Monday, June 13, 2011

VDA: The Fantastic Four's Mesozoic Mambo!

I love comics. I think superhero comics are pretty cool, too, but I am not what you would call a connoisseur of the subgenre. My knowledge of the X-Men, for example, stems mainly from the '90s cartoon series and the recent string of movies. I have a general knowledge of most of the big superheroes, thanks in large part to Wikipedia, but I find myself overwhelmed by the twisting, fragmenting storylines most of them have been a part of over the decades. That's the case for the Fantastic Four, though I've always appreciated them.

In today's second Vintage Dinosaur Art Post, the Fantastic Four meet with a host of Mesozoic monsters in a story written and drawn by Walt Simonson. Why two posts today? Can we chalk it up to the extreme generosity of your loving bloggers rather than miscommunication?

Fantastic Four 345

Fantastic Four 345, published in October 1990, begins with the heroes, accompanied by Sharon Ventura, "The She-Thing," skipping through time on Reed Richards' time sled. Over their adventures, the Fantastic Four have lost their powers. Their trip back to the time they call home is interrupted by some sort of storm in time, which causes them to crash land on a jungle island. Soon, they meet a US Army detachment, which arrived on the island a mere six hours prior. The somewhat less fantastic Fantastic Four try to persuade the soldiers that they are who they say they are, but the argument is interrupted... by a rampaging Spinosaurus!

fantastic four1

After Ben Grimm blows the spinosaur's brains out with a rocket pistol, the rest of the comic consists of the Fantastic Four and the Army trying to find shelter and not get killed by dinosaurs. Throughout, we're treated to a refreshingly post-renaissance cast of saurian villains. It's refreshing to see that Simonsen was up to speed with the new vision of dinosaur life. Though these animals are definitely monsters, they're not the brainless brutes of atomic age B-Movies.

Deinonychus even has feathers, as shown on this page in which a pack of them charge a bany Mamenchisaurus. Luckily for readers not as schooled in paleontology Reed Richards provides play-by-play.

fantastic four2

After the heroes bunk down (and Ben Grimm gets lucky with Sharon Ventura), the camp is invaded by a stampeding Triceratops.

Charging Trike!

But a fortunately mostly-naked Reed Richards is on the case, running around in his skivvies and using his Fantastic Four uniform to persuade the angry Trike away from camp.

Mr. Fantastic wards off a Triceratops... in his skivvies.

Reed Richards in his Hanes doesn't scare off the Deinonychus pack, however, and a poor soldier named Flattop is the victim of a brutal assault.

Deinonychus attack!

Sharon Ventura and Johnny Storm vs a Deinonychus pack

It looks like a losing battle as the team and the boys in uniform are surrounded by snarling raptors. That's when Ben Grimm, wearing his amazing Thing suit, enters the fray. It is now, verily, clobberin' time. He makes short work of the depraved dromaeosaurs. Simonsen engages in a bit of Crichtonian speculative anatomy, giving Deinonychus a detachable tail.

The Thing vs Raptors!

The Thing vs Raptors!

The issue ends with a promise of "even bigger dinosaurs, even deadlier peril," and I'd love to get my hands on issue 346. If you've got it, and don't mind scanning it, share it with the Vintage Dinosaur Art pool, won't you?


  1. Two VDA posts in one day? I think we might be spoiling people...(although yours is miles better, of course)

  2. Yours is better, if only for grossly inflating our readership!

  3. I love the panel with the Mamenchisaurus. And feathered dromaeosaurs must have been a real rarity in the 90s!


    Clearly Ceratopsian is very hard to write phonetically.


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