Review: Turok – Dinosaur Hunter #9

Issue 8 of Turok was a satisfying conclusion to a decent arc, telling another new story about the native cultures living in America at the time. Issue 9, however, is the Pocahontas cop-out, taking the story to a white-dominated culture for no apparent reason. The issue begins with Turok back with the old gang of Andar, Kita, Marion and Tom from the first arc, the survivors of the invasion of the “crab-men.” They are failing to make a living in Manhattan any more, given the rising amount of dinosaurs in the area and their inability as hunters, so they decide to move back to England. Turok commits the final funeral rites for his parents, and demonstrates how close he’s gotten to Frankie, his eyepatched/fucking awesome pet velociraptors before they leave. There’s a long sequence on the boat on the way there where Turok becomes the best at sailing, Frankie bites a sea monster in half, and Turok becomes fluent enough in English to read The Odyssey, The Conference of the Birds and Chrétien de Troyes. Upon landing, it becomes apparent that there will be courtly drama involving Marion and her previously forfeited land.

Turok09-Cov-SearsAll of this is to say that this is not a bad issue. It is well-told, and it handles the extreme passage of time of people sailing across the Atlantic Ocean with aplomb, without letting it get boring. My biggest problem with the arc that this issue kicks off is... do we really need another version of the Pocahontas story/ “stranger in a strange land” tropes? There are a thousand different tribes of Native Americans whose cultures exist to this day—how many were there in 1210 AD whose stories could still be told? I realize Turok is not meant to be a surveyor of Native American cultures, introducing us to the Mannahatta one month, the Cahokians the next, but he is intended to be a singular character with a singular journey. The problem is that this journey seems like it will be about Marion and making sure Turok gets added into the European culture of 13th century England so that we’ll be more comfortable.

I’ve read those stories, guys. I haven’t read the stories of Native cultures 1000 years ago.

The art in this issue is by Lee Ferguson and Ruairi Coleman, newcomers to the series. Their style is much more kinetic and cartoony than Miyazawa’s has been. I don’t mean that as a dig, because it still works fine in context of the story, it just brings a lot of new elements with it; the colors are smoother, the linework bolder and less complicated. They fit this story well, and I think they’ll be a welcome new flavor for this arc.

Series scribe Greg Pak is joined on this arc by Paul Tobin, who is no slouch in his own right. I don’t know whose idea this new arc was, or what the division of labor was, but the big thing I enjoyed as a literature nerd was picking out the references in the canonical works that Turok reads on the boat. This loner, noble warrior, full of respect for his homeland and a desire to find something better, reads Beowulf, The Odyssey, The Conference of the Birds, and an epic romance by the French poet who was the first to use Sir Lancelot in a piece. If those aren’t pointed references, I don’t know what is, but they’re used in enough of a circumspect manner to make them fun easter eggs. Like I said, a well-put-together story in terms of structure, it just feels like a missed opportunity on the whole.

This is a good jumping on point for new readers, but it seems like it will be treading a lot of ground that we’re not unfamiliar with. For the more intriguing, breaking-ground kind of stories in the series, start back with issue 1.

Score: 3/5

Writers: Paul Tobin, Greg Pak Artists: Lee Ferguson, Rauiri Coleman Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/5/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital