“I didn’t know if it was a good idea or not,” artist Juan Gedeon said about Jurassic League, DC Comics’ upcoming miniseries about a prehistoric Justice League who are all anthropomorphic dinosaurs. “I just knew I wanted to draw these creatures.”
In the world of Jurassic League, Superman was still sent to Earth on a rocket ship from a dying planet. And he was still raised by humans. It’s just that he’s also a man-shaped brachiosaurus. Batman (rather, Batsaur, Gedeon clarifies for Polygon) is an allosaurus. Wonder Woman is a triceratops. The Joker is a dilophosaurus.
The whole thing comes from the minds of Gedeon (Venom, favorite dinosaur: mosasaurus) and writer Daniel Warren Johnson (Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, Beta Ray Bill: Argent Star, favorite dinosaur: velociraptor). Courtesy of DC Comics, Polygon can exclusively reveal Jurassic League, an upcoming six-issue miniseries from DC Comics, and a load of first-look art.
“You know the story: an infant escapes the destruction of its home planet and is deposited on Earth to be raised by human parents,” reads DC’s official plot synopsis. “A goddess from a lost city defends truth. A Theropod dons the visage of a bat to strike fear into evildoers’ hearts. This heroic trinity, alongside a league of other super-powered dinosaurs, join forces to save a prehistoric Earth from the sinister machinations of Darkseid. Wait ... what? Okay, maybe you don’t know the story. So join us and bear witness to a brand-new — yet older than time — adventure and experience the Justice League as you have never seen them before!”
In speaking with Gedeon and Johnson via email, the two cited numerous points of inspiration for the series, from Street Sharks, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Primal Rage to Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal, Ricardo Delgado’s dinosaur story comic Age of Reptiles, and the horror-inspired sculptures of James Groman.
“I dig the Justice League,” Johnson wrote, “but I dig them MORE as dinosaurs.” And so did DC editor Katie Kubert, who according to Gedeon, came up with a few of the exceptional names for the characters, like Wonderdon and Flashraptor.
“I wanted each Dino to be recognized immediately as the hero they represent,” Gedeon told Polygon. “If anyone saw them and thought ‘which character is this supposed to be?’ it would mean the design was not successful. So I tried to pick a dino that captured the essence of their human counterpart to use as base.
“At first I thought of doing Wonder Woman as Pterodactyl or something more athletic looking so that’s how I landed on the triceratops. They’re herbivores but they could defeat a T-Rex, so that seems fitting for WW. WW is more fierce than Superman so I thought of a rose or a cactus: beautiful from a distance but they can hurt if handled incorrectly. I think this is another layer I tried to incorporate to her design.”
“Superman is the pinnacle of goodness and strength, and he only fights if there’s no other option, so I wanted a herbivore dino that looks harmless, but is solid and strong. Brachiosaurus was a perfect fit. He’d never be a t-rex because he’d never hurt a fly, it’s not his nature.
“Batman has no superpowers, but puts fear in the hearts of criminals, so a carnivore dino seemed right (although Batsaur doesn’t eat meat, we might explore that in the book). But since he’s got no super-abilities, using a t-rex or another big carnivore would’ve made him too powerful. That’s how I came up with the Allosaurus (plus they have those pointy horns on the head, kinda like Batman’s ears).”
“Joker had to be crazy, sneaky, colorful, unpredictable and dangerous. And cool but kinda disgusting to some degree, so I thought of Vertigo from Primal Rage. But since she’s a made up dino her “real” equivalent to me would be a dilophosaurus or an oviraptor. I added the green hair and some sort of “wings” inspired by Heath Ledger’s Joker.”
Jurassic League #1 hits shelves on May 10, with a variant cover by Gedeon, which you can see below: