Enid Balám (penciler), Terry Blas (writer), Carlos Lopez (colorist), Paco Medina and Federico Blee (cover), Victor Olazaba (inker), VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer)
September 22, 2021
Reptil #4 opens like the series did, on Humberto and his family: his grandfather, aunt, and twin cousins (Eva and Julian). After a few pages with too much dialogue, there’s a costume change for the teenagers. Humberto and Eva put on outfits that Julian has made for them: the former his supersuit, with an amulet on full display, and the latter her red, white, and green dress, which she dances in at the festival. Julian shaves his head and dresses in a complementary all-green outfit. In the absence of real-time aging, their costume changes effectively signal the growth that they’ve undergone together.
Eva has become a better magic user than when her powers were first teased. She creates a sword for Julian to wield when they team up with Humberto against Sarsen (son of the Hag of the Pits and Big Bad revealed in the penultimate issue) and protects civilians with a forcefield that lets humans out while keeping dinosaurs in. Julian’s sword and Eva’s forcefield glow orange, resonating with Humberto’s amulet and dinosaur forms. In the standout splash page in this issue, Humberto manages to go what Julian calls “full dino” in front of Eva’s magic. Despite taking up most of the page in an offensive stance (beak and wings open), he does so to protect his family and community, echoing the first issue’s splash page. And he successfully maintains control, which allows him to not only turn into a dinosaur but, in a neat addition to his powerset that further demonstrates his character development, also communicate with them.
Balám’s dinosaurs are almost like scientific illustrations. Apart from their occasional overlap as Humberto changes from one to another and their color, for which Lopez deserves plenty of credit, they would not look out of place in an encyclopedia. Balám, Olazaba, and Lopez’s human figures are less meticulously rendered, but still dynamic and capable of showing emotion, from the serenity on Humberto’s face when he goes to transform to the excited smile Julian makes when he sees someone texting a certain spider-themed superhero.
The splash page from the first issue, where Reptil manifests a dinosaur’s tail to defend a child from a supervillain’s attack, remains my favorite part of the series. With just one sound effect and one speech balloon, it perfectly communicated the values of the comic’s hero and creative team. It made me wish they got more than just these four issues, and I don’t mean a few pages in an anthology one-shot. While I’m looking forward to seeing (new and old favorites) Reptil, Spider-Man, and Nova in Marvel Voices: Comunidades, I hate that the publisher isn’t committing to ongoing runs for characters or creators of marginalized identities, especially those of color.