All 16 ‘Jurassic Park’ stories, ranked (Movie, book and comic book commentary)

“Jurassic Park” might not seem like a candidate for lots of spinoff material – and indeed, the franchise has contented itself with blockbuster films as of late. (The latest, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” lands Friday, June 22.) But there have been enough comics released through the years to pad out a list of  distinct “JP” yarns. Here’s a ranking of every “Jurassic Park” story, from the worst comic books to the best of Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton.

(Updated in December 2018 with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”)

16. “Raptor” Issues 1-10 (1993-94, Topps Comics) – Topps’ initial continuation from the movie’s narrative (later packaged as “Jurassic Park Adventures”) is utterly absurd, as Grant, Ellie, Malcolm and Muldoon are flippant about the fact that velociraptors are loose in South America. Although poorly executed, there are some decent ideas here, such as a bad guy controlling raptors to use as weapons – a precursor to “Jurassic World.” (Full review)

15. “Jurassic Park” Issue 0 (1993, Topps Comics) – “Genesis” features the (implied) first successful dinosaur hatching – of a T-rex. While Gennaro is the audience surrogate as he sees the under-construction park, the story gives more insight into Hammond, who screens clips from beloved old dinosaur movies to try to inspire the lawyer. “Betrayal” is more straightforward, as Nedry whines about being underpaid and then realizes he can steal embryos and get a payday on the side. (Full review)

14. “Return to Jurassic Park” Issues 1-4 (1995, Topps Comics) – This title takes things a tad more seriously than the “Raptor” series, and it’s interesting to see several moments repurposed from Crichton’s original novel. But the “Green Flame” arc peters out, as we never find out what the corrupt U.S. military men are up to on Isla Nublar. (Full review)

13. “Return to Jurassic Park” Issue 9 (1996, Topps Comics) – “Jurassic Jam” – one story with a bevy of artists – chronicles a pre-movie snafu in the park caused by rats eating through cables (now that’s chaos theory). We get a taste of Nedry’s “woe is me” attitude, and we see an encounter that explains why Muldoon respects the T-rex. (Full review)

12. “Jurassic Park Annual” (1995, Topps Comics) – Yet another pre-movie mishap is caused by a kid’s pet ferret that gets loose and causes dino stampedes. The issue’s other yarn is darker and better, as Costa Rican bikers take on dilophosaurs that hatched on the mainland after eggs blew ashore. (Full review)

11. “Redemption” (2010, IDW Comics) – IDW’s first “Jurassic” entry proves it aims to do more substantial work than Topps generally did, and there are some nice continuity touches. We see what Tim and Lex are up as adults, and the return of another film character is intriguingly teased. But the story is too convoluted, and the art is weak. (Full review)

10. “Return to Jurassic Park” Issues 5-8 (1995-96, Topps Comics) – Jurassic Park geneticists Abby and Derrick get on the wrong side of a mad scientist during a time when Isla Nublar has gone back to nature. The madman’s inventions are ridiculous – including a “watchdog-sized triceratops” – but writers Tom and Mary Bierbaum lean into the fun, making the “Abby and Derrick” arc a delightful romp. (Full review)

9. “Dangerous Games” (2011-12, IDW Comics) – This is a precursor to “Jurassic World” in that it features a raptor-whisperer, although Frances – who has lived in the wilds of Isla Nublar with the creatures for years – is more compelling than Chris Pratt’s straightforward Hollywood hero. It also gives ole Rexy from the first film a dramatic part to play. (Full review)

8. “Jurassic Park III” (2001, movie) – “JPIII” does several things wrong. Isla Sorna feels different from when we last saw it thanks to new filming locations and a score that mistakenly cribs from the first movie instead of the second. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is annoyed to be on this rescue mission, and that attitude enhances the film’s sense of thematic randomness. But there are good set pieces – the pteranodon attack in the fog-shrouded aviary is memorably creepy – and if you set aside the saga’s high standards and the fact that the movie is missing a third act, this is a fun dino-filled adventure. (Full review)

7. “The Devils in the Desert” (2011, IDW Comics) – Comic veteran John Byrne delivers his usual excellent plotting and character work in a story where one of the pteranodons from Isla Sorna wreaks havoc in a small town in the California desert. While the comics’ covers make it seem like it’s a T-rex on the loose, we soon discover that flying dragons can do their share of slaughtering, too. If the film saga ever wants to do less-epic side stories, an adaptation of “Devils” would make an excellent horror entry. (Full review)

6. “Jurassic World” (2015, movie) – Director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow re-introduces the franchise in a big way while openly commenting on reckless industry practices and slyly commenting on film-goers’ demand for something bigger. While the movie is thin on the character front, the epic final fight featuring a T-rex, a genetically engineered I-rex, a mosasaur and a raptor named Blue makes up for a lot. Still, this is mostly set-up; we’ll want more fully developed characters in “Fallen Kingdom.” (Full review)

5. “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997, movie) – While I lament that David Koepp’s script doesn’t hew closer to Crichton’s novel, there’s still a lot to like about the movie version of “The Lost World,” which plays better at home since it’s a rare four-act story and you’ll feel exhausted if you don’t take a break. Nicely accented by John Williams’ moody score, Isla Sorna is primitive and scary. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and company no longer fear that dinosaurs have returned to nature, now they know it. Wonder has given way to horror. The four-issue comic adaptation features delicious artwork and some bonus scenes, and is definitely worth picking up. (Full review)

4. “The Lost World” (1995, Michael Crichton novel) – Every time I read this book I think “Now, why couldn’t this have been the movie?” Crichton is clearly thinking cinematically as he sets up gripping sequences that tie in nicely with scientific speculation: A pair of raptors fight each other to the death, T-rexes’ vision isn’t movement-based after all, and carnotauruses have chameleon ability. Plus, the author continues to explore evidence that dinos have escaped both islands, setting up a third novel that never came about before his death in 2008. (Full review)

3. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (2018, movie) – Director J.A. Bayona masterfully blends gothic horror imagery – note the raptor roaring in the rain and moonlight – with steadily paced action. This beefed-up answer to “The Lost World” also ratches up the commentary on corporatism with the darkly humorous auction of various dinosaurs. As expected, this all ends with Dr. Wu’s genetically engineered nightmare, the Indoraptor, on the loose, but that’s part of the fun. It’s also nice to see some character continuity in the saga, as Chris Pratt’s Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire form a bizarre but touching makeshift family with raptor Blue and orphan girl Maisie. (Full review)

2. “Jurassic Park” (1993, movie) – Twenty-five years later, the dinosaurs are still real, and they are spectacular. Along with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1990), this is the movie most quoted by me and my sister as kids. The first-act montage “explaining” how dinosaurs are made gets dumber on each viewing, and it makes no sense that there’s both a cliff and a level path to the road inside the T-rex paddock. But it doesn’t matter. The characters, dinos and thrills are iconic. Completists might want to check out the four-issue film adaptation, although it doesn’t offer any bonus scenes. (Full review)

1. “Jurassic Park” (1990, Michael Crichton novel) – The story that started it all was great both before (when we had to imagine the dinosaurs) and after (when Spielberg and Co. imagined them for us) the release of the film. Crichton’s novel is more epic in every way. The island seems bigger and more foreboding, and the threat to the planet seems significant, as the novel is bookended with evidence that dinosaurs are on the mainland. Action sequences from the book have been transplanted into every “Jurassic” film, as the tools of movie magic have slowly caught up with Crichton’s imagination. (Full review)

How would you rank the “Jurassic Park” stories? Share your comments below.


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