Powerful Panels: Devil Dinosaur #4 by Jack Kirby

The first time I happened upon Devil Dinosaur was after flipping through the Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. Volume 2 trade, where after several splash pages of the team fighting through bizzare enemies (like a bunch of monkies and and a big-ass gorilla dressed like Wolverine and, guh, snakes on planes) they run into a red tyrannosaurus rex dressed like a kind of dandy nazi, holding a pistol and a flute of champagne. Immediately, I was sold. And oh, no big deal, but his name is DEVIL DINOSAUR. How great is that? Flash forward to a couple months later and I find the Double D Omnibus at a comic store in North Carolina, and knowing that the real Devil Dinosaur probably wouldn't be quite as dashing as I would like, I still figured red T-Rex with a little monkey guy is something I can get behind.

Turns out, the real Devil Dinosaur is kind of awful. The Omnibus is composed of nine issues, and until issue four, it's just a lot of cavemen talking like cavemen (i.e. really obtuse and awkward) and like, making traps out of pits covered in leaves and punching each other and stuff. In the second issue Devil Dinosaur inexplicably starts to be drawn with four fingers instead of three, giving him these stupid almost human hands, which gives Kirby the idea to start drawing his arms longer (sometimes) so he can occasionally grab things and flex to psyche out his enemies.

The panel up top is not powerful in a visually impressive or important narrative way, but in the sense that from this one panel, you know exactly what you're getting into with Devil Dinosaur. Even before reading the word ballons, I laughed at how ridiculous a face he's making, but then not only is this goofy wall-eyed gesture supposed to be taken in stride, it's supposed to be a look of deep understanding. You can also see his creepy man-hand and his arm at one of its many lengths throughout the comic.

To be fair, though, since this is from the issue where things start to pick up, there are some actually impressive displays of Kirby's work. The issue starts with a two-page spread of Moon-Boy's (Devil Dinosaur's fellow outcast companion) premonition of the dangers which are to come...from space! Maybe Kirby figured out that the only thing that can make cavemen exciting is the inclusion of alien robots and psychedelic dream sequences?

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