Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #025: Secret of the Giants

Monday, April 20, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #025: Secret of the Giants

Turok: Son of Stone #16

Turok fights above his weight class.

While explaining the Lost Valley plains, our heroes uncover a curious mound of stones. It clearly looks like a burial mound, but whoever it was for has got to be at least ten feet tall. As curious as they are, to tear apart a sacred grave just to look at a dead body is bad manners, no matter how rad the corpse may be.

Conveniently enough, a murderous triceratops happens upon them and is taken down with a single poison arrow, its thrashing body knocking apart the burial mound before it dies. Well, that’s one way of passing the buck.

They take a peek inside, and indeed, there’s a humongous human body beneath the stones, buried with a suitably humongous club! After re-covering the grave, they venture further into the unexplored land and ponder if it could be inhabited by a race of giants; they pass a group of ordinary-sized folk and ask them this, but are met with denial and thinly-veiled fear.
You’ll notice this is the first usage of “how” as a greeting — that old chestnut. Though it is a valid word from many Native American languages, it’s hardly the equivalent of our “hello”. Son of Stone leaned heavily on its use of archaic, if not outright erroneous ‘Indian speak’, but would slowly ween it out over the course of its run… for the most part.

They’re invited to stay at the tribes’ camp, but Andar continues to insist on asking them about the giants, refusing to accept their rebuffs. Turok’s in no mood to entertain the notion, but when Andar finds an enormous human footprint in their watering hole, he knows something is afoot: if the locals deny all knowledge of the giants, then perhaps it’s wise to follow suit.

Andar’s not taking no for an answer, especially when he finds a stonking huge spear embedded in a tree — there’s no way an ordinary man could carry that with ease! By the time he returns with Turok to show it, the spear is gone — about to be thrown away one of the natives! Caught in the act, the perpetrator spills the beans:

Two giants had entered their domain some time ago and begun terrorising them, eating their food, beating them up for laughs, and generally treated them like pests. While the tribe hid, one of the giants stayed behind and blocked access to their food and water; with no other option, they rose up and beat him to death, burying him far from their camp. Since then they’ve lived in fear of the other giant returning for retribution. Andar passes this on to Turok, and it’s settled — they leave this place as soon as possible.

But the giant returns! The titanic Rurl had found the grave of his partner Garr, and demands answers: who killed Garr? The locals point fingers at Turok and Andar. The double-crossing finks.

Not that this saves their skin in any way — Rurl only ties up the two to be killed later. Right now, he wants to slaughter the cavemen for doing nothing to save Garr from his untimely murder. Our heroes quickly free themselves and rush back to aid the hapless tribe. And to do that, they need a trap…

Turok threatens to wallop Rurl with a bloody great log, but the giant snatches it and swings it himself… oblivious it’s the only thing holding back a great big boulder.

He may have been a right bastard, but the tribe give Rurl a burial and rejoice in having slain their tormentors. The people are safe… for now!
After having become fast chums with the locals in recent issues, it’s notable that the giants are legitimate threats and not just friends in waiting — Turok fights them with lethal force! Giants are rarely a decent sort in most media, and Rurl and Garr were certainly unlikeable twonks; it’s just strange to see the comic revel in the death of a human being (of sorts). Is this what a comic from 1959 would consider edgy, or am I just getting my knickers in a twist?

While setting up their next camp, Andar spies a ceratosaurus and sneaks off without Turok to hunt it down, just to prove he can. His first arrow bounces harmlessly off it scales, and he breaks his bowstring prepping his second shot, prompting the beast to turn his way…

… and Andar would sooner take his chances with the cliff. He jumps down and takes a nasty tumble, only realising how bad he is when Turok happens upon him later — he’s too weak to be moved, and he’s lucky he didn’t bleed to death after a fall like that. Turok knows where he can find a remedy for him, and builds a small shelter to keep him comfortable until he returns.

Turok’s reputation precedes him, as he’s stopped before he can even reach his destination — a tribe demand he kill the ceratosaurus that’s been haunting this area, and refuse to let him past until he’s done the deed. His sob story of poor sick Andar does nothing to change their minds. He quickly finds the beast, but this arrow bounces off just as Andar’s had, and it beats a retreat so hasty Turok can’t even catch up, even after a whole day’s pursuit.

The tribe continue to bother Turok, refusing him the precious herb until he does their dirty work. In the meantime, Andar’s condition is worsening; he’s alternately lost in delusions or putting on a brave face, even trying to hunt the beast himself to save Turok the trouble, but the boy can’t go on like this.

The Grand Comics Database credits Bob Fujitani with the artwork in this issue, though I’m not familiar with enough of his work to identify his style. The site claims he’d already pencilled several issues already, but these two stories in particular really bring out his qualities: the human drama in Turok and Andar’s expressions, and the dinosaurs’ ghastly features. The first story in particular has some lovely cross-hatched close-ups.
Andar’s plight feels particularly heart-wrenching — he’s been depicted a variety of ways so far, but this feels like the first one to truly show him as a scared little boy in over his head.

At long last, Turok catches up with the beast as it feasts on a hapless stegosaurus, but it soon runs off again, the sight of another harmless arrow is enough to scare it off. It was in such a hurry it left its uneaten lunch. That gives Turok an idea…

Skinning a stegosaurus and wearing its hide! The ceratosaurus clearly likes munching on them — it’s just a matter of lasting out long enough against the other stegosaurus, who don’t like the look of this misshapen newcomer.

The ceratosaur returns, and gets close enough for Turok to finally land a shot where it hurts. With the beast dead, the tribe finally hand over the precious herb, though it can’t be said laughter isn’t the best medicine — Turok’s ludicrous dinosaur getup gets a rise out of the boy.

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