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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Valley of the Dinosaurs: The Jade Skull "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.


Story Summary


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. 




Didja Know?


This story is also reprinted in Valley of the Dinosaurs #1, a giant-size one-shot issue published by Harvey Comics in 1993.


Didja Notice?


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 John.


This story reveals that the cave-dwellers' patriarch is named Luma.


The pterosaurs on pages 3 and 4 appear to be Pteranodons.


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 Brontosaurus.


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 theft?


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 probably 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.  


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