Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #020: The Coming of Turok

Friday, April 3, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #020: The Coming of Turok

X-O Manowar #14

Turok makes a friend.

In the Lost Lands, Turok stands atop a mountain of slaughtered bionisaurs, screaming vengeance for his people, and retribution against the head of the murderous beasts: Mon-Ark!
We saw this event alluded to in the opening of Dinosaur Hunter #1, as this scene is set in the final moments of Unity, seconds before the Lost Land is destroyed.

Unity #1 (Oct 1992)
To address that event once more, although Mothergod was defeated and sealed away, not even Solar had the power to stop her time reactor. His answer to this problem was instead to evacuate everyone in the Lost Land, casting energy fields to safely carry everyone through the inevitable wormhole, “their own consciousness leading them in their directions home.”
This posed a problem for the Lost Land’s natives, who hailed from no other time or place, but by that point the reactor had busted, so there was no time for clean solutions. Drop ’em anywhere, they’ll sort themselves out!

Despite Solar’s efforts, Unity cannot be stopped, and the Lost Land is torn asunder. Although Mon-Ark stands only at yard’s length, fate prevents Turok from his duty. He, his prey, and all else who remained in the Lost Land, are sent hurtling into a black hole, unknowingly protected by Solar’s energy.
I haven’t highlighted it in the stories so far, but “great spirit” entered Turok’s lexicon as of this issue, and remained in use throughout the first three issues of his solo series. Supposedly a common trait of various Indigenous cultures, Turok would often invoke the great spirit in times of tribulation, and in this instance believed he was finally joining it in death.

Turok: Son of Stone #12: Perilous Voyage (Jun~Aug 1958)
The term did see rare usage in the classic Turok: Son of Stone strips, notably from Andar in #10 as a plea for his arrow to strike (“Oh, Great Spirit of my people, give me courage to stand firm and help my brother-warrior!”), but like so many of the series’ loan-words, it was a flavour of the month before quickly fazing out. You could argue all this nonsense with visitors from the future has made Valiant’s Turok spiritual, if you want to give it that much credit.

Tim Truman, who became the series’ head writer at #4 and has a history of Native American comics under his belt, took particular umbrage with the term, quoted in Comics Scene #41. “That’s a white invention. To a Native American, when you say ‘great spirit,’ that’s like saying ‘ugh’ or ‘squaw.’ It’s a real yawner to them.” The term got dropped pretty fast once he took the reins, barring one or two that slipped through the cracks under different writers.

Turok awakes from what he thought was certain death, instead in a strange new world: Colombia, 1987. Those he killed are still at his feet… and the fresh tracks of those he didn’t. Undeterred, he continues the hunt for Mon-Ark.

Three months later in North America, a laboratory sub-division of Orb Industries have rustled up some dinosaurs, having picked them up in South America. Neat, huh? Aric, the head of the corporation, is none too happy about it. He demands the laboratory and its specimens destroyed, and is practically on the verge of trashing it himself.

But that’s not the end of it. He intends to track down the dinosaurs from where they were first found and sort them out himself. And to do that, he needs the gifts and abilities of his alien bio-organic exo-suit — the “Good Skin” — to make him into a warrior unmatchable: X-O Manowar!

X-O Manowar #1 (Feb 1992)
Who’s X-O Manowar? For once, he’s a Valiant-original character, though there’s still no shortage of history to unravel, even in only two years of publishing. Aric, a Visigoth from the year 408AD, was abducted by the Spider Aliens as a slave and potential meal on legs. He didn’t like this much, so he wrecked the place and stole their most powerful weapon, a biomechanical suit that attuned its shape to his body, and fled back to Earth.
Also, yes, they’re called the Spider Aliens. No, they are never given a better name.

X-O Manowar #2 (Mar 1992)
Upon arriving back, he discovered a millennium and change had passed since he was aboard their ship. In that time, the Spider Aliens had constructed a secret web of influence across Earth, with Orb Industries as one of its tent poles. Aric beat the snot out of them and took it for himself, now a man out of time with a grudge, an unstoppable exo-suit, and an influential global conglomerate at his disposal. Not bad for a dude who probably never bathed.
(I’ve since learned that Visigoths totally bathed, but I’m willing to believe Aric doesn’t, just so I don’t have to write a new joke)

X-O Manowar / Iron Man in Heavy Metal (Sep 1996)
The issues I’ve read have been entertaining enough, but unless you’re a comic nerd, you probably haven’t heard good things about X-O Manowar. To most folk, he’s compared unfavourably (but somewhat understandably) to Marvel’s Iron Man, both rich white dudes with multi-purpose metal suits and sprawling corporations at their fingertips. The two did star in a crossover video game and tie-in comic book, both of which are pretty diabolical. It can’t be said video games don’t make a legacy; there’s a reason Turok is lauded today, but the typical response to namedropping X-O Manowar is “who?”

Following the bio-signature of the dinosaurs, Aric finds himself in a trading post in Medellín… staring at a mounted head.

Turok introduces himself, but X-O is no stranger to him — tales were told of his war against Mothergod back in the Lost Lands! Turok’s deeply chuffed to be in his presence, but they get down to brass tacks: Turok’s bartered with folks using the remains of his kills, only they’re now being sold on the black market as genetics research material, potentially producing personal armies of dinosaurs for any warlord with the right coin.

Turok enters one of the trading camps alone, urging them to quit the business and walk away peacefully. Black marketeers don’t take kindly to being shoved around by their supplier, and figure giving him an acid bath is an appropriate way to negotiate.

Not on Aric’s watch. He storms the joint and lets rip with plasma cannons, and Turok follows suit. It’s fair game to kill indiscriminately when the targets are crumb-bums. And to make sure no one else gets the same idea, they set the camp ablaze. It’s the only way to be sure.

In the frenzy of battle, the two find a kindred spirit in one another. X-O may outclass Turok in firepower, but their ability and tenacity are on par. To have met another victim of the mercies of time, lost to an age that has left them by… it is gratifying to know he is no longer alone in this strange, cruel universe. Many dinosaurs have also been stranded courtesy of the Lost Land’s destruction, and to keep humanity safe, they must continue the hunt… together!

Released four months before his solo series, this is technically the debut of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter proper, complete with the logo on the cover and everything! Although it shows the very moment Turok entered present day (time-stamped and all), its chronology jumps ahead that it could be set any time around #2 or #3. I’ll address the chronology a bit more next week, but Hector’s trading camp already has bionisaur heads mounted on the wall, which weren’t shown until #3. Turok’s been a busy boy.
Forget the bionisaur heads — here comes X-O! We’ll see a fair few crossovers with him throughout the series’ run, and their friendship is perhaps the longest-lasting and most earnest of Turok’s acquaintances, which is sweet to see. It’s mostly machismo nonsense, dudes who bond over their fighting skills and the strife they otherwise keep bottled up, but it’s nice that Turok has a healthy outlet for this stuff that isn’t murdering apex predators.

Filed under Dinosaur Hunter Diaries Tagged , ,

Comments are closed.

« »