Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #009: Seeks The Trail to Freedom

Monday, February 24, 2020 at 9:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #009: Seeks The Trail to Freedom

Turok: Son of Stone #8

The role of the plesiosaur will actually be played by a sock puppet with a dental problem.

The sudden flood that saved the day last issue has had repercussions on the valley of the mesa – the river is now a raging torrent, and rising every day! Andar’s eager to take their raft and bail, but Turok reminds him of the mountain tribe they helped. They can’t abandon them. Besides, it might be safer up there now!

Don’t count on it. The mountain village is flooded, and the tribe argues over whether to stay or leave; if they don’t drown, the plesiosaur in the waters might get them. They rush Turok’s raft, giving him no choice but to ferry them to the mesa, the high tide making it appear like an island…

… but the mesa has its own tribe, and they’re not keen on sharing with a bunch of stragglers. If they climb up, they’re threatening war. A displaced village comes with a lot of mouths to feed!

Turok and Andar set about teaching them how to fish. Everything’s going swimmingly, when the plesiosaur attacks! It snags Andar’s fishing line and drags him in, forcing Turok to stab it a lesson.
To make a brief aside: The artwork in Son of Stone is a little on the inconsistent side, and rarely helped by the crude inking and printing process applied to comics of this era. You can typically rely on well-constructed human figures, and some of the animal renderings are particularly standout, like the beautifully shaded fish on the top-left above.

This is a needlessly roundabout way of saying the plesiosaur looks like crap. It’s like a lovechild of Kermit the frog, Cecil the seasick sea serpent, and a bag of nails.

The plesiosaur continues to snap at the fishing villagers, but a few poison arrows down its gob sends it spiralling into the depths. And apparently this was a load-bearing plesiosaur, as the water suddenly begins to drain away, supposedly the work of a blockage being cleared somewhere downstream. The cliff dwellers can return home once the water drains, and our heroes can sail away before anyone asks them for a lift.

Still exploring the valley, Turok, Andar and wolf pup Ski-Yu climb up to a higher plain, revealing a whole new land to explore! Rife with familiar pteranodons and dimetrodons, but also something they haven’t seen since they were back in their home turf: horses!

Andar takes a tumble and twists his ankle, prompting Turok to scavenge up a crutch for him. Nothing seems appropriate, until he stumbles upon the secluded glen where the horses call home. If he could rustle himself up a steed for Andar…!

He spooks them and sets up a tripwire, wrestling one to the ground and breaking it in to carrying passengers. In only four panels, Turok’s got himself a horse of his own: Wind Racer! Won’t Andar be chuffed!

Andar’s having a brown trousers moment, actually – a colossal dimetron has seen him, and he’s got “lunch” written all over him! He might not be able to move, but Ski-Yu is able to keep it occupied long enough for a volley of poison arrows to take it down.

Turok returns with his impromptu walking aid and takes Andar out for a test run. He’s uneasy at first, but soon gets more confident letting the beast carry him. Ski-Yu, the prototypical foundations of car-chasing already coursing through his veins, takes a lunge at Wind Racer and sends him running, with poor Andar holding on for dear life.

He soon stops, and the gang find a secluded canyon to rest in, its narrow entrance protecting them from potential threats. While Andar rests, Turok continues to explore up the canyon walls, climbing higher and higher…

… until it finally looks like he is free of the Sunken Valley! But… he’s alone. Turok’s not one to leave a friend behind. He can’t leave without his buddy Andar! He rushes back down the cliff to Andar to tell him the great news, and they set out to the trail…

… only for a bleeding great earthquake to tear it all down. Typical.

Despite the chaos, they still have their health, and Wind Racer has returned to their side, eager to be alongside its new masters. Ski-Yu? Ski-Yu’s booked it, dude. He’s outta here. He saw a bunch of rocks headed his way and thought, this is not my scene. Sad to see you go, Ski-Yu, but I respect your priorities.

I think we get the gist by now. Turok and Andar partake on two adventures every issue, often padded out by a back-up feature. They encounter wily wildlife, aid those in need, and occasionally find a path that might lead them out of the Sunken Valley… but not once, across its 130 issues and twenty eight year publishing history, do the pair actually make good their escape.

Nine entries in and I’m dropping mad spoilers, I know.

That is, they wouldn’t find their way out during Son of Stone‘s run. In 1992, comics publisher Valiant acquired the license to several Western Publishing properties, rebooting their superhero strips to serve as the bedrock of their own fictional universe, alongside new, original creations such as Shadowman, X-O Manowar, and more. Turok wouldn’t enter the scene until after the first year of comics, but when he did, he did it in a big way.

Next time, Dinosaur Hunter Diaries will begin covering the wild and wonderful, crazy and convoluted world of Valiant Comics! Mondays will still be dedicated to classic Son of Stone strips, while Fridays will now host the media of the future. It’ll make for some tonal whiplash, lemme tell ya.

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