As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of those mini-comics that came with my He-Man and Super Powers action figures. Providing valuable context for the imaginary adventures I dreamed up on the floor of my bedroom closet as well as a gallery of images suitable for amateur attempts at copying, getting a new issue was almost more exciting than playing with the toy itself. Reading Super Dinosaur: Origin Special, a book that will be offered as part of this Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day, I felt as if I was being transported back to those days.
Save for the cardboard cutout trading card, Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard have created exactly the type of thing you’d have gotten with one of those figures of yore. It’s a simple, colorful romp that clearly lays out the parameters of a heroes-versus-baddies struggle that seems primed for a series of episodic iterations. A boy and his talking dinosaur, who also happens to have a giant set of mechanical arms, protect a secret world beneath the earth’s crust from an evil scientist hell bent on exploiting its miraculous resources. It’s the kind of premise that would have Cartoon Network salivating.
As if the titular dinosaur weren’t enough, younger readers are bound to be drawn in by the relatable voice of the book’s human protagonist. Kirkman’s precocious pre-teen narrates the backstory of his dino-sidekick with the excitement and innocence of a sixth-grader talking about his summer vacation. “I’ve been best friends with SD for as long as I can remember,” he gushes. “He’s just an awesome guy.” What kid wouldn’t eat this stuff up?
Adults, however, are unlikely to find as much food for thought. Unlike the mature subtext that found its way into Super Dinosaur’s full-length premiere, this Origin Special really only goes skin deep. Instead of a story, this comic is primarily a recitation of facts, numerous narrative captions and montage panels taking the place of actual scenes and dialogue. By the end, you’ll be well acquainted with the facts surrounding these characters, but not so much with the characters themselves.
Still, there probably aren’t a lot of free comics being given out this weekend that your children will get a kick out of as much as this one. If they’re lucky, they might even be able to talk you into buying the for-pay issue for which this is essentially an ad, conveniently on sale now wherever quality comics are sold.
What did you think of this book?
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