In recent years, the Tyrant Lizard has met its comeuppance — at least in the comics pages. I'm not sure exactly when the "look at the dangerous dinosaur with the funny little arms!" meme started, but I've seen some doozies. Most of them have been on the Web, with the T-Rex facing difficulty with everything from push-ups to self-gratification. GoComics has seen some winners as well, like this Brevity from 2011.
Mark Parisi of "Off The Mark" had a pretty good one here back in 2010. More recently, the opening week of WuMo (in syndicated form — the strip itself has been thriving for a decade online) saw T-Rex in one of his most pathetic poses yet.
To me, this was really the gold standard of "T-Rex with tiny arms" gags, far surpassing any of the indie-t-shirt offerings that sprout like weeds on the sidebars of the junk news sites I visit each day. It requires no words, and the expression on his face and the motion blur of his little left arm make us feel sorry for him even as we laugh at his plight. It could have easily been the last word in the conversation, but for good measure, Comics Sherpa standout "Rogue Symmetry" recently dealt the meme another blow (while simultaneously scoring laughs) in this now-viral panel.
Good stuff. And a good point. But I somehow doubt we've seen the last of the simultaneously fearsome and helpless tiny-armed dino. Why? Not just because it's funny, but because of what the fearsome T-Rex with the pitiful arms symbolizes:
Humans can erect huge cities, fly all over the earth and into space, harness the power of the atom and instantaneously connect to people all over the globe. But when it comes to halting or reversing the effects of climate change, removing harmful chemicals from our food supply, or achieving peace between nations (or on our own streets), human beings are as helpless as a T-Rex reaching for a roll of toilet paper.
Does that sound a little overly cynical? Perhaps. Surely there is plenty of laugh at about humanity that will eventually be parodied in hilarious detail by whatever life forms inherit the planet after it's done with us. But since that might take another 65 million years, I'll just keep on enjoying these T-Rex comics while we have them.