Voracious by Action Lab Entertainment (2015 onward)

VoraciousCover blurb

Haunted by the death of his sister, NYC Chef Nate Willner has lost his desire to cook. Forced to move back to his tiny hometown in Utah, Nate’s life is quickly becoming a dead end. But when he unexpectedly inherits a time travel suit that takes him to the age of dinosaurs, Nate’s passion for cooking is reignited! With a little help from his knife-wielding Grandmother Maribel, and friends Starlee and Captain Jim, Nate opens a restaurant that secretly serves dinosaur meat. Can he survive long enough to make it a success and turn his life around?

My thoughts

Most works of fiction bringing together dinosaurs and people usually have the former eating the latter. Voracious is one of the few examples of a story about people who eat dinosaurs – which, come to think of it, would probably be the more likely result if the two were to meet.

Voracious is a comic book series written by Markisan Nazo with art by Jason Muhr. It is published by Action Lab Entertainment, a small publisher that apparently specializes in offbeat comic titles. As of this post, the series just ended its first four-issue story arc, with the creators promising to launch their second story arc either later this year or early next year. Despite the presence of time travel and dinosaurs, Voracious really isn’t as much sci-fi adventure story as it is television melodrama, focusing on the lives of its attractive young protagonists.

Nate Willner is a former big-city chef of Native American descent who moved back to his hometown in Utah after his sister was killed in a restaurant fire. His life has hit the skids, but luckily he has his elderly grandmother Maribel and his life-long friend Starlee to look after him. He has also inherited $500,000 and a secret lab from his reclusive and recently deceased uncle. During a visit to his new property,  Nate finds a modified diving suit that transports him back to late Cretaceous North America. He is stomping around in the prehistoric past when he is attacked by a Quetzalcoatlus that he promptly kills with a flamethrower, leading to a surprising discovery: Dinosaurs (and pterosaurs) are delicious! Soon afterward, Nate opens a restaurant stocked with meat from dinosaurs he hunts in the Cretaceous. The restaurant is an immediate success, but how long will Nate be able to keep his secret? Can he ever get over his guilt about his sister’s death? Will he reciprocate Starlee’s obvious love for him? And won’t changing the past have consequences for the present?

The neat thing about Voracious is it doesn’t go the obvious route for stories of this type. Most comic book series would have been content with a simpler tale about a time traveler who fights dinosaurs. Nazo and Muhr want to tell a more complex narrative. That is not to say Voracious is high literature. It is soap opera, but it is entertaining soap opera, with likable protagonists and a good sense of humor. My biggest complaint so far is the first four issues are really just the opening chapter of a much larger story rather than a self-contained arc. I’m worried the series will get canceled before the creators have had a chance to finish what they started, given Voracious isn’t the type of tale that normally attracts comic book fans. (No female superheroes in tight spandex outfits or over-the-top violence.)

The art is competent if nothing to write home about. Human characters look a bit stiff, lacking the dynamism of living beings. The same is true of the dinosaur depictions. I get the sense the artist is still perfecting his craft, so it will be interesting to see how the illustrations evolve as the series continues.

Nitpicking aside, Voracious is a comic I plan to continue following. It’s quirky and I appreciate that it’s trying to do something different. I just hope sales are strong enough to allow the creators to finish the tale they want to tell.

Trivia

  • The author’s website is markisan.com while the artist’s website is jasonmuhr.com. Both contain examples of artwork from the series.
  • Voracious isn’t the first comic book about time travelers who harvest dinosaurs for meat. As far as I can tell, that distinction goes to Flesh, which first appeared in the British anthology comic 2000AD in 1977. If the title sounds familiar, that’s because 2000AD also gave us Judge Dredd.

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