"The Jade Skull"
Valley of the Dinosaurs #2 (Charlton)
Writer and artist unknown (but appears to be the same as
credited in later issues from VOTD #4 onwards as Fred Himes)
A jade skull that represents peace between
two warring tribes is stolen.
Greg catches a couple of the cave-dweller
tribe members stealing the jade skull kept by the tribe's
patriarch, a symbol of the peace settlement established with the
river people they had once warred with. The loss of the ornament
could result in renewed war with the rival tribe, which is just
what the thieves, Zurko and Torg, want, feeling the
cave-dwellers would win a new war and gain new hunting grounds.
The ruckus put up by Greg and Katie brings other tribesmen and
Zurko and Torg are exiled, but the two return that night and
take not only the skull, but also Greg and Katie as captives,
while leaving evidence that the river people are the culprits.
John Butler, of course, does not buy the evidence, and gains 24
hours from the tribe to find his kids and prevent a war.
With the help of Gorok and Lok, John sets
out to follow the kidnappers' trail. Meanwhile, Greg and Katie
manage their own escape from Zurko and Torg, but are then
menaced by a Pteranodon, from which they are saved by
Lok. Members of the river tribe witness the events and capture
Zurko and Torg. Lok, Katie, and Greg are returned to the
cave-dwellers, with the jade skull.
The jade skull seen in this story may be a reference to the
various crystal skulls alleged by their finders to have been
discovered in Latin and South America and to be
pre-Columbian in origin, though their historical legitimacy
has not been proven and often contested. The skull depicted
here seems to have a more Neanderthal-like shape than the
human tribes generally seen in the Valley; possibly it is
meant to suggest that the skull is extremely old, dating to
a time when Neanderthals were the dominant hominins in the
Valley; alternatively, it may simply be a stylized version
of a human face.
This story reveals that the cave-dwellers had for years
engaged in wars with the river tribes until a peace
settlement was reached, symbolized by a jade skull in the
care of the leaders of the cave-dwellers.
On page 2, Lok's comments in his fight with Torg imply that
John Butler has been giving self-defense lessons to the
young man. One would think that the cave-dwellers would
already be fairly self-reliant on such topics, but I suppose
John could have merely imparted some modern day Western
self-defense moves; this is later supported by a line in
"Bride Battle" stating he had received boxing lessons from
This story reveals that the cave-dwellers' patriarch is
The pterosaurs on pages 3 and 4 appear to be
Much like the Marshalls on
Land of the Lost,
the Butlers are seen to sleep in their clothes.
The sauropod dinosaur on page 5, panel 5 appears to be a
On page 6, the cave-dwellers seem ready to believe the river
people have stolen the jade skull from them in an act of
war, based on flimsy evidence planted at the scene of the
crime. Can they really be so dumb as to believe that the
river people just happened to choose the night after Zurko
and Torg's attempt to steal the skull to commit the same
On page 7, panel 1, a couple of horse-like creatures are
running by. These
may be the extinct species Eohippus, a miniature ancestor of
the modern horse, known to have lived in North America
during the Eocene epoch 56-34 mya.
The bird seen flying through this same panel is
Archaeopteryx judging by the large frond-tail.
On page 7, Katie implies that Greg used to like to watch old
movies on TV back home.
The shape of the tree branch on which Greg lands changes
throughout pages 8-10.
The pterosaur seen in the background sky of the last panel
of the story appears to be another Pteranodon.
The end of the story implies that the cave-dweller renegades
Zurko and Torg have been imprisoned at the river people's
village instead of being returned home for justice.
Back to Valley of the Dinosaurs