Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #011: Fight of the Fire Makers

Monday, March 2, 2020 at 9:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #011: Fight of the Fire Makers

Turok: Son of Stone #9

Turok helps a tribe get back to nature, so to speak.

Let’s learn some horse history! Once tiny little bastards, they grew and elongated to take advantage of vegetative plains, becoming swift runners and destroyers of fingers.
I’m almost certain Son of Stone had addressed the diminutive ancestors of horses at some point, be it in a side-feature or just an aside, but they rarely do them justice. This page takes pains to address that in place of hooves, they had three or four toes… but doesn’t actually show them, hiding them in shadowy grass. That, and the ungainly stature of the pre-horse is hard to tell apart from just a badly drawn horse. The pilohippus and other equine ancestors were probably closer to a tapir in terms of bodily structure, but try telling that to artists who’ve made a living off their much-lauded horse-drawing talents.

Speaking of horses, Turok’s is missing! Wind Racer has broken loose of his leash and nearly come a cropper to a dimetrodon. Andar saves him, but the honker thrashes in its death throes and wallops Andar in the leg, breaking his ankle.
This issue marks the debut of the most important feature of all: Andar’s headband! Until now he only had his feather to distinguish him from any other caveman with a bowl-cut, but the headband makes him instantly more identifiable. It’s not only stylish, but a charming contrast to Turok’s blue vest jacket.

Turok carries Andar and the three of them seek shelter in a cave, but the inhabitants take an instant dislike to their steed. Turok values Andar most of all (i have spent twenty minutes trying to find an equine-related riff on “bros before hoes” and the best i got was either “pal-o’-mines before equines” or “brorses before horses”)

… so Wind Racer is let go, to run free with no need for masters.
After all that hullabaloo last issue, huh? It would’ve been nice to see what the two could’ve achieved with a horse, and it’s a pity he didn’t get to show his worth. Ski-Yu pulled his weight plenty in his four stories, but all Wind Racer accomplished was give Andar a hard time. Maybe they should’ve taken the hint.

Not that this puts the cave dwellers’ at ease; they’re still frightened by the sight of their fire, and try to tamper with their flints during the night. Turok doesn’t bother with words and socks the lot of them, while Andar lights the fire again to keep them at bay. They sleep with one eye open, and come morning try to get an answer out of them. The cave folk simply don’t like fire, don’t like horses, and don’t like the two guests by proxy.

And to add another excuse on the pile, the tribe’s hunters get wrecked by a mammoth, a beast they claim to have never been injured by before. They believe the two are bad luck; Turok demands to stay until Andar heals, but the young apprentice hobbles out before they kick them out.

The two are forced to sleep rough; Andar trusts Turok to find them a good home, but he refuses to go exploring and leave his companion defenceless. And for good reason: they’re already set upon by another dimetrodon!

They later watch a group of painted warriors advance on the cave; the first wave get forced back by an onslaught of rocks, but there’s even more of them closing in. The dwellers will get overthrown if they don’t do something, so the pair make themselves some fire arrows…

… and set the reeds ablaze. This pushes them back, but also leaves Turok and Andar in a sticky situation. Carrying him on his back, the two have no choice but to run past the painted warriors and towards the cave! Having repelled the enemies, the cave dwellers have changed their tune and welcome the pair with open arms, acknowledging that the feared fire was what saved their bacon.

A new feature in this issue is Young Earth, a multi-page backup story in the vein of Lotor or other one-offs. It would be the longest running of all the backup strips, appearing in several dozen issues before the glut of advertisements ultimately pushed out the side-features.
This story is still very much like Lotor, though, spinning an adventurous narrative around a plesiosaur’s journey through an inland lake. Young Earth would later evolve into something vaguely more educational, less ‘character’ driven and more focused on the evolution or changes of various things, be it man-made tools, animal behaviour, or even the formation of landmasses. Not that it wouldn’t serve as an excuse for kickass animal battles, though.

While Turok and Andar have a roof over their heads and more agreeable neighbours, the dwellers still have some weird customs, like being strangely protective of their etchings: particularly the one showing dudes in trees. What’s that all about?

Turns out there’s dudes in trees. After a punch-happy struggle, T & A are captured and taken to their treetop domain, built like a bird’s nest. Through sign language, the tribe elder demands they be shown their secret of fire. Turok is in no position to exposit the virtues of fire safety — make fire or die!

After nearly burning the tree down, but the pair remain captured and are taken to the ground for a safer demonstration. It becomes clear the tree-men have war-like intentions in mind, but mercifully, their torches were too puny and burn out before they can smoke out their cave-dwelling neighbours, earning them bonks on the head for their trouble.

The two remain captive, but try sneaking out in the dead of night. This goes smoothly for all of two seconds, until they accidentally waken one of the guards. Back to cracking heads!
There’s a surprising amount of knuckle-bashing in this issue! But it also serves to show how much Turok values Andar, fending off the attackers so his young companion can escape first…

… and while out of sight, calls upon Andar’s knack for imitating dinosaur sounds to send them running. It’s likely something the youth came up with during hours of idle horsing around, but to see Turok recognise that talent and call upon it quite sweet. I can imagine that making an impression on young readers.

They left in such a rush they forgot their weapons, and try to retrieve them in the morning. There’s a sabertooth waiting at the foot of the tree, but they manage to take it down using only a tactically employed boulder.
This is enough to scare off the tree men, though they find a couple waiting for them as they retrieve their weapons… but they’re not here to fight. They’re impressed by Turok and the cave dwellers’ ability to hunt, and want to join them and learn their ways!

The cave dwellers aren’t keen, but Turok reminds them they once lived as they did, cowering in the trees — the etchings in their cave are proof of that. Together, especially with their new knowledge of fire, they can form a stronger bond. It’ll be a long time before they reach the advancements Turok and Andar knew in the land above, but any step is a good one.

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