Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #006: The Giant Ape

Friday, February 14, 2020 at 9:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #006: The Giant Ape

Turok: Son of Stone #6

It’s an adventure comic from the 1950s, so you knew it was coming: enter the inexplicably giant gorilla.

Dinosaur attacks are plaguing Lanok’s tribe, and no matter how many times they’re lured off a cliff into Ichthyosaur-infested waters, there’s always another threat waiting to pounce. “Where can we find peace?”
I have to say, I’m kind of surprised the continuity has held out this long; Lanok’s tribe are sticking around through thick and thin! How many dumbass animal encounters have they suffered by now? To be fair, that’s probably why they’ve hung around this long – Turok’s not the type to see innocent people get harassed by wildlife and stand idly by. He’s the closest thing they have to neighbourhood watch.

With Turok and Andar’s help, the tribe pack up and begin searching for a new home, eventually relocating to a high, bushy mesa. It’s not just safer for their women and children, but also perfect for cultivating gardens and raising chickens for their eggs…

… until a giant stinkin’ gorilla wrecks their shit! The tribe flees its wrath, believing the five-story monstrosity to be the ruler of this domain. “We must curry its favour!” They gather all the food in the village and bundle it up as an offering to the ape… which kind of defeats the purpose of this new home, doncha think? There’s enough threats in the jungle already, Lanok, you don’t need to invent feudalism.

This works out exactly as you’d expect; the gorilla takes the offering, only to tear up the camp in search of more grub, forcing the tribe to high-tail it back down the mesa again… where they remember, oh, right, there’s dinosaurs down there. That’s why we left in the first place. Up we go again!

Turok and Andar, who’d been off hunting on their own this whole time, reunite with the tribe and offer to protect them from the ape. Andar wakes up early and gets nabbed by the big beast, but Turok comes to the rescue with a poison arrow.

The arrow isn’t enough to wound the beast, but it does makes it drowsy to enough to — fall off a cliff?! It’s okay, though, it’s just sleeping. It’s definitely not dead. Take our word for it.

The second story, The Stick Thrower, kicks off with Turok and Andar pulling a man to survive after being nearly stampeded by a mastodon. The pair’s weapons are smashed in the excitement, but their new ally, Acomac, has a stick! For throwing! If they’re to visit one of their weapons caches buried in the wilderness, they might need his help to get there.

… but they don’t want him knowing about its location, so they tell him “look over there!” and clear off, causing poor Acomac to freak out.

It’s rude, but needs must. The pool leads them to the forested canyon they led the mastodon last issue, and it gives them a warm welcome. They make bracelets from its fur before returning back with their arsenal.

Outside, Acomac’s getting hounded by a bigass bird, but one poison arrow is all it takes to save him from it. He’s thrilled not only by their weapons, but is even given a trophy of “his” kill – the bird’s feathers. He’s a big boy warrior now! Wait ’til his tribe hears about this!
It’s not exactly the most even-handed of relationships, but it’s nice for Turok and Andar to be on speaking terms with one of the stick throwers, who’ve hounded them since issue 3. Acomac’s blithering brutishness is a charming contrast to the well-meaning Lanok, though not that the relationship lasts lasts long, nor is peace ever truly made with the tribe. With this much continuity early on, seeing a side of the stick throwers that isn’t “unwanted menace” is appreciated.

Acomac begins leading them to his home, but the appearance of a mastodon sends him and his tribe packing. It catches the scent of Turok and Andar’s bracelet and suddenly changes its tune – it must recognise its young! It happily follows them — they’re in no position to tell it “no” —

— when it suddenly knocks them aside, out of harm’s way from attacking smilodons! A few arrows put them down, but they owe their lives to the mother beast’s quick thinking!

After another return visit to the wooded canyon, they escort the young mammoth back through the pool and under its mother’s wing again. All’s well that ends well!

This issue is the first to include full back-up features, which was Dell Comics’ bread and butter – practically every comic of theirs had short, extraneous strips loosely tying to the theme as page-filler.

The first is a text feature; the prose stories fill up a page or two of most Son of Stone strips and typically follow the same theme of unsuspecting youngsters from ‘primitive’ cultures managing to show their mettle against top-tier wildlife. In “Aknet Becomes A Man”, a scrawny primitive youngster using his wits to take down a bear and prove his worth to his tribe.

The second is “Lotor”, the story of a father raccoon surviving brave danger to find food for its young. It’s written in the same quasi-documentative style as Turok, and its protagonist boasts a similar kind of resourcefulness, sacrificing his first catch – a chunky bullfrog – to distract an allosaurus so he can raid the lizard’s nest. Perhaps an odd inclusion for a story otherwise about native Americans and uncanny wildlife, but if it’s got themes of craftiness befitting survival, then Dell probably assumed it was in good company.

As far as my limited palaeontology research goes, the earliest raccoons are dated to the Oligocene Epoch, which is… what, a good hundred million years since the Tithonian era, when allosauruses hung out? If it ain’t artistic license, then it seems our boy Lotor is actually a denizen of the Sunken Valley. Maybe he’ll get to meet the title characters some day? If he didn’t get gulped back in issue 2, that is. His kids could be orphans…!

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