?On the comic book chain of command, stories that heavily involve dinosaurs rank somewhere below those with superheroes and robots, but above westerns and crime books. So, we guess they’re sergeants (of slaughter!). Long used as a go-to storytelling device, dinos even have their own Marvel- and DC-specific locales where heroes are shuttled off to somewhat regularly (the Savage Land and Dinosaur Island, respectively).
But with Robert Kirkman having just launched his latest four-color wet dream, Image’s all-ages Super Dinosaur, we thought the time was right to take a look at the prehistoric hostiles who have made the biggest impact on the comics page… including those who are primed for a comeback after only a single appearance or two. Read on, but make sure Ulysses Bloodstone is on your speed dial, first.
10) The Warbeast
?We kick things off with a single-appearance monstrosity, but one which sprang from the mind of Alan Moore (and penciler Steve Bissette). Seen only in Image’s 1963 #2, the Warbeast (or “Cargo X” as he’s known for most of the story) broke free of his containment unit and battled colorful Spidey/Daredevil hodgepodge the Fury with colorful dialogue to spare. The highly evolved T-Rex-ish brute makes the cut simply because he’s the last surviving dinosaur, and that’s by design: He killed all of the other ones! It’s definitely worth your time and a quarter or two to dig this issue out of a bargain bin, as it’s unlikely a 1963 trade will ever see print (though Bissette claims to own the rights to the Fury these days).
9) Dinosaurs for Hire
?Though their stories weren’t all that memorable, and they’ve been absent from the medium for 17 years, DFH were pretty much the originators when it came to dinosaurs wielding heavy artillery (and wearing cool leather jackets…and eye patches), and the visual goes a long way. Creator Tom Mason (not to be confused with the Tom Mason who acted as Bela Lugosi’s stand-in for Plan 9 From Outer Space) used his scaly mercenaries to spoof everything from Spielberg to Turok to Dark Horse’s “Comics’ Greatest World.” But after a couple of brief series, the last of which had them joining the same Malibu Comics universe as the Protectors and Ex-Mutants, Dinosaurs for Hire got lost in the legal shuffle when Marvel bought Malibu outright in 1993. They haven’t been seen or heard from since (Mason went on to write for several forgettable animated series), but at least they got a Genesis game outta the deal.
?With apologies to Stegron the Dinosaur Man, we went with Marvel’s other man-turns-into-dino douchebag, the X-Men villain dubbed a “pteranodon energy vampire” who has a penchant for wearing Daisy Dukes –and as we learn in his first appearance, 1969’s X-Men #59, he appears to be a Tolkien fan, to boot. In his human form as hypnotherapist Karl Lykos, he’s constantly trying to keep the beast at bay, and spends most of his time hanging out in the Savage Land, no doubt ogling Shanna when Ka-Zar’s off taking a dump. But when the need to be a dick presents itself, Sauron’s associated with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (even though he isn’t a mutant), and more recently, horribly disfigured the double-agent Black Widow with his fire breath (not sure where that power came from) in the pages of New Avengers. Keep in mind, though, this was after she shot him through the head. He survived. So did she.
?Okay, so he doesn’t exactly bear a striking resemblance to anything from Jurassic Park (or even the MST3K favorite King Dinosaur, for that matter), but his last name ends in “saurus,” and he’s freaking scary, so we’ll take him. The oldest member of the Sinestro Corps (one who aged far better than the Anti-Monitor, at that), Borialosaurus is one of the last surviving members of an alien race of carnivorous sea animals who were slain after killing several dozen Guardians of the Universe. He didn’t get a ton of screen time during the Sinestro Corps War storyline, but he does have the dubious honor of being the Yellow Lantern on Qward who held down Kyle Rayner while Sinestro forcibly removed the Ion entity. And nobody likes fishstick fingers clutching them.
?Like Sam Elliott, Gon is something of a goodhearted badass and really, really enjoys having meat for dinner. But the star of Masashi Tanaka’s acclaimed, wordless manga is a carnivore of many contradictions. One minute he’s showing his dominance over a full-grown lion by stomping on its skull, or picking up an elephant off the ground; the next he’s hanging out in a nest with baby birds and adorably waiting to be fed, or frolicking about with bunnies. Though he isn’t the sole dino on this list to appear in a videogame, we’re 100% certain he’s the only one armed with toxic farts (see Tekken 3). Although Sam Elliott can probably claim to have done that, too.
5) Tyrannosaurus Reich
?Another one-and-done bad guy in the vein of the Warbeast, this over-the-top Nazi enforcer had one memorable appearance in the pages of Major Bummer #5. Series artist Doug Mahnke, most likely fully aware that this would be the one opportunity in his career where he’d be asked to illustrate a goose-stepping, battle-scarred carnosaur, pulled out all the stops. Accidentally pulled from his home dimension (a world where Nazi dinosaurs reign supreme!), T-Reich immediately set about wreaking havoc downtown and bellowing threats in German but was sadly thwarted by a playful overgrown housecat who bit the hell out of his tail. How was this book ever canceled? And can writer John Arcudi bring him into a B.P.R.D. book somehow?
4) Old Lace
?Leave it to Brian K. Vaughan to name a dinosaur after a Frank Capra movie. And as much as it must suck to have supervillain parents, the Runaways‘ Gert (a.k.a. Arsenic) didn’t have it all bad, as hers were at least thoughtful enough to genetically engineer a protective Deinonychus to share a mental link and obey her commands (although maybe they should have thought twice about the whole “if one gets injured, the other does, too” part). But despite her surprisingly resiliency after Gert took a dagger to the chest, and later soundly defeating a few members of the Wrecking Crew, Old Lace met her own untimely end while protecting fellow Runaway Klara, shielding her body from an unmanned aerial drone. Sacrificing herself for the member Joss Whedon created for the team? Figures.
3) Grimlock (as Written by Simon Furman)
?It seemed like a cheat to include dinosaur characters that weren’t originally created for comics (and even more of a cheat to include one that’s an alien robot first, and a dinosaur second), but we’re making a special case for Grimlock… the one fleshed out by longtime Transformers comic writer Simon Furman, anyway. While Bob Budiansky took first crack at the Dinobots leader for Marvel’s book back in the ’80s (and gave the Dinobots a “trapped in a tar pit” origin of his own design), it was Furman, an unabashed Grimlock fan, who made him a true strike-team commander with a distinct sense of loyalty and compassion for his troops. Not that he’s a big softie, mind you. In a solo story in an issue of Transformers Spotlight, he locked horns with Scorponok, who’s obviously in a different weight class, all by his lonesome. It’s the not size of the dog in the fight…
2) Henry Phage
?Not as obscure as our one-hit wonders, this Neil Gaiman creation (but written by Rick Veitch and then Paul Jenkins) appeared in the little remembered Teknophage series from Tekno Comix (the same publisher who lured Leonard Nimoy, Gene Roddenberry and Isaac Asimov in the mid-’90s). Without a doubt the snazziest dresser on this list (sorry, Dinosaurs for Hire), the 65-million-year-old Phage is the ruler of numerous worlds (after discovering wormholes and creating his own alchemy-based technology), and lives the high life in a steam-powered, massive mobile building that gathers up workers whose souls power its furnaces. Hard to tell this is a Neil Gaiman concept, eh? Sadly, Phage hasn’t been seen in a while; the Tekno Comix rights are now owned by something called Hollywood Media Corp. (the most made-up-sounding name for a company ever) but the rights to Phage apparently didn’t carry over. Hopefully Gaiman has them and will revisit this incessantly intriguing predator soon.
1) Devil Dinosaur
?Arguably the most infamous dinosaur in comics next to that T-Rex in the Batcave, Devil Dinosaur and his primate pal Moon-Boy were spawned from the mind of Jack Kirby during his late-’70s Marvel stint… which was kind of all over the map. Fun runs on Captain America and Black Panther went hand in hand with oddball choices like a 2001 continuation (that introduced Machine Man) and this clearly batshit-insane title about a dinosaur who teams up with a monkey to battle “hill folk,” giant spiders and more crazy crap.
?But D.D.’s nine-issue run (conceived as a way to pitch a new animated series) has its own special charm, and in the decades since he’s tussled with Godzilla, teamed up with Spider-Man, accidentally a killed mutant lobster by stepping on it (absolutely true), been the basis for a movie that Ben Grimm crashed, and more recently has surfaced in books like Heroes for Hire and Nextwave (said to be a clone, as he talks about eating Moon-Boy and how gross he was). If you’re not familiar with the big red bastard’s exploits, pick up the hardcover omnibus collecting the Kirby material (and grab a bag of shrooms while you’re at it) and Eric Powell’s 2005 one-shot. where Devil goes toe to toe (and primary color to primary color) with the Hulk.