I'm a little behind because of the move and the almost five months it took to get the internet back, so I'm a little late with this one, hence why I'm reviewing two issues instead of one. I've had a couple people ask me what I think of IDW's latest romp in the Jurassic Park universe, Dangerous Games.
Plot: An undercover agent named Daniel Espinoza is trying to take a down a drug cartel from the inside and everything had been going fine until he's found out and taken to the cartel leader's private island. There's just one problem...said island is Isla Nublar aka Jurassic Park. The cartel's leader leaves Espinoza in the jungles with only a hunting knife and gives him 24 hours to survive before the leader's right hand man hunts down Espinoza for himself. Espinoza then witnesses a dinosaur attack and takes down a Parasaurolophus with his knife. Unfortunately, his would-be meal is interrupted by an Allosaurus coming to eat him, but when Espinoza trips on a log and is knocked out, a pack of Velociraptors come and kill the Allosaurus with someone announcing that they have a guest. He comes to in the Raptor's nest where there is a redheaded woman, Dr. Frances White, nursing his wounds and offering him food. She explains that she was hired to study how the dinosaurs behaved, and even grew quite attached to the Velociraptors with them imprinting on her as their mother. However, White was growing tired of how the men used brute force to handle the dinosaurs and when she approached Peter Ludlow about it, he basically went Chris Brown on her, so she uncaged her Raptors to stop him from hurting her. Ludlow pulls a gun and begins firing at the Raptors, one of the bullets grazing White's cheek and they escape into the jungle with White vowing never to live amongst humans again. Espinoza insists that he has a job to do and if he has to do it alone, so be it, but White says that she'll help but they need guidance first. They go to a boneyard and White hides as the fucking T-Rex steps out and eyes Espinoza. Taken aback by the Rex's size and intimidation, Espinoza freezes, so the T-Rex looses sight of him and walks off. White then explains that the T-Rex judges the souls of everyone on the island and needed to see if Espinoza was worth helping. Meanwhile, the leader's right hand man decides to start hunting down Espinoza early and White's pack of Velociraptors attack them. White runs in to help but is caught in a net, so Espinoza tries to cut her down only to find himself looking down the barrel if the right hand man's gun as the goon insists they begin the hunt.
My apologies for the wall-o-text there, but I did just have to sum up two issues of a five issue series. So...what do I think of it? Well...let's see...first off, I'm not too crazy about the fact that this story is on Isla Nublar and not Isla Sorna for I am in the crowd that considers the deleted scene from The Lost World where they explain the first island was destroyed canon, so unless Dangerous Games is a prequel to TLW, which it gives no indication that it is, then I'm not impressed. However, the argument can be made that the comics do not follow the film canon. Fine, then I'm not terribly impressed that Dangerous Games sticks a middle finger to the Topps comics from the mid-90s where the U.S. Military assumed control of Isla Nublar and was using it as a research facility. Another thing that sorta makes me scratch my head is that supposedly this drug cartel leader is paying off someone in the U.N. and that's how he was able to buy the island so easily. If the U.N. knew what was on the island and consider it a big enough deal that, I dunno, the fucking U.N. needs to be involved with it, wouldn't they be a TAD suspicious that it suddenly dropped off their radar of importance?
Another thing that I don't like is the Frances White character. Sure, my inner teen's tongue is wagging at her flowing red locks and super-heroine figure, but this lady is fucking insane. I mean, living with Velociraptors? Creatures that have been dead for how many millions of years that we have little to no idea how their brains worked, and she's just shacking up with them?! Let me remind everyone of something: the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park are wild animals, creatures that operate on their own natural instinct, which at times, is really goddamned unpredictable! You know that film Grizzly Man? Here's the sequel: Raptor Woman, and I won't be the least bit surprised if they turn out to have the same ending. I think writer Erik Bear was watching Godzilla: The Series when he came up with this idea.
Now let's talk about that bit with the T-Rex. Another reason that goes to show you that White is either insane for a really stupid scientist. "She judges the souls of everyone on the island?" "Only the ones she deems worthy survive?" Really, folks? This is the angle they're going with? Yes, dinosaurs are fascinating and what was accomplished at Jurassic Park was nothing short of a scientific miracle, but let's not make them out to be things that they aren't! There's nothing magical or godly about the T-Rex, save for its size and power. The only reason why the Rex didn't chomp down on Espinoza is because he stood perfectly still while facing the T-Rex because he was in awe of it. Good for him, because the laws of Jurassic Park dictate that the T-Rex's sight was based on movement; freeze and you'll be okay, provided she doesn't smell you. If White really was hired to study the behavior of the dinosaurs on the island, either she just didn't get to the T-Rex before she ditched humanity or living alone with a pack of Dromaeosaurs has really screwed with her head.
There's two last things I want to discuss. 1) If this story takes place on Isla Nublar, why is there such an inconsistency with not only what dinosaurs were on the island going from the first film to this comic, but with how said dinosaurs actually look going from first film to this comic? I say this because in Dangerous Games, there are appearances from Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Pterosaurs (very faintly, but they're there), as well as a couple of dinosaurs that I have absolutely no idea what they hell they are due to their overabundance of feathers and odd color patterns. I know that the whole feathers thing goes with current paleontological theories, but if this is supposed to be on Isla Nublar, shouldn't the dinosaurs actually LOOK like they did in the film? There were no feathered dinosaurs in the first Jurassic Park, so what the hell are they doing here? Has so much time passed since the first film that the Velociraptors evolved feathers? Can such an evolutionary twist occur in 18 years or less (if this does turn out to be a prequel to The Lost World)? Furthermore, where in the blue hell did all these other dinosaurs come from? Did the drug cartel hire a team of geneticists so they could breed the other embryos in the lab so the goons would have something to shoot at? What in the fuck?!
Finally, the last thing that I want to talk...nononono, lemme rephrase that, the last thing I want to rant about (that's better) is the artwork. Just take a look at it. While it's not Redemption bad, although that's not hard, Dangerous Games still takes the same trend that most Jurassic Park comics do by having pretty good cover art but questionable interior art. This thing looks like a Jurassic Park anime, which is just as much fail as manga Wolverine. Not only did I keep thinking that one of the characters was gonna shout "OVER NINE THOUSAANNNNNNND" at any second, but the art has these weird proportion issues where the size of some of the dinosaurs will vary from panel to panel which certainly doesn't help with the fact that they look like shit to begin with.
The first time I read issues 1 & 2 of Dangerous Games, I thought it was okay, but then again it was like 7am and I hadn't gone to bed yet. Upon reading it again from an analytical point of view, I am thoroughly unimpressed with this story arc. As much as Jurassic Park: Dangerous Games has failed to wow me but has pissed me off instead, this comic still isn't as bad as Jurassic Park: Redemption. Thankfully, Dangerous Games hasn't raped my childhood and then spat on the quivering remains...yet. Here's hoping the next three issues turn it around, but something in the back of my head is telling me not to hold my breath.
EDIT: Turns out that this comic takes place in 2012, 11 years after the events of the films, so yeah, this book can suck it. Also, I'm not reviewing the final three issues because they bring nothing new to the table. I wouldn't invest in this story unless you are a hardcore JP fan, and even then, I'd be having second thoughts...