Disassembly : T-Rex Punch

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“El Capitan Jupiter” is a Spanish-language comic from 1966. In this installment he seems to have been transported back in time, and must do battle with the king of the dinosaurs, the terrible T-Rex himself! As we see above, the good captain is usually clad in bright red and yellow, while the prehistoric surroundings are rendered in more muted earth tones. In my edit I removed the swishes, swoops, and and exclamations that guide the action, simplifying the pictures and slowing down the pacing. In the original, these action lines show us how the objects that we see as still have moved within the story’s timeline, providing context and  direction for the snapshots we are shown. This gives the action a sense of movement, and the long, dramatic sweep of the lines suggests an accelerated speed moving us from one scene to the next. Removing these lines, as well as the T-Rex’s growls, renders the frames mute and static. I found it unnecessary to remove the words from the bubbles, as most of us don’t read Spanish without difficulty.  (In some ways, the blank bubbles would have been more jarring than the unreadable words, because of how we expect speech bubbles to contain text.) Next, I replaced the Captain’s gaudy costume with the same colors as the monster he fights, his bright blond hair with a more muted yellow to match the surroundings.

The overall effect is one of reduced speed, almost bringing the sequence to a halt. The frames are simplified and calm, without any standout objects or colors. They seem oddly still. What is happening between these characters?  It is not immediately clear that they are fighting. The captain floats still in the air above the beast. This makes us consider each frame individually, as well as together. We begin to make more thoughtful observations and comparisons. Because of the color changes, we see parallels between the Captain and the T-Rex, with whom he shares a dark green. Here he is, Captain Jupiter, with his flight and his super strength, every bit as monstrous and powerful as the dinosaur, if not more so. Yet he shares his skin tone and shape with the very first humanoids, primitive man, as shown in the last panel. Much like modern man, Captain Jupiter is caught somewhere in between. Perhaps he is a little of both. Perhaps he is better than both, as we see later in the comic, when he subdues both the thunder lizard and the cave men. We see ourselves as above the earth and its creatures, somehow separate. But here the Captain is clearly part of the landscape and its inhabitants, just another animal on the earth, with similarities to others that have gone before us, and since perished.