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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

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Valley of the Dinosaurs: The Children of Zutra "The Children of Zutra"
Valley of the Dinosaurs #4 (Charlton)
Art and story: Fred Himes
October 1975

 

The Butlers think they've found a way out of the Valley of the Dinosaurs.

 

Story Summary

 

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 friends.

 

THE END

 

Didja Notice?

 

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". Katie in a bikini

 

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 "Circle" 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 (now 55,000).

 

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. 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 Tylosaurus attacks!

 

The pterosaurs on page 6, panel 6 appear to be Pteranodons.

 

Unanswered Questions

 

Where did Zutra's gem come from? How did it get its powers? How did Zutra get a hold of it?

 

What becomes of Zutra after she loses the gem?

 

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