Friday, December 5, 2014

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter by Dynamite Comics (2014)

Cover blurb

THE GOLD KEY UNIVERSE BEGINS HERE! Classic Characters by some of Comics Hottest Creators! - Magnus, Solar, Turok and Dr. Spektor! Dynamite is proud to present an all-new adventure ongoing from superstar GREG PAK (Batman/Superman, World War Hulk) and incredible artist MIRKO COLAK (Red Skull: Incarnate, Conan)! Shunned from his tribe, a young Native American named Turok fights to survive, making a lonely life for himself in the unforgiving forest. But his hard-won cunning and survival skills face the ultimate test when man-eating THUNDER LIZARDS attack his people! Why are dinosaurs here? How have they survived? And will Turok use his abilities to save a society that's taken everything away from him?

*Blurb from the first issue of the series.

My thoughts

Turok is a hard man to kill, and not just in his stories. Few comic book characters have been rebooted as often as the "Dinosaur Hunter." He got his start in 1954 in the comic Turok: Son of Stone. In this first outing, he was a pre-Columbian Native American who, along with his young sidekick Andar, stumbles into a lost valley of dinosaurs. He was resurrected in 1993 (the same year Jurassic Park hit theaters) as a gun-wielding hero who found himself up against aliens and cyborg dinosaurs. There were a couple more attempts to revive the comic, but what most people know the character from is the 1997 video game, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. After a handful of sequels, the game was rebooted in 2008, this time turning Turok into a space marine. He even starred in a 2008 direct-to-video animated movie, Turok: Son of Stone, which is a surprisingly decent film.

And that brings us to the most recent incarnation of the comic book series: Dynamite’s Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. There is no way to review this comic without giving away the big plot twist in the first issue, which shapes the rest of the series. So here’s a summary of my thoughts if you want to skip the spoilers below: I hated it.

In Dynamite’s take on the character, Turok is a young outcast whose parents were murdered by their adopted tribe. Andar is no longer his sidekick but a tormenting bully. The two are drawn together when dinosaurs suddenly appear and attack Andar’s companions. And where did the dinosaurs come from? They were brought to North America by European Crusaders who discovered the New World roughly two centuries before Christopher Columbus.

You see, in the alternate timeline of the comic, dinosaurs exist in the Old World and have been integrated into medieval society. The terrible lizards helped Europeans conquer the Middle East and now the Crusaders have turned their sights on the Americas. The first four-issue arc of the series concerns Turok’s efforts to free Andar’s tribe from the foreign invaders. The next four-issue arc sees Turok journey west, where he encounters a tribe of city dwellers under threat from Genghis Khan’s hordes, who have also managed to find their way to the New World.

I’ll give the creators of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter credit for trying to take the comic in a different direction by setting it in an alternate timeline rather than a lost valley. Still, there is little else to recommend. The writing suffers from trying to cram too much action into too few issues, resulting in illogical leaps in plot and character development. The setting is surprisingly unimaginative: Wouldn’t European culture have evolved in a different direction had dinosaurs still existed? Why settle for generic knights in armor when you could have had something more exotic? And the art goes from serviceable in the first four issues to damn ugly in the next four.

Poor Turok: Someday you will get a reboot worthy of your legacy. Just not today.

Trivia
  • Turok features feathered dinosaurs, or at least partially feathered dinosaurs. Still, none are drawn with any great skill.
Reviews

1 comment:

Ken Miller said...

I'm sure that if dinosaurs had remained alive in Europe there would be no humans alive there to become knights.