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My generation will recognize him from the world of video games, debuting in 1997 on Nintendo 64 with a handful of cross-platform appearances since. Turok, however, has been around far longer than even the oldest of consoles. In fact, his origins go as far back as the early 1950s, with a degree of uncertainty surrounding who actually created the character. Yet another beneficiary of Dynamite’s Gold Key comic line, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is reemerging at just the right time.
The comic, as you might imagine, is about far more than slaying dinos. Turok is an exile among his people, an outcast who pays for the crimes of his parents. Exactly what his parents did is unclear. We are left to assume that they committed murder or were falsely accused of doing so. Regardless, this happened when Turok was a child, and he was left orphaned as a result. Now an adult, he is bullied and abused by his peers, encouraged by village elders to join society and pay his parent’s “debts,” but all Turok wants to do is live in exile. Time and again he asserts, “Alone is better.”
There are a few differences between Dynamite’s Gold Key reboot and Turok’s original mythology. For one, Andar, his partner in dinosaur extermination, has traditionally been his brother. Here, it appears he’s a very distant acquaintance, one who seems to take the lead in the abuse inflicted upon the titular hero. An unlikely alliance between the two is formed when they just scrape by a deadly dinosaur attack, leaving two others dead. The other major difference I was able to identify is that these dinosaurs don’t inhabit some hidden land. In the new Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, they were brought by the west to wreak havoc.
That’s right! Dinosaurs aren’t the only enemy. Dynamite has brought us a 21st Century twist on Turok, one that likely wouldn’t exist back in the 50s and 60s. Western explorers have unleashed hell on the native people of the Americas, pretending to act on behalf of god but actually pillaging in pursuit of riches. Turok and Andar have more to deal with than just flesh eating monsters thought long extinct; they have colonialism to combat, and I can’t wait to see what else this series has in store for us.
Greg Pak has written his way through a good chunk of the comic book universe, having dealt with such titles as Batman Superman, X-Men, Justice League, and Eternal Warrior. He now gets to reintroduce the world of comics to Turok, and I’m pleased with what he’s doing. Issue #1 was a bold start to the series, with lots packed into a single issue—maybe too much. I hope we learn more about Turok’s cryptic past, because a good chunk of time was spent on flashbacks that communicated very little, while other moments were over instantly. With so much there, scene transitions were a bit sloppy and difficult to follow.
Miro Colak appears to be quite new to comic book art when comparing his résumé to that of his writing partner. While indeed a skilled artist, he and Pak continually attempted to squeeze a lot of narrative onto a single page. It makes for a series of scenes that feel overly rushed—scenes that hold, in my opinion, a degree of importance. Colak also likes arranging his panels in the form of one-inch high strips on top of one another that causes the comic to read like scrolling film credits. A bit of diversity in the arrangement might do justice to the pacing and make the visual story more dynamic. Otherwise, it’s a beautifully drawn comic. The westerners at the end of the issue are especially striking.
Overall, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 has given me plenty to be excited about. I’m interested to see what the unlikely partnership between Andar and Turok leads to—if they’ll be able to set aside their many differences and, well, survive. It doesn’t bode well for the semi-helpless Andar if Turok carries his “alone is better” philosophies over to their new predicament. With a bit less crammed between the pages, and more time spent with smaller scenes, the now speedy pacing might slow to something a little more manageable. It’s a great story, and I wouldn’t any of it to slip through the cracks.