Back in 1997, I spent a lot of time giving myself square eyes and working on some premature frown wrinkles playing a video game called Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Playing as Tal’Set, your only job as the designated Turok is to navigate your way through The Lost Land, avoid being eaten alive by various dinosaurs and miscellaneous fantasy beasts, find the eight pieces of something called the CHRONOSCEPTER (top marks for gadget name), and avoid letting The Campaigner (no marks for baddie name) rip the walls of space and time down with it to rule the universe. You’re sold, right? And so was I. Hungry for more time-bending Native American dino lore, I discovered it was based on a comic book, which featured Turok and his friend Andar bombing around somewhere very similar called The Lost Valley, and fighting for their life against barbarians and HONKERS, which is what they called the dinosaurs. Again, not the best choice of words, but as a big fan of beasts, barbarians, and, er, honkers, I ate up as much of it as I could get my hands on.
Appearing again briefly in 2008 in his very own animated movie, Turok: Son of Stone, he’s now returned to us once again, drawn by Roberto Castro (Lord of The Jungle, Red Sonja, Conan) and given his trademark stoicism by Ron Marz (Green Lantern, Cyberforce).
It’s all guns blazing from the git-go, as we open in 1873 on Andar being dragged through the scorched earth canyons of Colorado by one Captain Connors. No sooner than the big ol’ racist so much as dare to suggests that Andar is alone in the world, do his men start dropping like flies, courtesy of arrows flying seemingly out of thin air. Turok finally shows himself, freeing and rescuing Andar, and nicking the Captain’s horse to boot.
Don’t worry, in case there was any doubt, before the end of the first issue, we’re treated to the colonial Americans being torn to shreds by what they assume is a big lizard, and Andar and Turok outwitting them at the last minute by passing through a glittering blue portal that appears before them in the otherwise deserted canyon – obviously. What lies through the portal? Honkers. Loads of them. And that’s where we’re left, as hungry for more as a lost and cranky velociraptor.
The art, for me, is drenched in fantastic nostalgia. A nostalgia steeped in (probably extremely politically incorrect terming of, but not mine, sorry) the Cowboys and Indians comics of the ‘80s that featured glossy covers and what was basically toilet paper inside. Castro knows how to work a seemingly pretty barren and dusty landscape into something that radiates heat and misery from the page, using only tiny details. As the portal reveals what Turok and Andar don’t yet know to be The Lost Land, we’re treated to hordes of dinosaurs roaming the plains. With prehistoric reptilian beasts before them, and angry slave drivers at their back; adventure awaits, and who knows what else. Not just that, but I’m quite looking forward to finding out if they still get called Honkers in 2019 or not. A great start. Sophie Francois