Sunday, May 25, 2014
Turok: Son of Stone #1, #2, #3, and #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
Turok has been my go-to favourite comic book character since 2002, so as you can imagine, I get pissed when I read a shit Turok comic (I'm lookin' at you, Dynamite!), and I'm overjoyed when I read a great one. With Dark Horse's failed Dark Key line, I was actually hoping Turok, Son of Stone* would suck massive donkey balls, as then I wouldn't feel bad that it only lasted for four issues, but this is actually a really good read!
*This is thankfully called Turok, Son of Stone. Being called Dinosaur Hunter really does limit what you can do with the series, as it means your character must almost always be fighting dinosaurs.
A band of maurauding Aztecs have attacked a village and are about to sacrifice a boy, Andar, when he is freed by Turok, a Native American Indian. The two escape, but they, as well as the Aztecs, are caught in a strange storm that whisks them all away to the Lost Valley, a place of dinosaurs, a lost Aztec city, and people from the present and the future...
1-Out of Time
This issue is a very good opener. It introduces the characters, the villains, and the Lost Valley, with good writing to boot.
We know nothing of Turok this first issue, but due to his actions, we care for him more than Dynamite's boring chip-shouldered Turok. And Andar gets pretty good characterization. The villains are brutal and interesting, and that's all there is to them for now.
One moment I found funny was when the escaped slave who teams up with Turok and co. for a few pages dies. Not wanting to die a horrific death at the hands of the Aztecs, Nadahende screams "I beg you...!", and Turok strikes an arrow through his heart! I don't think that's what he meant, dude!...I kid, I kid, although I do wish that the writer had had Nadahende say more, like "I beg you, please kill me".
The artwork isn't great, but you'll soon be transfixed by the story enough that you won't notice the subpar illustration.
The cover's ok, albeit a little non-indicative. Speaking of, there are prints of the #1's of the Dark Key line that say '48 page bonus first issue!' and stuff like that, which is a borderline lie! Yeah, these first issues are 40 to 48 pages, but that's not because they're longer, but because the first issues of the original Turok/Solar/Magnus/etc. are included. This is appreciated, although I wish those covers'd be a little more honest and a little less deceptive.
There's one moment (in the above image) where either speech bubbles come from the wrong character, or that piece of dialogue is just really poorly written. This only happens just the once, thankfully.
This is a fine opening issue, and the end really leaves you craving more!...
2-God and Goddess
Just when I was expecting this to be a purely historical series, BOOM, laser guns!
While we still know almost nothing of Turok's past, he's still a likeable lead. Aasta, a woman sucked into the strange valley from the future, is introduced this issue, and she has a pretty good character. I like that she's Norwegian, rather than English. It's less cliche, and it makes it believable that she and Turok can converse (albeit with some minor difficulty), as vikings went to the America's back in the day. Andar does and says barely anything this issue, but that isn't too bad, as it's got plenty of other stuff to establish.
The Aztecs make for great, brutal villains, and there's good characterization for the Aztec emperor, who may be an evil psycho, but is willing to give his life on the sacrificial altar when they run out of slaves to appease their gods with. Not that it comes to that though, as things get in the way, which is good, as we wouldn't have a main villain otherwise.
The artwork in this second issue is better than the previous one. It's decent, but not great. But just like the previous issue, you'll likely get too drawn into the story to care. The cover's pretty cool, too.
This issue has a real sense that things are coming to a head, and boy do they do just that!
3-Blood for the Sun
This issue suffers badly because of the art, which has taken a severe downturn. The artists of #1 and #2 left for whatever reason (probably the Dark Key schedule slip), and have been replaced by the jackasses here who had the hilarious delusion that they could draw. Characters are poorly angular and sketchy, while anything in the distance is terribly underdrawn.
This issue also misspells divine as devine, and spells magic with a 'K'. Now that I'm willing to be a bit more lenient on, as Magick is an archaic spelling...But I'll complain anyway, because anyone who spells it that way not from the 12th Century comes across as annoying to me. And there's one briefly appearing character named Nomsa who is really hard to understand due to her broken 'English'.
The cover is pretty awesome, thankfully. It's good to know there's at least one piece of good art here.
The bad artwork really throws you off, but this is still a very good issue. There's not much plot or character, as it's a lead-in to the grand finale...
4-Death from Above
This is a great ending to the story! This plot hasn't been perfect, and it's not exactly deep, but it's action packed, got great villains, and entertaining protagonists.
I only have two problems with this comic. One is what Turok calls Aasta at one point when attacking a dinosaur trying to kill her-"Let go of my woman!" Jesus, is there little wonder why I think Jim Shooter is responsible for a lot of the horrible sexism in Avengers #200?! Whether it be in Valiant comics, or here, he's constantly having characters talk about 'their women'! At least it's lampshaded here by Aasta.
And my other problem comes in the final fight. Turok, Son of Stone really must be made of stone, as near the end, a large stone pillar is toppled down onto him, and he's perfectly fine!
Andar's really been floundering as a character after the first issue! But there is a lot going on, so I can understand his character not advancing much. I'm sure it would have had the series gone on.
Thunder Hand, a space guy from the future has been a pretty entertaining character these last few issues, and added something different into the mix.
The art still sucks, as the jerkoffs from last issue are still around. The cover's pretty cool though. Thankfully other people were responsible for the covers in this series.
The plot here ends with great bookendings, plotwise ('honour their sacrifice', and dreams), and character-wise with Thunder Hand.
It truly is a shame that this is the Turok series that only lasts four issues, whereas Dynakey's is still ongoing. I wholeheartedly recommend Turok, Son of Stone, in hindsight a graphic novel, and the fact that all Dark Key comics are available digitally for only a dollar each on Dark Horse's website is even better! If you're interested, go forth and enjoy!