This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Apparently, Utah dinosaurs are delicious.
That's just one of the surprises in "Voracious," a comic miniseries debuting Wednesday from writer Markisan Naso and artist Jason Muhr.
After a massive fire burns down Nate Willner's New York City restaurant and claims his sister's life, he moves back home to the fictional southern Utah town of Black Fossil. A year later, he's still in a rut until he discovers a time-traveling diving suit in his late uncle's house.
The hangup is that saving his sister is out of the question; the suit can only take him to, of all places (or rather, of all times), the dinosaur-dominated Cretaceous. But with a stroke of luck, and a flamethrower, Nate makes lemonade out of lemons or rather, burgers out of dinosaurs he drags back to the present.
"I think it's unique. It's not like anything else out there," Muhr said.
Neither Naso nor Muhr is from Utah, but Naso has visited Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods, where the awe-inspiring natural bridges, soaring rock towers and stunning mountains left an impression. For Naso, not only is Utah a gorgeous setting and a break from the cities that tend to dominate comics, but its bone-filled foundations are rich with prehistoric potential.
"It's a hotbed for dinosaur action. It was in the past and it is now," he said. "It was a perfect place."
Nate gets a life-threatening glimpse at this "perfect place" when he runs into the likes of Quetzalcoatlus, one of the largest known flying animals the Earth has ever seen, or (later in the series) Therizinosaurus, a dinosaur with massive claws for hands. And the "Voracious" team isn't playing fast and loose with prehistory: All of the ancient creatures are Utah- and Cretaceous-specific.
They are, however, making sure their dinosaurs are more vibrant than their gray, brown and green counterparts common to the movies. The beasts brim with purples, blues, reds and golds, thanks to the book's colorist, Andrei Tabacaru.
The Cretaceous sections of the book are the most energetically colorful artwork by very conscious design. Nate's funk begins to ebb with his discovery of the lost world; as his world begins to brighten, so too does "Voracious."
"[The characters are] all facing these different forms of loss throughout the book and they have to deal with it in different ways," Naso said. "Nate happens to deal with it by making dinosaur sandwiches."
But "Voracious" won't stop with Quetzalcoatlus sliders. (A recipe in the back of the first issue, by the way, helpfully includes a chicken breast substitute.)
"The story starts out as one thing. You think it's a book about a guy time traveling, killing dinosaurs and serving them at his restaurant," Muhr said. "And by the end of the miniseries, it completely turns into something else, something bigger and something crazier. We hope people like it and stay with it, take the ride with us."
Available online at comixology.com and potentially at your local comic book store. "Voracious" is rated for "mature readers" and contains violence involving dinosaurs and strong language.