He’s a complicated man from a simpler world, who finds himself face-to-face with the saurian past, an era whose primary inhabitants suddenly want to have him for lunch. Your Major Spoilers review of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 awaits!
TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Lauren Affe
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Editor: Joe Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Turok: Dinosaur Hunter: Long ago, in the year 1954, Western Publishing (through their Dell Comics distribution arm) began telling the tale of a young Native American named Turok and his brother Andar, who were transported into a hidden land where dinosaurs still roamed free. Though surrounded by “honkers,” “flyers,” and “screamers”, Turok kept his head and made a life in the Hidden Valley, known also for its sublime ranch dressing. Now, five decades later, the original Dinosaur Hunter is back on the scene, as the first of their resurrected Gold Key properties, so prepare your best dinosaur jokes now.
AN INTERESTING TAKE.
The first images of the issue take place during Turok’s infancy, as his proud father tries to get him to say “Daddy” just as disaster strikes. Within the space of a single page, we see the tragedy that befell his family and people, before cutting sixteen years forward in the space of a single panel. The art is unique and has an interesting edge to it, with an angular feel that reminds me of the 80s work of Bill Sienkiewicz. Unfortunately, from the earliest panels, there’s a tendency for the figures and layouts to feel very stiff and linear, which works for much of the backgrounds, but doesn’t do anything for the human bodies we see on-screen. By his sixteenth year, Turok has become an outcast even among his tribe, living alone for the most part, and treated by the rest of the community as the weird kid, even getting called “witch boy” by his peers. Oddly (for those who remember the old Gold Key Turok series) those mean peers who torture him include Andar, who was traditionally his loyal friend and compatriot back in the day, leading to an odd dissonance as they beat one another senseless. When their battle gets too fierce, both young men are stunned to see a couple of their peers get torn to bits by dinosaurs (maybe raptors, but definitely feathered and cool looking), with only Turok’s paranoia saving their lives.
There are some excellent bits and pieces of story here, and I kind of enjoy Greg Pak’s reimagining of Turok, even as I realize that “crazy-prepared outcast orphan with incredible tactical abilities” is, essentially, Batman. The last few pages of the issue hit me with an unexpected plot point as the whens and wheres of our story, which make me wonder exactly where the story is going to go in coming months. Dynamite is apparently prepared to bring back all the Western Publishing characters (Magnus and Doctor Solar are apparently also on their plate for the new Gold Key line), but it wasn’t all that long ago that Dark Horse had little to no success with the characters in their own relaunch, which makes me wonder if the audience for these characters is still there. Granted, any property or character can be successful given an amazing writer or creative team, but there is a little bit of dissonance about Turok and what the story is going to be in this issue. With a title like ‘Dinosaur Hunter’, you have to expect some arrow-on-tyrannosaurus action, but a lot of the setup here has created conflict between Turok and his tribe, as well as between new and old worlds, which could be difficult to resolve with the expectation of velociraptors blowing up from explosive arrows.
THE BOTTOM LINE: IT’S GOT POTENTIAL.
Still, Pak’s script has a lot of interesting places it could go, and the additional conflict does add a new wrinkle to the adventures of a resourceful Native American fighting aliens and monsters in a world beyond his imagining. All in all, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 is a fresh start for a character who has had periodic flare-ups of notoriety, and could be the thing that makes him once-and-for-all a big name, earning a pretty impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Hopefully, coming months will smooth out some of the rough edges of the art, while Pak’s previous work has earned him at least a little credit that Turok’s adventures will go somewhere unique and interesting…