"The Challenge of Mata-Zin"
Valley of the Dinosaurs #3 (Charlton)
Writer and artist unknown (but appears to be the same as
credited in later issues from VOTD #4 onwards as Fred Himes)
John Butler runs afoul of the local
Searching for a way out of the Valley of
the Dinosaurs, John, Katie, and Greg raft down the nearby river
to see where it leads. But a Brachiosaurus flips the wooden raft
and the trio are nearly washed over a waterfall before grabbing
some overhanging branches and clambering into a waterside cave
which they soon discover belongs to a local witch doctor who
exacts tribute from the cave-dwelling tribe who have
recently taken in the lost family. He chases the Butlers away with the threat of
large trained lizards (possibly Komodo dragons).
Back at the village, John tries to convince
the tribe Mata-Zin is a fraud who commands no evil spells. Mata-Zin
himself unexpectedly appears at the caves and dazzles the tribe with his
displays, but John knows his feats are really applications of
primitive science. John bests Mata-Zin at this own game and the
witch doctor retreats.
But the evil one returns in the evening and
secretly poisons John with a dart from a blow gun, leaving him to
CONTINUED IN "KATIE'S CHALLENGE"
Notes from the Valley of the
This story may take place fairly early in the chronology, as Mata-Zin
is aware of the outsider Butler family embraced by the cave-dwellers
but has only just now realized the threat they may pose to his
domination. In addition, the Butlers raft the nearby river,
searching for a way out of the valley, which they would presumably
do early in their time stranded there.
The long-tailed pterosaur in the background of page 1, panel
1, is a Rhamphorhynchus.
On page 1, as John, Katie, and Greg raft down the river, Katie
remarks that she thinks the river just leads back to the lagoon
where they started. Now, the statement is vague, but she seems
to be saying the river begins and ends in the same place! This
is like the discovery of the closed-universe nature of the Land
of the Lost by the Marshall family on the river that begins and
ends in the same place in the
"Downstream" episode of that series. Ignoring all
of this, couldn't the Butlers have simply asked their cave-dwelling
friends where the river goes in the first place?
Page 2 suggests that Katie was a champion swimmer back home.
The colorist seems to use red-orange coloring to suggest wet
hair on the normally brunette Katie and Greg.
The various relatively small lizards seen in Mata-Zin's cave and on his person
appear to be iguanas or something related to them.
On page 5, the iguana perched on Mata-Zin's shoulders is
suddenly facing the opposite direction from where it was on the
last panel of page 4.
The large lizards in Mata-Zin's cave appear similar to modern
day Komodo dragons. He even refers to them as dragons.
On the last panel of page 5, we see several caves on the same
hillside in which the cave-dweller tribe lives. In the televised
episodes, it is not so clear that the various families of
cave-dwellers live so close together.
On page 6, Tyrannosaurus rex is portrayed fairly
accurately, with only two claws on its forelimbs, although
generally not standing as tall as the 25 feet described here
since scientists now think it carried itself more horizontally
to the ground, with its tail balancing the weight of its huge
head (rather than the tall, tail-dragging dinosaurs often described at
the time this story was written).
Saltoposuchus, seen on page 6, was a prehistoric lizard not
related to the dinosaurs, but to later crocodilians. It is no
longer believed they locomoted primarily on their hind legs as
stated here, though they probably did for short bursts of speed.
On page 7, Katie describes the tribute-demanding Mata-Zin as
some kind of "godfather" running a protection racket. A
protection racket is a form of extortion where criminals demand
payment to "protect" a business from property damage (usually
caused by the racketeers themselves). The "godfather" Katie
refers to is the term as used to describe a sort of boss of the
mafia, as popularized by the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo and the
1972 film based on it, The Godfather.
In what may be a color processing error, throughout page 9 Glump
is colored more yellow than green.
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