Turok is rapidly becoming one of the books I look forward to most every month. I love the way Pak and Colak are turning the concept of Dinosaur Hunter on its head, I love the frantic artwork, I love the writing. I have a lot of love for the Turok franchise from back in my halcyon days when I had the N64 game. I don’t remember much of the plot, and without venturing to Wikipedia, I recall that it involved interdimensional travel, quasi-gods, and weapons that were not technologically available to a Native American in this time period (like shotguns). These things are excellent – when you’re seven. A lot of things are awesome when you’re seven. Astronaut ice cream, digging for fossils in the backyard, following your parents’ political ideologies. Turok the video game is one of those things. Does it hold up? Does any of it? I went to emulator territory and I can say, no. No, it really doesn’t hold up.
Luckily for all of us, Dynamite has got their mitts on the Gold Key titles, like Turok, and they gave them to first-class creators, like Pak and Colak. I think where this comic is succeeding where others may have failed is it knows that the primary concept, the core conceit of this series... is that there are fucking dinosaurs interacting with a Native American. It doesn’t have to get more ridiculous because it’s already reached the height of ridiculous. Its ridiculous quotient is already off the charts. Where Pak has made a genius move is that (so far) his series is just a world where these things happen. It’s in the spirit of the genre, of the Edgar-Rice-Burroughs-y world that Turok grew up from, that weird shit just happens. John Carter gets transported to Mars. Tarzan learns how to speak Ape language and also basically fluent English. Turok is a Native American who hunts dinosaurs. I mean, I think there was a Savage Land kind of explanation, but largely you just had to know that was this world, and you were getting into it.
One other thing that Pak and Colak are doing really well is coding Native American culture as capital-N Native culture. It’s a nitpicky, semiotic thing, but we all know that in comic books, foreign languages are put in bracket <like this>. In Turok, the language of Turok’s tribe (presumably the Lenape) is coded as being the original language, and the language of the Crusaders is coded as the foreign or “other” language. It’s a simple thing, and it shouldn’t come as a pleasant surprise, but it really does.
Pak is also doling out his exposition really carefully, with the introduction of Marion in this issue. She does a lot of explaining to Kita that Kita obviously has no comprehension of, and we get just enough by way of world-building that we’re satisfied. There hasn’t been a huge reveal of like, “OH MAN ACTUALLY THO THE DINOSAURS CAME FROM FUCKING JOTUNHEIM” or something ridiculous, but there has been an established sense of where the dinosaurs might have come from and how long they have been here.
Colak’s art is nothing to shake a stick at, obviously. He renders human emotions with an incredible sense of style, and manages to capture the same impulses with the dinosaurs that Turok isn’t actually even hunting (yet?). He also captures the color of the animals. They’re not all a uniform military drab scheme, they’re vibrant and bright, and that makes them even more threatening.
I can’t recommend enough that you pick up the series. Honestly, what’s it gonna take?
One more thing: Remember how last time in the group review, I said the dinosaurs could be bigger?
I don’t have that problem anymore.
Writer: Greg Pak Artists: Mirko Colak with Cory Smith Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date:3/5/14