Kirby's Late Period

Devil Dinosaur #4-7 (part 1)

Devil Dinosaur #4 cover

"Object from the Sky"/"Journey to the Center of the Ants!"/"Eev!"/"Demon-Tree!"

Written and drawn by Jack Kirby
Inked and lettered by Mike Royer
Colored by Petra Goldberg and George Roussos

In Devil Dinosaur #4 the Valley of Flame is invaded by aliens intent on killing all the dinosaurs and protohumans. Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur lead the resistance against the invaders, ultimately destroying them in issue #6 (though they have to deal with a stray survivor in #7). Kirby's inclusion of aliens in a prehistoric setting is utterly baffling — he's only four issues into the series and he's already exhausted all the dramatic possibilities of 65,000,000 B.C.? At the same time, it's perfectly in tune with Kirby's existing sensibilities: he has a story to tell, and since he's working on Devil Dinosaur it's going to be a Devil Dinosaur story, dammit!

The structure of these issues really highlights the deficiencies of Kirby's writing. Moon Boy is captured about halfway through issue #3, which forces Kirby to invent some new characters to hang around with Devil. At the same time, Moon Boy's capture serves no narrative purpose; the other characters could care less about rescuing him, and the segments of the stories told from his vantage point don't reveal anything of interest about the aliens. Moon Boy's replacements are much more interesting characters, though completely extraneous to Devil's plot thread.

Perhaps the most unforgiveable offense is that the defeat of the aliens comes out of nowhere: Devil destroys them with a swarm of giant ants that hadn't been seen before the story and haven't been seen since. Why the giant ants are a threat to aliens but stampeding herds of dinosaurs aren't, I have no idea...

Overall, this is a terrible story with a meandering plot that could have benefitted from a more rigorous story structure. Oh well. At least the aliens have a neat look...

Devil Dinosaur #5, pages 20, panel 1

Devil Dinosaur #5, p. 20

These guys are some of the neatest things to come out of Kirby's late period drawing style. They're composed entirely of very basic geometric shapes, squiggly blobs of ink and a few lines. And yet, they possess a monumental solidity and presence that makes them leap right off the page. And even better, they're fun to draw — my sketchbook is filled with page after page of doodles of these guys.

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