After a violent second issue, the predators find themselves being hunted in Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #3. Is it good?
Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
In the aftermath of a violent second issue, Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #3 doesn’t shy away from the consequences of that violence. In the opening of the issue, the Carcharodontosaurus pack leader wanders through the swamp with the corpse of an infant Paralititan still in its clutches. This nonchalant behavior proves to be deadly, as the predator is ambushed by the infant’s surviving herd members.
The brutality to the violence here is a nice callback to the debut of this series, where these herbivorous sauropods pulled a similar tactic on another predator. These Paralititan are not the helpless plant-eaters seen in Jurassic World, victims of old stereotypes. These are actual animals, cruel in their capacity for revenge, and unafraid of their sharp-toothed neighbors. One of these neighbors, seen briefly in previous issues, takes some of the spotlight in this chapter. A pack of Rugops primus, the short-armed theropods gracing this issue’s cover, highlights some of the thematic undertones of this series. In Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians, children are always at risk, and the way the pack corners the young Carcharodontosaurus speaks to this issue.
The action eventually returns to the male Spinosaurus, still trying to earn the trust and attention back from his mate after his actions in the previous issue. He offers her some carrion, the same Paralititan infant the Carcharodontosaurus was feeding on, but she rejects his attempts to appease her. Delgado shows a nice balance in his depiction of the dinosaurs throughout his multiple Age of Reptiles series, but here it really stands out as a place where he gracefully avoids anthropomorphizing his saurian cast while still allowing them to feel like beings with individual personalities in their own right. It’s a quality that makes Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians feel like a trip back in time.
Another is Ricardo Delgado’s penchant for details, which is on full display. In the issue’s climactic quarrel, readers will notice small animals kicked up into the air during the tussle. This attention to detail also comes into building the tension of the story. Early on, the small crocodiles that aided the Carcharodontosaur pack in the previous issue are quick to feed on their former ally’s corpse, foreshadowing their voracious behavior later in the issue. And the increasingly violent behavior of the Paralititan herd hints at what will surely serve as the climax to the series.
Ryan Hill’s coloring adds great dimension to Delgado’s lines. Whereas in issue #2, Hill used dramatic background color to emphasize the horror of the violence, here everything is presented in a more natural way, which makes the violence seem more brutal. It’s a minor touch that helps sell the power of the creatures involved, rather than the terror of the victims and helps to suggest who the reader should be empathizing with. In the issue’s quieter moments, Hill uses softer greens and browns to create an earthy, palpable feel. His use of lighting also gives a sense of relaxation – a hauntingly beautiful afternoon in the primeval swamp.
That being said, Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #3 is not without its faults. The nighttime sequences feel a little off artistically. Part of this is that the sequences are drawn with the loving detail that aids the day scenes. However, when colored in the purples of night, the creatures often blend into the background in a way that feels unnatural. In some places that’s fine, but in others it gives that same awkward feeling as a film that shoots its night scenes during the day for an artist to color grade in post. It doesn’t quite work with the otherwise natural coloring. The problem does not rest solely on color artist Ryan Hill’s shoulders, however. If objects are going to be colored in the same nocturnal shades, some of the detailed lines of the background should probably be lost or weighted less heavily than the objects in the foreground so as help the reader discern what is going on. This is a minor issue to be sure, but it is one that holds the issue back from perfection.
Is It Good?
The third outing in Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians helps solidify both the themes and the pacing of the series. Ricardo Delgado’s artwork depicts a violent world where loss is met with loss and every kill has a consequence. Ryan Hill’s coloring helps to emphasize the real world brutality of the violence while juxtaposing with calmer moments with elegant lighting. Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #3 is an exciting read in a series that every dinosaur fan will love.
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