The primeval carnage ramps up in Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #2. Each dinosaur must fend for their children in their own way, as creator Ricardo Delgado continues the next chapter in his prehistoric saga. Is it good?
Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
If the debut issue was a meditative exercise, Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #2 is a 100 meter dash. Ricardo Delgado introduces the reader to a slew of new characters, including a pack of Carcharodontosaurus saharicus that serve as the primary antagonists this issue. Delgado develops a theme within this issue about parenthood and children, as the Carcharodontosaur pack hunts down the infant Paralititan in order to feed their own young. To do this, they enlist the help of some smaller land-dwelling crocodilians who distract the adult sauropods in the hopes that the larger theropods share the spoils of the attack. Returning readers can guess that this development will not go unpunished, as the father of the young sauropods is the same bull that brutally hounded a pair of predators in the previous issue.
The scarred Spinosaurus returns from the previous issue, having caught another fish. He brings the fish as an offering to a potential mate, a gorgeously colored female Spinosaur. Following the aggressive Paralititan in issue one, this is another nice reversal of the norm by Delgado. In nature, the male is usually the brightly-colored individual, but here, it is the female Spinosaur. And Delgado’s design, brought to life by Ryan Hill, makes it clear why the protagonist would be so eager to please her. For paleontology nuts, this issue sees Delgado adjust the stance of his Spinosaur protagonists, with their posture better reflecting new information mentioned in my review of issue one.
“My dad can beat up your dad.”
“Dude! We have the same dad!”
The sheer amount of detail Delgado packs into his panels is astounding. Several panels often feature multiple creatures doing different things. A particular moment stands out as a large crocodile releases her infants into the river for the first time. The hatchlings quickly take to their new home, biting small fish while the mother of said fish grabs hold of one of the young crocodiles. It’s a panel that perfectly captures the cycle between predator and prey while also carrying on the issue’s themes of children and parents.
The climax to the issue is a shock, especially to readers who have read this issue. Ryan Hill does a great job by abandoning the natural coloration of the rest of the comic to use a palette of reds that emphasizes the brutal cruelty of the comic’s final scenes. It’s a harsh reminder that though the scar-faced Spinosaurus is the series protagonist, he is still a super predator competing in a dangerous world.
While Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #2 is a delightful read, it is not without its faults. Due to the jam-packed pace of the issue, some of the scenes feel shortchanged. The courtship ritual between the Spinosaurs is well illustrated, but it might have served the issue better to have more page time between the two of them before the issue’s final sequence. And though the attack by the Carcharodontosaurus pack on the Paralititan infant is well rendered, it would have been nice to get a glimpse of the sauropods in the aftermath of their loss.
Is It Good?
Ancient Egyptians: Age of Reptiles #2 is a fairly drastic change of pace from its predecessor, and that may throw off returning readers. However, Ricardo Delgado handles the acceleration well, utilizing punctuated moments of violence to emphasize character traits and relationships. Colorist Ryan Hill is up to the challenge, balancing the naturalistic approach with thematic coloring that aids the drama of this tale. Ultimately this is another strong chapter in a delightful miniseries.