Monday, 13 July 2015

Age Of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #1 - Dark Horse Comics

“Basically a western that stars a samurai… who happens to be a forty-foot long predatory dinosaur” this publication by “Dark Horse Comics” is innovative not only for featuring the heavily stylised storyboard artwork of creator Ricardo Delgado. But for the fact that it doesn’t contain either a single word or sound effect throughout its twenty-four page journey across Cretaceous Africa.

Fortunately what it does encompass are some truly exquisitely detailed drawings of the flora and fauna of a “bustling, thriving and treacherous world” of giant reptiles and an action-packed captivating excursion alongside a “tough, lone Spinosaurus Aegyptiacus”. Indeed the sheer amount of things happening within the tiniest of the Costa Rican artist’s panels is unbelievable, and can actually prove so overwhelming that new elements to the textless story can be found even after the third or fourth reading.

Admittedly bibliophiles wanting a bit more to their narratives than just a succession of pictures may well be able to argue that at its most basic level this magazine is simply about a huge ‘spined lizard’ spending a day of its life eating fish and fending off threats. However there is so very much more to Delgado’s storytelling, even down to the “Disney” production designer’s ability to imbue the creatures he illustrates with characters all of their own… even down to a pair of claw-snapping crustaceans trying to catch a small insect whilst precariously balancing upon a branch floating down the river.

Indeed considering the sheer number of different dinosaurs, fish and birds which the writer incorporates into Issue One of “Age Of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians”, the attention to behavioural detail is incredible. Not only does the scarred main protagonist act with a persuasively believable animal intellect, picking his prey carefully amidst waters teeming with fat-bodied giant groupers and panic-stricken snapping-turtles. But so too do the creatures which the sharp-toothed behemoth encounters. Whether they be a pair of velociraptors inadvertently running into the Spinosaurus whilst tussling between themselves over a leg shank, or a reckless meat-eating carnosaur wildly fleeing a herd of sauropods it had unwisely attacked earlier.

Dishearteningly not everything works as well as Delgado presumably hoped however. The California-based penciller’s ‘thunder lizards’ appear far too reminiscent of something from the live action computer animated adventure film “Dinosaur” by “Walt Disney Pictures” to be taken seriously. Especially when the group’s leader appears a little too ‘human-like’ with its ‘double-take’ at the semi-aquatic "anti-hero" swimming past it.
Story, Art and Dinosaur Color Concepts: Ricardo Delgado, and Colors: Ryan Hill

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