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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
"Heirs to the Thunder" Part 1
Return to Jurassic Park #5 (Topps Comics)
Written by Tom & Mary Bierbaum
Pencils by Armando Gil
Inks by Fred Carillo and Steve Montano
Cover by Michael Golden

Two Jurassic Park employees discover the “secret base” of a mad scientist on the island genetically engineering “superior” dinosaurs.

Story Summary

Two JP employees, Derrick and Abby, decide to go for a walk in the Park when they notice one of the scientists, noted geneticist Dr. Gustavus, loading some items into the back of a Jeep. Inquisitive Abby tricks Derrick into distracting Gustavus with some questions while she grabs up the briefcase he stuck in the vehicle. As Gustavus irritatedly brushes them off and drives away, Derrick and Abby discover a dinosaur egg in the briefcase. Derrick recalls that Gustavus has been declaring eggs infertile in the lab and saying he'll dispose of them.

They take a Jeep with plans to hide the egg in the employee dorms until they can sneak into the lab that night to see what is going on with the egg. But Gustavus' Jeep suddenly rams into them from the side, recklessly forcing them off the road. Gustavus takes back his briefcase and cuts Derrick on the cheek with his knife, warning, "My apologies. The knife slipped. Next time it'll slip deeper."

The next day, while Gustavus is scheduled, with the rest of the bigwigs, to be meeting Dr. Alan Grant, the two follow his previous day's tire tracks to a remote part of the jungle while a storm approaches. They find a Quonset hut containing equipment and several small, living dinosaur specimens in cages. Just then, Gustavus shows up and shoots Derrick in the hand to stop him from reporting back over the hut's radio setup.

Gustavus reveals to them that he has introduced a mutagenic agent to his dinosaur eggs to create "superior" dinosaurs. The mad doctor goes on to describe his communication with reptilian beings in his dreams and his desire to create dinosaurs that will experience eons of evolution within a few generations. He then speaks of his intention to kill the two of them and feed their bodies to the carnivores.



Didja Know?

This story mostly takes place about the same time as the storm in the movie Jurassic Park.

Didja Notice? 

The shaded coloring does not make it easy to make out, but on page 1, the engineer on the left-hand side of panel 2 has a Jurassic Park mug on his desk and the image of a couple of dinosaurs on his computer screen.

The small dinosaur running loose that seems to like Derrick is presumably a Procompsognathus. We get no explanation here as to why it would be running loose, but the JP novel does explain that the compys are allowed to more-or-less roam the park because they act as waste disposal, eating the droppings left by herbivorous dinosaurs. Of course, we later learn in The Lost World that compys have a mildly poisonous bite and that bites from multiple individuals in a pack can lead to quite a dangerous situation.

The dinosaurs in the immediate background of pages 2-3 appear to be two species of hadrosaurids, Parasaurolophus and (probably) Hypacrosaurus. Farther in the background, some sauropods are visible but not identifiable by genus.

On page 3, Derrick says the little compy has breath that could sink the Bismarck. The Bismarck was a German battleship in WWII, the largest warship in the world at the time. It was pummeled by the artillery of heavy British units for almost 2 hours before sinking on May 27, 1941.

In panel 2 of page 5, Dr. Gustavus is depicted with yellow teeth! At first I thought it was an intentional choice to possibly indicate a lack of personal hygiene on his part, but all other depictions of him show white teeth.

The sauropods in the background of page 6, panel 1 are probably Brachiosaurs.

On page 10, half of a Jurassic Park poster can be seen on the wall of Derrick's quarters.

The bird flying in the foreground of page 11, panel 3, looks like it's intended to be an Archaeopteryx, an extinct bird from the late Jurassic period. Is this another example of cloned prehistoric creatures being allowed to roam free on the island? There is no indication in the story that Gustavus' lair is inside an aviary. Free-flying prehistoric birds seem like a particularly bad idea since they could conceivably fly away from the island and reach the mainland!

When they discover Dr. Gustavus' lair on page 11, Derrick says it looks like some kind of tin-plated cabana. It actually appears to be a Quonset hut. Quonset huts were introduced by the U.S. Navy during WWII as a lightweight, easy to ship and assemble building for housing offices, barracks, latrines and medical facilities. Surplus huts were also sold throughout the U.S. after the war and can still be seen in many parts of the country.

Upon entering Gustavus' equipment-filled hut on page 12, Abby says, "That nut-cluster's got his own private Batcave!" This, of course, is a reference to the well-equipped cavern called the Batcave used by Batman in DC comic books (and other media).

On the splash page covering pages 12-13, there are a number of interesting items and dinosaurs in Gustavus' hut. Many of the dinosaurs are identified by Gustavus on page 16.
In the bottom center of the spread, there is a cage containing some small, beaked dinosaurs which Gustavus indentifies on page 16 as Leaellynasaura. He mentions that his mutant version has heightened intelligence. They appear to be interested in toys. One of the creatures has a ball in its forelimbs and the other a baby doll! Another ball is sitting unused in the cage as well.  
On page 13, behind the "watchdog-sized" Triceratops cage, is a cage with what appears to be a furry mammalian creature. Perhaps the JP scientists have cloned some non-dinosaur prehistoric animals as well?  
In the hanging cage next to the Pterodactyls, is what appears to be a carnosaur with a plate-like formation on the bridge of its nose. This may be a mutant Dilophosaur.  
At the bottom of page 13 there is what looks like a computer server tower with the word or name "Lilie" scrawled on the front of it. We do not get an explanation of what this means.  
In the lower-middle of page 13, there is a spinner rack of test tubes. These may be embryo test tubes as seen in the Jurassic Park movie.  
Right next to the test tubes is a book that appears to be called Jurassic Triassic by Evans. I am not aware of any book by that name/author. Possibly the book would be related to the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event.  

The dream vision seen by the insane Dr. Gustavus on page 17 includes a being that looks similar to the so-called Greys of alien abduction phenomenon. Perhaps there is some connection to these alleged aliens and the seemingly UFO-related research of the U.S. Army depicted in Return to Jurassic Park issues 1-4.

Notes from The Jurassic Page 

The Jurassic Page is the title of the letter column that appeared in the Return to Jurassic Park comic book series. In this issue, a letter writer named Salvador Gonzalez asked if Tim and Lex would return. The editor's answer was yes, they would be back in #10 of Return to Jurassic Park. Unfortunately the series was placed on hiatus after #9 in 1996 and never returned. 

The Jurassic Page of issue #8 reveals that the t-shirt worn by Derrick in the second half of this issue (#5) and in #6, is the "I Survived Hurricane Iniki" shirt given to crewmembers of the original Jurassic Park film after that storm struck Hawaii during filming. The Jurassic Page of The Lost World #2 (the four-issue mini-series adaptation of the JP sequel film) more specifically gives the T-shirt quote as saying "Hurricane Iniki: Survivor '92".

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