Anyone can growl and stomp and head-butt stuff. These dinos have a certain je ne sais quoi that raises them above the usual teeth-and-scales fare into the truly magnificent.
They only made a brief appearance in Calvin and Hobbes, but the tyrannosaurs in F14s captivated the imagination of the internet the world over. Because what could be cooler than a dinopocalypse brought about by massive predators in fighter jets?
(Credit: Bill Watterson)
Jack Kirby was a man of much brilliance. Even if you've never heard his name (and if you're a comics fan, shame on you for that), you definitely know his characters. Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Nick Fury, the Fantastic Four, Galactus, the Silver Surfer, the original X-Men, including Magneto, Professor X, Cyclops and Jean Grey, Darkseid and Etrigan the Demon are just a small few.
Among his oeuvre live Moon Boy and his BFF, the eponymous red tyrannosaurus Devil Dinosaur. And Devil Dinosaur kicks prehistoric — and not-so-prehistoric — arse. Because time travel, what else?
Plus, when you open the comic, on the first page it says, "Although the language of primitive man is still unknown, it is translated here by the author for communicative purposes." That's more brilliant than anything anyone else has ever written.
OK, so technically Fin Fang Foom isn't a dinosaur. Technically, Fin Fang Foom is an alien. But "technically" has never stopped comics, so we see no reason why it should stop us. In fact, it's thanks to comics jiggery-pokery that no one really knows precisely what Fin Fang Foom's canon origin and back story actually is. But he can fly, change shape, communicate telepathically and is very evil. You can tell by his facial fins.
Fin Fang Foom is another Kirby creation (with Stan Lee), and he hails from space (and China). Originally appearing in "Strange Tales #89" in 1961, he went on to appear as a villain in Iron Man, Hulk and Thor, kind of. (It was just the Midgard Serpent in disguise. Yay, comics!)
And then there was Nextwave. If you've never read Warren Ellis' Nextwave, you need to fix that, right now. It had us cackling like crazed loons — the above panel being one notable example. (Devil Dinosaur also puts in a brilliant appearance.)
We need to state for the record that we haven't read issue #323 of DC's Adventure Comics, appearing in 1964 and featuring the Legion of Superheroes in "The Eight Impossible Missions". But it has a dino-throwing contest, where the dinos in question have "deadly evolutionary buzz-saw blades" attached to their heads. Thank goodness those look more like herbivores. Can you imagine a utahraptor with buzz-saw blades? Brrr.
How is this not excellent? Tyrannosaurus Reich appeared in Major Bummer, which ran for just 15 issues from 1997 to 1998, written by John Arcudi and drawn by Dou Mahnke. The antagonist from issue #5, Tyrannosaurus Reich was from an alternate dimension populated by Nazi dinosaurs. He only speaks German. And he doesn't like pussycats. He's the most villainous villain in villain town.
We'd like to say that comics were weird in the '90s, but that would be a half truth; comics have always been weird. Nonetheless, we're not sure it gets much weirder than Charles Barkley going head to head with Godzilla at the instigation of a teen Barkley fan in Dark Horse's Godzilla vs. Barkley from 1993. Naturally, the only way this competition can be fair is if they battle on the basketball court ... and even then, Barkley has to cheat. But it's OK; Godzilla gets some words of encouragement at the end of the match (because of course Barkley wins) and a new pair of Nike shoes. Wait, actually. What?
(Credit: Dark Horse)