"The Children of Zutra"
Valley of the Dinosaurs #4 (Charlton)
Art and story: Fred Himes
The Butlers think they've found a way out
of the Valley of the Dinosaurs.
While diving in the local swimming hole,
Katie discovers an underwater cavern guarded by a giant stone
skull. She thinks it may be a way out of the Valley of the
Dinosaurs, just like the underwater cavern that brought her
family here in the first place. She tells her father about it
and he soon organizes the family into an expedition to seek
escape, saying goodbye to their cave-dwelling friends.
John has rigged some hollow vines for the
family to breathe as they plunge underwater and through the cave
entrance. They emerge into a gigantic air-filled cavern, where
they are attacked by a Tylosaurus. Escaping that
threat, they make their way through the cave tunnels and emerge
into yet another dinosaur-filled valley where they are quickly
captured by men dressed as lizards under the rule of a woman
named Zutra who uses a strange jewel she wears in a headband
that gives her hypnotic powers. She commands the strangers must
die in the boiling water pits.
Digger, who has evaded the humans' fate,
sneaks into the death ceremony and chews through the ropes
binding John's hands, freeing him. John manages to grab the
hypnotic jewel from Zutra's head and throws it into the boiling
pit, ending her reign. Escaping, the Butlers build a new raft
and make their way back to the valley of their cave-dwelling
The skull-shaped rock in the flash-forward scene of page 1 is
nothing like the skull falls scene in the body of the story.
This type of splash page in comic books was typical of the time;
the first page of the story was often a sort of surrealistic
flash-forward of a pivotal moment in the middle of the story.
In this story, we see Katie wearing an animal-skin bikini for
the first (and unfortunately, only) time. Her remark about
performing a championship swan dive may be considered a
reference to being a swim champion as mentioned by her father in
"The Challenge of Mata-Zin".
While swimming in the local swimming hole, Katie discovers an
underwater cave that leads to the realm of men dressed as
lizards. This may be a nod to the
episode of Land of the
Lost, where Will found an underwater cave in the local
swimming hole leading to the tunnels of the Lost City where the
lizard-like Sleestak lived.
As the Butlers leave their cave-dwelling friends behind in hopes
of finding the way out of the valley through the underground
cavern on page 3, panel 3, notice that Tana appears to have
a tear coming from her eye. Also, Greg remarks, "I still think
we should enter Lok in the Olympics!"
On page 4, panel 1, notice that even Digger is sucking air
underwater through one of the hollow vines prepared by John.
Seems unlikely that a dog would be able to do that! Also notice
that the Butlers are all swimming fully clothed and John and Kim
even have their boots on still!
Emerging into the huge underwater cavern, Greg exclaims that the
Astrodome would fit in there. The
Astrodome is a sports complex in Houston, Texas built in
1965 and home of the Major League baseball team the Houston
Astros. At the time this story was written, the Astrodome was
capable of seating about 45,000 spectators for a baseball game
How are the Butlers able to see inside the cavern? They carry no
torches or flashlights!
John refers to the sea beast that attacks the family as a
Tylosaurus was an actual mosasaur from the Late
Cretaceous and the depiction here is reasonably accurate.
In panel 5 of page 4, notice that Digger appears to be hiding
his head under the bound-up package of the Butlers' belongings
on the raft when the
The pterosaurs on page 6, panel 6 appear to be Pteranodons.