Sunday, April 08, 2007

They can't all be gems, I guess

Part of the intent for the inventory of The Last Shortbox that inspired this blog was to gain some understanding into my relationship with comics. I reckoned that looking at what from my once-extensive collection I had felt was worth keeping would give me some insight. With this title, all I got is "What was I thinking?"

Dino Island, 1 and 2 (of two), Feb-Mar 1993
by Jim Lawson; Mirage Publishing

I think I originally picked this up as part of my interest in non-superhero genre comics that were being published in the nineties with some frequency (things like Topps's Zorro series and Rascals in Paradise also come to mind).

The story begins in what I presume is some alternate 1942; our plucky heroine, Amelia (no last name given) is "attempting a trans-Atlantic speed record" in her P51-D Allison (a Mustang fighter) when she flies into the Bermuda Triangle.

In short order, she lands safely on an island, finds dinosaurs, stampedes a herd of triceratops to save them from some velociraptors, adopts one of the triceratopses as a kind of horse, and finds a community of other lost travellers based around the battleship Sturgis, which is moored on the coast. Along the way, she encounters a heart-of-gold resident (who acts as bartender), the hard-as-nails battleship captain (who runs the community), and the requisite professor-who-explains-stuff (who is, of course, short and bespectacled).

The comic does have some neat Dinotopia-style visuals of tame dinosaurs, like this scene of the community salvaging Amelia's plane:

In the second issue, Amelia and the professor investigate a massive monolith in the desert and an alien is captured near town. Amelia enters the monolith in a Heavy Metal-esque sequence illustrated by this (partially cropped) two-page sequence:

Amelia discovers another alien, who reveals that they are on an artificial planet (explained as a competing technology to terraforming) which is generated and maintained by the monolith as a kind of "model home" for prospective buyers. When Amelia returns to town with this news, she finds the alien has been accidentally killed and a flying saucer is attacking. She downs the saucer with her Mustang (although why she took a fully-armed plane on a speed-record flight is beyond me) but the community is practically destroyed. She checks out the monolith; it is sort of melting and not working anymore, and it is starting to get hot on the island.

The end.

That's it: the story doesn't conclude; it just stops. I had to check the issues themselves to see it was a mini-series and that I hadn't just stopped buying it. Maybe it was set-up for a project that never happened.

I don't know why this is in the Shortbox, actually. Unless it's here to show that the spirit of Bob Kanigher was passed on to some indy projects, there's really not a whole lot to recommend it. The art is pretty cool, with a cartoony funk to it, and some of the dinosaur scenes are engaging, but the story is ragged and desultory while the characters are unoriginal (even the aliens are uninspired).

It was probably just that the heroine is an aviator named Amelia.

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