A group of ranch hands in modern-day Texas are searching for a missing calf when they stumble upon a remarkable find: 65 million-year-old ruins inscribed with dinosaur carvings. Six months later, the U.S. military has commandeered the site and brought in pilot Rick Benson to fly a specially built aircraft down a two-mile deep shaft amid the ruins. The hole leads to a gigantic cave filled with machinery keeping thousands of dinosaurs in suspended animation. The presence of humans causes the dinosaurs to stir from their slumber, but what seems like the greatest discovery in history soon becomes a nightmare. Turns out the animals are far more intelligent than we imagined, and they want their planet back.
Extinction Event was a five-part miniseries published in late 2003 and early 2004 by WildStorm, an imprint of DC Comics. The comic’s creators obviously meant the series to be the start of a much larger publishing run as the story ends on a cliffhanger, so don’t dive into it expecting a tidy resolution. No sequel ever materialized, probably because the comic isn’t very good.
Extinction Event has more in common with War of the Worlds than The Lost World, although its plot borrows heavily from Doctor Who and the Silurians. The super-intelligent dinosaurs here basically are a faceless alien force intent on humanity’s destruction. After an initial setup in the first two issues, the story boils down to the dinosaur army’s rampage across Texas and the heroes’ attempts to stop it. Why do the dinosaurs hate humanity so much? That’s never explained. They wake up and instantly start slaughtering every person they find, although you would think they would be surprised to see humans given they had never encountered them before. And if you’re wondering how a few thousand dinosaurs could overrun several billion humans, these dinosaurs have psychic powers that turn people into mindless puppets – except for the heroes, who can resist their mental powers because… plot convenience?
The writing is ludicrous. Extinction Event reads like something I would have penned in seventh grade: Just a bunch of “cool” ideas thrown into a narrative blender with no care for creating a story with any type of logical coherence. My favorite bit of WTF comes near the end when the hero enters a town to tell the residents – who have no clue that anything out of the ordinary is going on – that an army of psychic dinosaurs is about to invade their community, so they should arm themselves and follow him into battle. And they do! I’m guessing because you don’t mess with Texas?
The art is a mixed bag. A big problem with many dinosaur-themed comics is the artists are often skilled at depicting human anatomy but not dinosaur anatomy, so you get silly-looking terrible lizards. The opposite is true for Extinction Event. The dinosaur art is the bright spot of the series. The animals are highly detailed and show a surprising amount of scientific accuracy, including feathers. Unfortunately the colorist paints all the dinosaurs the same shade of green, which diminishes the work the penciler put into them. Still, I wish more comics had dinosaurs that looked this good. That said, the human characters look awful, with strangely elongated torsos, oversized limbs, and undersized heads. The artist clearly was hired for his ability to draw dinosaurs, not Homo sapiens.
As far as I know, Extinction Event was never collected into a single volume, so you will need to hunt down all five issues individually if you want to read the series. Trust me, it’s not worth the effort.
- DC shut down WildStorm in 2010.
- The writer’s website is www.robertwienberg.net
- The penciler, Brett Booth, has provided art for a number of popular superhero comics. You can read more about him on his Wikipedia page.