Friday, July 11, 2014

Turok, Dinosaur Hunter #1 (Classic Valiant)

Say, are you a huge fan of the Turok video games, and are interested in seeing the acclaimed Valiant Comics run? Or maybe you've heard all the hype for Valiant's Solar, Man of the Atom, or Magnus, Robot Fighter, and want to read them. Well tough, you can't. No-one can, as they are in copyright hell and cannot be saved. Dark Horse used to own the rights to the characters, and while it reprinted all the classic Gold Key issues, it didn't touch the Valiant ones. Since their screw-up, the rights to the three characters now rest with Dynamite Comics, who are writing their own Gold Key remakes, but you know what they haven't done? Reprinted the Valiant Turok, Solar, or Magnus. And it's not because they just don't want to, but because they can't either! That's right, not only can Valiant not reprint three of their biggest series', but not even the current rights-holders to those characters can either! Jesus!

Ok, shifting all that out of the way, I've managed to get a copy of Turok, Dinosaur Hunter Issue #1, one of the most best-selling comics of the 90's, with over 1.7 million copies sold! Wow, the 90's were awesome for the comics industry! It's just a shame that the industry crashed in '96.

Native American Indian Turok has had a long life. Back in the 1800's, he and his fellow tribesman Andar journeyed through a long and mysterious cave system, and when they emerged, the found themselves in The Lost Lands, a strange place where 'time has no meaning'. There they find a new tribe, and live with them until a supposed god named Mothergod comes, with intent to make the universe better. Turok sides with her, but soon realizes of her evil and fights against her. Many months later, the war in the Lost Lands ends, and Turok is flung forward in time to 'present day' Colombia, along with dozens, if not hundreds of Mothergod's evil dinosaur cyborgs...

This issue starts off all narration, extensively going over Turok's backstory and history, and this is a big mistake! This comic will make you yell 'Show! Don't tell!' over and over again. Thankfully, while the narration is still annoyingly everpresent, the second half is when the story actually starts proper.

It's a decently written story, although aside from the above problem, it's also cliched. In the Lost Lands, Turok's adopted tribe was slaughtered by Mon-Ark and others while Turok was distracted elsewhere, and soon after, when he's back on Earth, and finds another tribe to live with...Mon-Ark and co. attack them while Turok's lured away. Way to think outside of the box, writer! How many damn adopted tribes is Turok gonna lose? Is he like Paul Kersey? Everyone in a 100 mile radius he loves dies for dramatic tension?

While we barely seem him interact with anyone, Turok is a decent character, mainly due to his interesting Native American beliefs and practices.

As for the villains, I very much like the concept of the dinosoids, what with their bionic implants transforming them from mere animals who kill for food into intelligent and cruel beasts. Mon-Ark is an ok bad guy, but his name is stupid! Mon-ark, Syberidol, DarcThornn, Terminator Genesys, etc. Goddamn 90's!...and 2015...

The writing itself is ok, and pretty great in the final battle of the issue. There's also one funny line Turok says when narrating about how Mothergod came to him. "Naturally Andar and I swore allegiance. Only fools and white men deny the wisdom of gods". Haha, wow, Turok is a racist! There's also an almost unintentionally hilarious line where Turok says 'I've killed a tree!' after his arrow misses his dinosoid target.  I say almost, because while that does sound silly, Native American Indian beliefs are very much one with nature, so I can buy that Turok would actually say something like that. The issue's title is stupid though-Cold Blood Blazing. How can blood blaze? Especially if it's cold!

The artwork is subpar at best, Liefedian at worst, with Turok's musculature sometimes looking ridiculous! The cover is also meh.

Lemme tell you, this first issue really didn't leave me optimistic for the rest of the series, but the rest of the series pulls through! Once #1 gets all the establishing and backstory out of the way, the series really starts proper in Issue #2. In fact, if you're ever foolhardy enough to go looking for a series this hard to find, forget #1 altogether and start with #2. Granted, it's not great, but it's entertaining at the least.

My advice is to simply ignore this series. It's too hard and/or costly to find (even attempting to download scans from 'questionable' sources is a useless venture, and when even that can't get you what you want, you know you're fucked), so stick with the three N64 games, and say nuts to anything else...

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