December 15, 2011

Review of Devils in the Desert

Comic-book legend John Byrne offered his take on dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert mini-series and trade paperback. Unfortunately, it was only mildly entertaining, as these reviews by Erik Norris indicate:

Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert #2 ReviewIt's kind of shocking that we're two issues into this latest Jurassic Park mini-series and we're still not getting much of the book's actual selling point: the dinosaurs.Jurassic Park: Devils in the Desert #3 ReviewThe majority of Devils in the Desert #3 is made up of people standing around talking about how pteranodons are running buck wild in the hills of Southern California. Issue #3 falls into the same trapping as the previous two issues of this series; I just don't care about any of the personal relationships being shoved down my throat.Jurassic Park: Devils in the Desert #4 ReviewWe finally come to the end of John Byrne's pteranodon epic in Jurassic Park: Devils in the Desert. And while the final issue had one redeeming awesome quality--pitting a pteranodon against a polar bear--the rest of the issue falls completely flat due to characters that haven't made a lasting impact over the course of this series.The Native aspect

Why am I writing about this series? One of the main characters, the deputy sheriff, is a Navajo. He has a few good traits:

  • His name is Dan Jackson, not something phony and non-Navajo like Dan Bear or Dan Wolf.

  • He doesn't have much of a personality, which is okay. Not every Native character has to wise, funny, or spiritual. But he's a pro at his job.

  • At one point his two sons help him, suggesting he has a normal family life.

  • This is balanced against the main stereotype: Jackson's constant wearing of a Navajo-style cowboy hat. I've never seen a Navajo wear one of these in real life, but they occur frequently in cartoons and other media.

    Byrne is also guilty of portraying Southwestern deserts as barren wastelands of sand and rock. Actually, these deserts are covered in vegetation.

    Below: A typical road through Northern Arizona's high desert. The yellow grass and low green bushes may not look like much, but they cover the landscape. They support a whole eco-system of small animals, birds, and insects.

    Although Byrne doesn't do it explicitly, it's common to portray Indian country as a lunar landscape. This makes the Indians look primitive and foolish for choosing to live there.

    Devils in the Desert is noteworthy for its ethnic characters. Besides Deputy Jackson, there are a Latina paleontologist, a black FBI agent, and some Japanese businessmen. Other than that, though, the series is unremarkable. It's probably worth getting only if you're a Jurassic Park or John Byrne fan.

    For more on the subject, see SUPER INDIAN Webcomic and American Eagle in FEAR ITSELF.

    Below:  Deputy Jackson's best moment in Devils in the Desert.

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    That white dude looks like a zombie. ;)

    Yeah, I always find fake Indian names annoying. Goddammit, we are not wolves.

    In fact, I think my addition to the "**** you, I'm a dragon" meme (besides a Scumbag Bank of America with "job creator" replacing "dragon" will be an Indian saying "**** you, I'm not a wolf").