Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #003: In Strange Waters

Monday, February 3, 2020 at 9:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #003: In Strange Waters

Turok: Son of Stone #3

Turok goes through high water and back to help friends in need.

No longer a try-out in Four Color Comics, Turok: Son of Stone is now its own publication! For all intents and purposes, this changes nothing except the copyright indicia on the inside, and the addition of a new feature: a spotlight on prehistoric animals. The Ichthyosaurus gets the treatment today, and has more relevance to the upcoming story inside than the art on the front cover. There’ll be a slow trickle of extra features as the series goes on, eating pages away from Turok, but it typically results in tighter stories and more variety. You’re getting thirty pages of comics and some educational prose!

Turok and Andar suddenly remember about the tribe they’d taught archery to, and wonder how Lanok and his pals are doing. Why don’t they go pay a visit? But first, a wolf attack! It lasts all of one page and adds nothing to the story, besides kicking off the strip with some immediate danger.
This is Son of Stone‘s bread and butter – whenever there’s the faintest of lulls in the action (even before the story’s gotten started!), an animal will come out of the woodwork or a natural disaster will occur, either to threaten our heroes or just give the narration boxes something to talk about. It certainly gives you bang for your buck (or 10 cents in this case) with at least a half-dozen animal encounters per issue. You never feel short-changed, but it does get somewhat dizzying at times. What were we doing again?

Oh, right, backtracking. They revisit the cave of pteranodons, careful not to rouse the winged beasts, when they find Lanok. Why, that was convenient! It’s not, actually – the tribe have had to take shelter in here ever since a thundering tyrannosaurus (or “hopper” as the characters call it) has invaded their land! Armed with poison arrows, however, this is actually less trouble than you’d think, and the duo bring it down in only four panels.

But the fact remains a t-rex got in here in the first place; what’s stopping more from following suit? The group do a spot of reconnaissance and find a wooded island in the middle of a wide river, where no carnivorous honkers can reach. That sounds like an ideal new home for the tribe!

Building themselves a bull-boat, Turok and Andar scout out the island and camp out for the night, finding it to be ripe in water and food, and free of predatory creatures, another nugget of knowledge learnt by spying on helpful raccoons.

The next morning they return to shore and hide their boat, but are set upon by hairy blokes with sticks! They’re clearly in no mood to chat, and having blunt objects thrown at you makes diplomacy a bit difficult.

Socking them in the jaw doesn’t build bridges either.

Pinned down by projectiles, Turok and Andar are forced to fire back with arrows, wiping off enough of the poison to make their targets sipmly fall asleep. The stick throwers scarper, and the pair finally reunite with Lanok’s bunch to make the journey to their new home.

As luck would have it, there’s a stampede of buffalo in their way – more than enough to feed the tribe and make boats for everyone! Teaching the unruly lot how to row is another matter, but everyone gets across in one piece. The tribe take a liking to their new home, safe from towering predators for the time being…

… but Turok and Andar’s urge to explore can’t be ignored. The duo build themselves a canoe and follow the river, nearly colliding with a plesiosaur, riding through a cave…
I have to restrain myself from just posting entire pages every time Turok and Andar muck about in caves. Nothing important happens, but something about the limited use of colour and dense detail packed into such small panels really makes them pop in my eyes.

They follow the cave, winding up in yet another sunken valley! Unfortunately, the local wildlife aren’t terribly tasty, or terribly friendly either. The pair take a stab at fishing in the vast saltwater lake.

A human’s hollering draws them away from their meal – it’s Lanok, and he’s up expletive creek without a paddle! They can’t leave a buddy hanging, so they rush out in the canoe to rein him in.

The plesiosaur doesn’t take kindly to all the ruckus, and between it and the ichthyosaur their canoe and bull-boat get munched. The three of them swim to shore safely…

… only for a pteranodon to nearly make off with their lunch! The cheek of it! Still, they’re all in one peace, and they helped a friend in need. No explanation why Lanok took his chances trying to follow them, but he’s here now, and Turok and Andar will do everything to accommodate him.

This early in the series and already a change in the status quo? Don’t expect it to last; allies aren’t common in the Sunken Valley, and ones who pursue the heroes to remain by their side are even more uncommon, but it’s a nice sentiment.

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