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Review: Super Dinosaur, Vol. 1

Just another tale of a boy and his Tyrannosaurus Rex friend who wears a cybernetic suit that he kicks butt with…

Super Dinosaur

Super Dinosaur, Vol. 1.
Written by Robert Kirkman
Illustrated by Jason Howard
Image Comics, 2012.
Rated E for Everyone

Dinosaur lovers: All you have to know is there’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the book and he wears a cybernetic power suit. Instant. Must. Read. For the rest of you, there’s a rollicking science adventure with vile villains and a good mix of family issues—and, of course, dinosaurs.

Max Maximus is the bad guy of the book, and he’s out to steal the mineral called DynOre, which is named after the discoverer of the mineral, Derek Dynamo’s dad Doctor Dexter Dynamo. Years ago, Max Maximus and Doctor Dynamo were partners, but they parted ways when Max turned evil. The mineral is found only in Inner Earth, hidden land far inside the Earth’s core where dinosaurs still dwell. A piece of DynOre the size of a brick has enough unstable energy in it that it can power a city or destroy it, so it’s up to Doctor Dynamo’s son Derek, a brilliant 10-year-old boy who’s a master scientist, inventor, and genius in his own right, to keep Max Maximus from acquiring any of the DynOre mineral. Aiding Derek is none other than the star of the story: Super Dinosaur, a nine-foot-tall intelligent talking Tyrannosaurus Rex who wears a cybernetic harness that allows his suit of armor to fly, shoot missiles, and much much more. Derek and Super Dinosaur are the best of friends, and together they’re an amazing team able to take on Max Maximus and his mutant humanoid dinosaurs called dino-men. Derek boasts throughout the book that he’s totally awesome, and he certainly is.

Derek lives in a secret facility with Super Dinosaur and Doctor Dynamo, where they are all that stands between evil, but all is not well at their home. Derek is having a hard time constantly repairing Super Dinosaur’s harness, in between creating new weapons, fighting evil dinosaurs, and also helping his father. There’s only so much that a person can do—even though he’s totally awesome. Derek’s father, a once brilliant scientist in his own right, is losing his ability to think. He is no longer able to finish complex mathematical calculations that once were a breeze for him, and Derek secretly corrects them for him at night. Derek hopes to hide this devastating debilitating disease from his father, but soon even his father begins to suspect that he’s losing his ability to think. Also, a new equation has just arrived: The government has sent two technicians, Bruce and his wife Sarah, to help create and tweak Derek’s designs and Super Dinosaur’s harness. The couple and their two teenage daughters Erica and Erin have moved into the Dynamo’s secret home as well. While Derek at first is less than thrilled about this new arrangement, he soon gets along with Erin, who is fascinated living with a talking T-Rex whose favorite food is pie. Erica, on the other hand, could care less about their current living conditions and just wants to go back home. Soon Bruce and Sarah prove their worth to the team with their awesome inventions that help Derek and Super Dinosaur take on the bad guys.

The main goal of the series is to be fun—and it’s just that. Robert Kirkman may be the writer of the Walking Dead comic book, but he’s proven he has fun writing all kinds of comic books, and it shows. All of the bad guy dino-men all have names that are plays on their scientific names: Pterodactyl = Terrordactyl; Brachiosaurus = Brakeosaurus; Triceratops = Tricerachops; Stegosaurus = Dreadosaurus; Dimetrodon = Doometrodon; Ankylosaurus = Painkylosaurus. Sure, they’re corny, but that’s part of the fun. The weapons and other gadgets that Super Dinosaur and Derek use are fun to see in action, from Derek’s robot named “Wheels” that helps him fly, and his arsenal of weapons including sticky bombs, grappling hooks, to of course, Super Dinosaur’s harness that lets him fly, punch, shoot missiles, and more. It’s just loads of fun.

Jason Howard’s art is great. Super Dinosaur, for a lack of a better word, just looks awesome in his cybernetic harness. His tiny arms control giant fists of dinosaur justice and looks like loads of fun. All of the humans are well detailed. Derek looks young and full of confidence; Doctor Dynamo looks feeble and lost; Max Maximus is appropriately evil; the dino-men all look like what would result if Spider-Man’s forgotten foe Stegron the Dino-Man (remember him?) had cohorts from the lands that time forgot.

Though there is plenty of action in the book, there are no deaths. Max Maximus has a robot left arm, and you discover how he got it that way courtesy of Super Dinosaur. You can pretty much figure out what happened to it, but you don’t see it happening.

The key to the series is that it’s supposed to be awesome to a 10-year-old boy—and it is. Derek uses the word all throughout the book and yes, it is pretty awesome. Is it a ground breaking book that will be cherished for generations to come? Probably not, but the series is made to appeal to all young boys and 41-year-old men who grew up watching dinosaur movies and “Land of the Lost” and it does just what it’s supposed to do.

Rock on Super Dinosaur. You are awesome.

Mike Pawuk About Mike Pawuk

Mike Pawuk has been a teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library for over 15 years. A lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels, he was chair for the 2002 YALSA all-day preconference on graphic novels, served as a judge for the Will Eisner Awards in 2009, as well as helped to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee for YALSA. He is the author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, published by Libraries Unlimited in 2006 and is working on a followup to his book.

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