Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa’s continuing coverage of the adventures of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter has started to take a turn for the personal, and that’s a great development. In this issue, Turok is brought before the two chiefs of the Cahokians (someone please tell me if that’s inaccurate, but he addresses them as “Children of Cahokia,” so I’m making my best guess here), who deem him traitor for wearing designs only taught to their own tribe. It turns out he learned them from his mother. That’s right: you get to find out what happened to Turok’s parents. And in perhaps classic Turok fashion, it’s not exactly pretty.
There’s also a good teaser at the end for the upcoming war between the Cahokians and the Mongols, led by Altani. The formal experiment leading up to it in terms of panel layout is pretty great as well, and I like that Pak and Co. are using this as a place to shake things up and try new stuff. Turok is an established property that we know pretty well (I mean, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is one of the most expository titles of all time, right? Right.), but he’s not on as short a leash as if he were writing, say, Batman or Storm. There’s room for experimentation, and I’m glad they’re taking advantage of it and going for it, because it’s working.
You all know I’ve been digging the dinosaur battling and alternate history Pak has been laying down the past few months with Mirko Colak and Miyazawa, but this month’s issue is a step in a good direction towards fleshing out Turok’s character even more. In the beginning, we got Angry Young Turok, wronged by his tribe, isolated. Angsty, in general. Now, we’re getting a Turok whose anger is tinged with sadness. He’s growing as a person, and he’s becoming more melancholy. Instead of an overwhelming sense of betrayal, he’s feeling a sense of rueful duty, the thing he must do but that he doesn’t necessarily have to like. It’s less fun than the title of the book would have you believe, but it’s still a fulfilling read.
For once, I do have a critical thing to say about an issue of Turok, though (cue: boos, hisses, Victorian ladies fainting). Sound effects. They’re a double-edged sword, especially nowadays. They’re one of the most distinctly cartoonish elements that have translated to comics, and they tend to read as childish, unless they’re used well. For example, Frank Miller (after Will Eisner) liked to make the panels themselves into sound effects, and it was innovative, so it worked. On the other hand, if you see a bunch of “BRAKKABRAKKABRAKKA”s when there’re machine guns being fired, it doesn’t seem necessary, and it doesn’t add a super lot to the scene. (I’m of course speaking in broad generalizations, and ignoring all the times when sound effects are intentionally overblown to make you notice them and create a Brechtian distance, which is a whole other article).
The sound effects in Turok are usually well done, but in this issue, they seem half-baked, which is to say that they were distinctly noticeable. They’re not wrong sound effects—it’s not like the dinosaurs are making chicken clucking noises or something. They just feel more like WordArt than intentionally designed and placed sound effects to enhance the reading experience. It’s a little jarring, because a good sound effect should have a through line of design to usage that makes it seem like a part of the world the book lives in. I didn’t feel that with these.
This is all to say that if you aren’t overly bothered by sound effects, this is another in a series of stellar issues of Turok. If you are bothered by sound effects, the offenses are not so egregious as to ruin Pak and Miyazawa’s stellar work. Now, we just get to wait until the war starts—and won’t that be fun.
Writer: Greg Pak Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/9/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital