The Marvel Universe’s resident teen dinosaur superhero returns to stands with this week’s Reptil #1.
With a fictional universe as sprawling as Marvel’s, it goes without saying that not every character can have the spotlight to themselves. That’s why the announcement of a Reptil series was so surprising. First introduced in the “Initiative” era before taking a leading role in Avengers Academy, Reptil has popped up occasionally since then but hasn’t really received much focus. This is, unfortunately, something that happens quite often in Big Two comics: a new character is introduced with lots of fanfare but quickly fades into the background just as quickly as they came (Remember Mosaic? No?).
But in our current era of diversity-minded pushes on the comics front, it does make a certain sense to reintroduce Reptil (who is Mexican-American) with his first-ever solo title. He’s a somewhat established character with enough backstory to pull from while also having lots of potential to move forward. But failing that, many might already know him from being the token kid in The Super Squad Show.
When we find Humberto in Reptil #1, his lack of activity in recent canon is touched upon, which we learn has only been made worse by the events of Outlawed and the discouragement of teen vigilantes. When his family comes to help with his sickly grandfather, questions about his past (particularly the whereabouts of his missing archaeologist parents) resurface, and he’s forced to revisit his dormant dinosaur powers to not only save the day but hopefully reunite with his mom and dad. And just in case you’re thinking it already, I agree: this setup sounds a lot like the general premise of Hey Arnold!.
There’s a lot to like about Reptil #1, especially if you’re a longtime fan of the character. The script feels personal and moves briskly, while the art looks great and appealingly colorful. There’s also something to be said for setting it firmly in Los Angeles rather than Marvel’s usual New York City trappings, which sometimes happens (see: All-New Ghost Rider, West Coast Avengers) but not enough for the location to feel like a regular aspect of the Marvel Universe. I’ll say this issue does fall in the classic trap of first issues where it’s a lot of setup and not much plot movement until the final pages, but knowing this is intended for a limited run does suggest it’ll pick up soon. At the very least, we’re given reason to care about Humberto’s predicament before he charges off into a classic superhero story. It comes across slightly rudimentary at times, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Reptil is a play for the YA market who may not be as rooted in superhero conventions as some of us are.
The creative team of Reptil is also fairly solid. Writer Terry Blas (a veteran of YA and all-ages comics like Dead Weight) clearly has an affection for this character and presumably applies some of his own life experience as a Chicano to Humberto’s personal stakes, which prevents it from feeling hollow. Furthermore, the art team of Enid Balám and Victor Olazaba are appropriately youthful in their approach. Their version of Reptil feels older, but still very much like a teen who isn’t a fully formed person yet. And outside of an intricately laid-out double splash recounting his origin and recent canon, the rest of the issue follows clean, uncomplicated layouts that make following the story easy. While those not invested in Reptil might not find much here to mull over, I can see this overall creative team winning over new fans of the character
- Writer: Terry Blas
- Artists: Enid Balám (penciler), Victor Olazaba (inker)
- Color Artist: Carlos Lopez
- Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
- Cover Artists: Paco Medina, Federica Blee
- Editor: Lauren Amaro
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment