Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #024: The Killer With Clean Hands

Friday, April 17, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #024: The Killer With Clean Hands

The H.A.R.D. Corps #10

Turok goes on a cameo-filled road trip.

Now in the United States, Turok had bid farewell to his newfound blood brother Aric to find his own calling, to see for himself what has changed to the old America he once knew.
Thus begins one of the most troublesome aspects of piecing together the reading order used for this feature: Turok’s roadtrip across the United States! While the cover dates and issue numbers are enough to guide you along, there are a couple of instances where Turok just pinballs across the country, necessitating some creative ordering for it to make sense. Don’t take it too seriously, though — I know American geography as much as I know what a brachiosaur’s favourite colour is. This is just another instance of me making life hard for myself, and trying to spice up unimportant side-stories.

Aric’s home is pegged as Ulster in upstate New York (not the Ulster in Northern Ireland, though we’d be happy to have you, Turok), and his next stop takes him nearly a thousand miles west to Indiana, in the pages of Shadowman #15! Who is Shadowman? Well–

Turok passes him by in a diner, gets accosted by a hitchhiker, and tells him to take a leap.

… yup. That’s Turok’s contribution to this story, and that’s his sole interaction with Shadowman! The dope in the hat is a Harbinger, a person with psionic powers, whose brief interaction with Turok results in a vision of Mothergod appearing before them. It’s totally irrelevant to the story, but it proves to Shadowman he’s not the only survivor of Unity.

Next stop: Colorado! In The H.A.R.D. Corps #9, Turok stops a random shoplifter, then gets called a slur by one of the series’ heroes.
That’s not just some bald-headed bozo — that’s Hammerhead, member of the titular H.A.R.D. Corps, the Harbinger Active Resistance Division! Its members are gifted with the same psionic powers as Harbingers, courtesy of their brain implants, and activated by radioing the operator at home base, all in a secret war against crime, terrorists, and the threat of Harbinger uprising.
In any case, Hammerhead’s out camping in the wilds, but his powers keep shorting out and the operator, Softcore, can’t figure it out. He takes to the skies and spies a cabin at the foot of a cliff, and its proximity seems to be the cause of it.

Before he can investigate, a bionisaur gets the slip on him! TO BE CONTINUED!!

To undercut the tension of this scene entirely:
What’s your take on the word? I’ve been typing it for six entries by now, and it still feels off to me. It’s a portmanteau of “bionic” and “dinosaur”, that much is obvious, but the “I” before “saur” throws me for a loop. I keep thinking it should be an “O” instead, since surely the “dinosaur” portion should take precedence? I’m no linguist, and I can’t imagine there’s clear-set rules for made-up nonsense like this. For the Valiant run it’s strictly “bionisaur”, but by the time Acclaim took the reins “bionosaur” became the standard.

Anyway, Turok happens to stop by without a shirt on and pop the bionisaur where it hurts. He and Hammerhead make peace, and wait ’til evening for the rest of his team to arrive before investigating further.

The cabin is actually an advanced technological compound, manned not only by bionisaurs, but a half-human, half-Spider Alien! This tech is the handiwork of his species, and he’s been recruited to beef up the bionisaurs’ brain implants… I presume. It’s not exactly elaborated upon, nor is this guy even given a name. He does share their goal of wanting humanity annihilated, so we’re not inclined to like him much.

The H.A.R.D. Corps have had prior experience with the Spider Aliens, and the chance to see their technology up-close is a real boon, even if the operators back at base can barely decipher their purpose. If they could take it home and learn from it themselves…!

No time for that, it’s run-and-gun time!

The group splinter into different hallways, with Turok and Gunslinger backing into what appears to be the compound’s engine room. Turok’s all geared up to blast it to pieces, but Gunslinger stops him — they need it running if they’re to take samples from this joint, and he’ll fight him if he has to!

He quickly changes his tune after a near-mauling experience.

With the engine totalled, the Corps’ powers are back online, allowing them to bail out before the site self-destructs. The bionisaurs are toast, but the scientist is unaccounted for, meaning — you guessed it! — the hunt continues. (it doesn’t, actually — the scientist is never seen or mentioned again) Turok departs, leaving his capable new allies to clean up the mess.

One of Valiant’s claims to fame was its deeply integrated universe, and this is our first whiff of it. Even if the title characters didn’t show their faces, the foundations and threats of their respective stories would get name-checked, establishing the world is larger than what’s seen in the pages of just one comic. Apparently the writing staff would have regular confabs to keep tabs on continuity, finding ways to incorporate their respective characters without interfering drastically with characterisation, chronology, and all that nerd stuff.

For titles with grander stakes — secret operatives, age-old peacekeepers, those gifted with great powers or premonitions — it probably made for better fare. For Turok, a comparatively simple man with far lower stakes and only a barebones three-parter to his name… it tends to feel a bit shoe-horned.
Try as he might to get acquainted with the modern world, he has no real connection to these people, and serves mostly as a tour guide for bionisaur behaviour. X-O Manowar forged a relationship with him from the get-go, making their crossovers a more engaging read — plus Aric’s story is so bonkers, catching a glimpse of what he’s up to is always a trip.

The H.A.R.D. Corps. #9 (Aug 1993)
I did say this feature would be exhaustive, and I’ll be tackling all the crossovers I feasibly can. That said, none of them contribute a lot to the overall story or Turok’s characterisation, so you’re fully entitled to skip them. If you were to read Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, sticking to the mainline numbered series is a perfectly way of going about it. Next week, we finally get to Dinosaur Hunter #4, and I can start earnestly gushing about why I enjoy the series. Stick with us!

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