Reptil #1 reintroduced readers to Humberto Lopez, the titular teen superhero who can turn into dinosaurs. In the second issue of the four-part miniseries, Humberto and his cousins, Eva and Julian, come face to face not with fossils but with flesh and blood reptiles on Dinosaur World.
Enid Balám (penciler), Terry Blas (writer), Carlos Lopez (colorist), Paco Medina and Federico Blee (cover), Victor Olazaba (inker), VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer)
June 23, 2021
Reptil #2 opens in a flashback to a fieldwork site where Humberto’s paleontologist parents — currently missing — are excavating a (very much dead) fossil. The younger Humberto, wearing a green t-shirt and jeans echoing both an outfit worn by the older Humberto in the first issue and his superhero costume, asks his mother what her favorite dinosaur is. She replies, “quetzalcoatlus,” which, she explains, was named after the Aztec god of wind and air, Quetzalcoatl. Humberto’s father continues, “Having a dinosaur with an Aztec name means we get to see our culture out in the world and share that culture with you.” You don’t need a quetzalcoatlus’s wings to make the leap from favorite dinosaur to favorite superhero and what it means to have a character with a name like Humberto Lopez lead a comic book.
The Santee Alley altercation briefly continues as the comic shifts from past to present, with Humberto unmasking the man (Henry Desjardin, billionaire founder of tech company Megalith) after his amulet. Fleeing the scene (and the police responding to it), Humberto, Julian, and Eva return home, where Eva tells her brother and cousin that her trick earlier was a magic trick. She’s been studying magic and magic users: Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, and Doctor Voodoo. Julian namedrops designer Jumbo Carnation, then Darla Deering and Dazzler. These references, to mystic, mutant, and musical Marvel characters, put Reptil in closer proximity to the (predominantly white) center of the universe.
Eva’s magic powers move them away from it as they use petite portals to go to Dinosaur World in search of the Hag of the Pits, the creator of the amulet who, believe it or not, is an established character with a fandom.com page. Once there, Humberto gets to spread his wings, and it’s clear that the creative team is having fun with the breadth of his powers even if he is not. They’re also willing to experiment with style.
Unlike the opening flashback, which is colored in tones like those used in present-day scenes (although with some graininess), Lopez uses muted colors in a series of flashbacks in the body of the issue to break from the cool greens of the plains and the bright yellows of the pits of Dinosaur World. Lopez’s colors and Balám and Olazaba’s lines expand Humberto’s world as much as Blas’s text rendered in Sabino’s letters, together inventing a supporting cast and reinventing existing canon.
Halfway through this miniseries, the addition of new characters and new characterizations, from that of the Hag of the Pits and her son to Humberto experiencing growing pains of his own, might be too much. It makes me wonder what this creative team could do if they and the character they clearly care so much about were given more time and space. Conversely, for them to do really well may be a double-edged sword: proving that characters of marginalized identities matter and that four issues is enough.