I don’t know how many more weeks I’ll be forced to recommend this book at the top of my internet-lungs before you’ll take my advice, but hear me when I say you should be reading Turok and you should be reading it right now. In this issue, Turok, Andar and company take the fight back to the Crusaders, who continue to reveal what actual bastards they are. It’s a lot of fun, and there’s a huge T-Rex chase, which can never be a bad thing. And while the dinosaur times are all good times, what keeps me coming back to this book is what a strange and compelling character they’ve created in Turok himself.
Turok gives an impassioned eulogy at the beginning of this issue for a man who wronged him many times. Andar asks him to give it because, since Turok’s parents are dead, he “knows how to mourn,” which I think was intended as a compliment but was, in execution, pretty cold. After the eulogy, Turok reveals that he doesn’t believe in the gods, or a benevolent protector, or any of that mumbo-jumbo. The concept of atheism, or even agnosticism is one that we as Americans rarely think about when we think about Native Americans. There’s this slightly racist image left over in my mind from Looney Tunes and its ilk of Native Americans in enormous headdresses with long-stem pipes and totem poles praising the Coyote and all the other Native American deities. Atheism seems like a fairly modern and civilized belief, but is it really all that advanced? I’m sure people have doubted the existence of a greater power in the universe since the universe began. This simple character beat in a comic book made me think all these things about how I live my life. If that’s not a sign of a well-told story, I may not actually know anything about narrative at all.
Aside from the cultural notes about Native Americans, the other thing I really dig about this book is the handling of the dinosaurs. As far as I can tell, Turok has yet to kill one. In fact, the only one he tried to kill is the one that tried to kill him, and which was about nineteen times his size, which makes him a pretty shitty dinosaur hunter. Instead, he’s riding them, and trying to figure out what they are, how they ended up on the island of Manhattan, how they ended up wherever the Crusaders came from. It’s a nice upending of the traditional structure of the Turok story, and I really hope he ends up with a Red Drake that he rides like a steed at all times. I could see a good Lone Ranger vibe happening with that.
Also, in the interest of science, the Native characters in Turok refer to the dinosaurs as “bird-lizards.” It’s not a super big deal, but the paleontology community has come to some conclusions about dinosaurs since Jurassic Park, like that they were more closely related to birds than lizards, and probably had feathers. All the dinos in this book have some sort of plumage, and coloring more closely related to birds than lizards, favoring the bright and colorful as opposed to the green and camouflaged. It’s a sign that Colak is doing a whole lot of homework, and it shows in his art.
The downside at this point is that the book is starting to run the risk of stagnation. Taken as a whole, these first three issues have been one big battle, which has to end sometime soon. To paraphrase a Murder By Death album, who will survive? What will be left of them? I’m ready to see those questions answered before we get more character work from Pak, Colak & co., but for now, I’m still thoroughly enjoying the ride.
Writer: Greg Pak Artist: Mirko Colak with Cory Smith Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/2/14 Format: Ongoing - Print/Digital