be the most enjoyable issue of the 4-issue mini-series adapting the blockbuster movie. It has the most amount of spectacle, more dinosaur visuals for dinosaur enthusiasts to enjoy, and the pace moved much faster. Compared to each of the previous issues, this one was a breeze to read and there were bouts of fun. As a companion piece to the blockbuster movie, the 4-part Jurassic Park movie adaptation mini-series served its purpose to translate its events within the limits of illustrated literature. While it does not obviously capture the magical moments nor the sentimental elements of Spielberg’s work, this mini-series managed to complete its own interpretation ultimately creating stuff that could satisfy the brainy comic book reader, the reader who loves thrills and the reader who is simply obsessed with dinosaurs. It is somewhat symbolic that this final issue had the most fun stuff.
Overall, Jurassic Park #4 (1993) is recommended.
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