This was the first issue of DC SPECIAL to go all-new, and which signaled the end of reprint comics at DC for the time being. There’d still be a few stragglers, but from this point forward, virtually everything the company published in regular comic book form (and even in Treasury format) would be original material. I bought it at the 7-11 because I already liked Captain Comet from the pages of SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER VILLAINS, so i was happy to see him headlining in another book. His strange co-star, Tommy Tomorrow, I didn’t have any feeling for one way or the other.
One of the big themes throughout the 1970s in comic book publishing was that everybody was looking for the next trend, the next big hit. After the boom of the Batman TV Show-era of the 1960s, super heroes were seen as a genre that was on its last legs and might soon fade away. As a result, there was a sustained rush to find something new that would interest young audiences just as much. Barbarian comics, weird/mystery comics, newish western comics, movie adaptations and continuations, literary adaptations–all sorts of things were tried. As it turned out, super heroes still had plenty of life in them. But all of that explains why this particular issue of DC SPECIAL is devoted to Dinosaurs. Maybe this would be the new hot-button trend that would move units.
For all that, this is still a super hero comic, and it opens with a strange meteoroid tearing across the cosmos both in 1977 near the Justice League satellite and simultaneously in 2056 in deep space, where Tommy Tomorrow is returning from an assignment. The meteoroid tears a gash in the fabric of time and space, drawing Tommy’s craft into the past and also getting the attention of Hawkman and Captain Comet, who are hanging out on the JLA satellite on monitor duty. The meteoroid further makes its way back to 100,000,000 BC, and the rift it’s created allows the dinosaurs living in that era to pass into the present day of 1977.
Back in the past, the radiations from the downed meteoroid mutate one of the native dinosaurs into the advanced humanoid Tyrano Rex, who proclaims the rock from space to be his god. Recognizing that their craft has been pulled into the past, Tommy Tomorrow and the Doctor he was escorting to treat a desperate plague situation in the Vega system head out to try to locate the meteoroid and work out a way to get home. They cross paths with Tyrano Rex, who orders his dinosaur brethren to attack them. All Tommy has is a handgun, and its charge will be depleted eventually, but it’s enough to fend off their attackers.
In the present, Hawkman leaves Captain Comet to hold down the fort while he ventures forth to rescue civilians imperiled by the dinosaurs. Comet uses the JLA monitors to check in on how other heroes are doing around the globe, and sees Chronos in front of a huge time portal. Thinking him a fellow hero, Comet streaks to his aid, figuring that the portal must be where the dinosaurs are coming from. He and Chronos fight side-by-side, and Comet’s mental telepathy tells him that Chronos is no hero, and that he’s actually responsible for this whole situation. Comet goes to try to close the portal, but Chronos intercedes–he’s after the meteoroid, too,and needs the portal to remain open until he can retrieve it for himself.
Back in the past, Tommy and the Doctor run the gantlet of savage dinosaurs, making their way back to their ship. They’ve seen the portal on their side, and realize that it’s the key to getting back to their own era. They direct their ship to fly towards the portal, and scoop up the meteoroid as they pass it, to power their journey back to the present. Unfortunately, they also get Tyrano Rex, who clings to his god-rock even as it is stolen.
So it’s a dual race, as Tommy and the Doctor try to hold off Tyrano Rex until their ship can get back to the future, while the time-corridor is closing because of Captain Comet’s efforts in 1977. The end result is that the ship, the meteoroid and Tyrano Rex all wind up coming through the portal in 1977. Tyrano shouts his claim over the rock, which tees Chronos off, and as the time-thief tries to get it away from the intelligent dinosaur-man, his shots go awry and wind up pulverizing the meteor.
Unfortunately, this causes Tyrano Rex to revert to his original dinosaur state, right in the middle of the city. Tommy uses his space-gun to distract the beast so that Comet can get the drop on him, and then summoning all his power, hurl him back through the closing portal. Meanwhile, his prize now lost, Chronos attempts to sneak away, but Tommy gets the drop on him, and holds him for Captain Comet (who he recognizes from the history books.) And then, in a short epilogue set back on the JLA satellite, Superman shows up, ready to take Tommy and his ship back to 2056 in plenty of time to avert that outbreak of plague. Hawkman and Captain Comet even get in a bit of good-natured ribbing.
Writer Bob Rozakis also contributed an amusing text page outlining how the story and project came about. There was also an uncredited history of Tommy Tomorrow text feature that looks to me like it could have been done either by editor Paul Levitz or, again, Rozakis. Apparently, this issue didn’t sell particularly well, as there were no further dinosaur-themed specials, nor for that matter solo stories featuring either Captain Comet or Tommy Tomorrow, not for a good while.