John Byrne plays this like an old horror movie. The issue proceeds without hide nor hair (the beasties are dinosaurs, so of course there’s no hair!) of the big bad for most of the issue, choosing to focus on the unspeakable horror of fifteen head of cattle butchered across five acres of the Franklin Ranch in the middle of the American southwest. The cattle slaughter causes Eddie Franklin to send his son after the sheriff, Will Tobias. From here, it becomes Tobias’ story, as the mystery deepens and the range of mystery widens.
Byrne treats the entire issue as a series of widescreen panels running four down each page with each panel filling the entire width of the page. It serves the story well, giving it a widescreen feel and playing to the big sky landscapes this story occurs within. The payoff when it finally occurs is all the more visually stunning due in part to the widescreen setup and also to the mystery dripped throughout this story. Byrne really brings his very best to draw the big reveal, and the double-page spread is amazing. It plays to the widescreen feel, but Byrne pops the beasties out of the panel, providing a sense of motion.
While only one species of critter is shown in full in this issue, it is indicated that there may be as many as three different species roaming about. It’s hard to say at this point and certainly Byrne is building suspense by not truly revealing all of the prehistoric creatures in one fell swoop. The panels (save for the final reveal) where the critters are encountered provide the attack from the creatures point of view, or slightly off from there, with shadow playing the only part in the reveal.
To this point, I don’t see the connection between this story and the “Jurassic Park” brand on the cover, but I’m sure that’s coming. There’s a late arrival at the end of the issue that may provide the link-up, but for now, however, it’s simply a cool story written and drawn by John Byrne that just so happens to give Byrne a chance to draw up some prehistoric wildlife. This story plays to all of Byrne’s strengths as writer and artist, but the cover price is a bit steep for the reveals within. Certainly Byrne will provide a greater display of monstrosities in the next issue. I’m hoping so, and I’ll certainly check in to see what manner of creature is at work here.