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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
"No-Man's Land"
Return to Jurassic Park #4 (Topps Comics)
Written by Steve Englehart
Pencils by Joe Staton
Inks by Steve Montano
Cover by Michael Golden

The group must flee the renegade soldiers and an enraged Tyrannosaurus to escape from Isla Nublar.

Story Summary

After the capture of Grant, Ellie, Muldoon, and Raul by the soldiers, Edgar and Sonya scale the fence around the Army base to rescue them. While Sonya guards the rescue attempt from outside the holding building, Edgar goes in to free them. Raul is too badly injured from brutal interrogation and is unable to accompany them and dies (possibly due to Edgar's own intervention). The group escapes the base via Jeep in the darkness but is pursued. At dawn they must lie low in the jungle while copters fly overhead, searching for them.

The T. rex now known as One-Eye shows up and attacks. The group splits up to evade it and the beast corners Grant and Ellie, but Ellie tricks it into sliding down the nearby steep hillside. The rex survives the fall but is out of the picture for at least the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, Edgar and Sonya have run up to another cliff's edge dead-end. Suddenly, Edgar shoves her over the edge, grabbing her by the foot just in time to stop her plunge to the bottom. Dangling her there, he demands to know what she saw at the compound; his instincts for reading people tell him she learned something on the base about the green flame. Reluctantly she begins to tell him.

Grant, Ellie, and Muldoon hear a scream from nearby...a woman! It must be Sonya. They race to the top of an outcropping and find Edgar staring down off the edge. "We were running and she fell," he says. "I couldn't save her."

The original InGen team members are now the only ones left in the group and they make their way back to the beach where they are able to make their escape on the underwater jet skis that brought them to the island. They rendezvous with Hammond's sub and gain safety. But they are all left with many unanswered questions about the fate of the island. Except, maybe, for Edgar...


Didja Know?

The story ends here without revealing the secret of the green flame from previous issues and implying that the U.S. Army presence on the island may not be quite what they advertise themselves to be. The storyline was supposed to have been picked up in later issues, but Topps Comics placed Return to Jurassic Park on hiatus after issue #9 in 1996 without having concluded the "green flame" storyline, and in 1998 Topps Comics itself folded. There may be a hint of what the soldiers really were on page 10 of this issue where a narrative box says, "But despite their showing thus far, these are highly trained mercenaries!" Since General West seems to have been a legitimate U.S. Army general, there may have been a mixed Army/mercenary presence on the island (not all that different from U.S. military forces hiring Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq in the 2000s). In September of 2008, I sent an email to writer Steve Englehart, asking him what the green flame was all about:

From: Clayton Barr
Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2008 8:19 PM
To: Steve Englehart
Subject: Jurassic Park

Hi, Steve,

I've enjoyed your writing for years. I especially dig how you were able to continue the Mantis/Celestial Madonna saga over various titles at Marvel over the years--a cool way to continue a story as you moved from one title to another! Unfortunately, that was not an option on the story you were developing in the Jurassic Park comics for Topps in the '90s when they dropped the title. I recently re-read all the JP comics and now I'm dying to know: what was the green flame? My best guess is that the island was being turned into a kind of Area 51 and the green flame was the result of experiments on a recovered UFO. But then, it kind of seemed as if the base from which the green flame originated was under the control of renegade military rather than the U.S. Army that was ostensibly in charge of the island. Maybe my guesses are not even close!

And he kindly responded:

From: Steve Englehart
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 8:20 PM
To: Clayton Barr
Subject: Re: Jurassic Park

Hi Clayton -

You're basically right. It was primarily an homage to Joe Staton, who drew those issues and had previously drawn GREEN LANTERN CORPS with me. The GLC, of course, uses a green power. So the specifics of the green power in Jurassic Park were left deliberately vague - tho, as I say, that's pretty much what I had in mind. The Army was officially in charge, but the secret group studying the flame was operating behind that cover for security reasons.

Hope that helps.

Since it seems I was pretty close in my guess of a UFO being studied on the island, I wonder if there is any connection between the UFO and the alien Grays allegedly in contact with the insane Dr. Gustavus as seen in "Heirs to the Thunder" Part 1. The Green Lantern Corps title Englehart is referring to in his reply was a title published by DC Comics from 1986-1988. It's issues were numbered 201-224 since it took over the numbering of the title formerly known as Green Lantern (of which Englehart also wrote issues 188-200).

Steve Englehart, on his website, has posted images of the first pages of his next four scripts of the series which were never published. From what can be seen, the story focused on Tim and Lex, with the revelation that Lex smuggled two Procompsognathus eggs away from the park! The eggs hatch and the cute little compys soon escape from Lex and Tim and begin terrorizing their home town. Grant and Ellie (and even Hammond's majordomo, Edgar Prather) become involved with the attempt to clean up the mess. Meanwhile, Hammond himself, who had been hiding from the U.S. government, which was upset at his peoples incursions in its recent green flame experiments on Isla Nublar, abducts him and brings him back to the island to join their experiments.

Didja Notice? 

This issue's title, "No-Man's Land" is not to be confused with the title of Return to Jurassic Park #1, "No Man's Land".

The tiny pterosaur on the cover in the bottom left corner, appears to be a Dimorphodon.

Like the previous issue, the rex is drawn much bigger than it would be in real life. Check out how tiny Ellie looks in comparison to the rex's head in panel 3 of page 18, for example (below).

On page 7, the "crak" sound in panel 5 seems to indicate that Edgar has broken Raul's neck, killing him, to prevent the injured man from slowing the group down as they make their escape from the base.

On page 13, Ellie quotes James Bond, "Nothing propinks like propinquity." This is from Ian Fleming's 1956 007 novel Diamonds are Forever. The phrase basically means nothing brings us closer than being in proximity; usually used in reference to personal relationships.

On page 14, the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar are described as "...those who were put in this garden, to have dominion over it..." This is a reference to the Old Testament's Book of Genesis and the story of God putting mankind in the Garden of Eden, only with dinosaurs substituting for man and Isla Nublar for their Garden of Eden.

A Pteranodon is flying in the background of page 21, panel 6.

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