Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #044: Last of the Kiowa

Friday, June 26, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #044: Last of the Kiowa

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #10

Turok goes commando.

After his unpleasant foray in West Virginia, Turok goes west to find solace in the mountains of Utah, to rekindle a connection with nature and the world around him. He’s not alone up there, however — he’s there as a guest of Uncle Bile.

Bile’s a funky ol’ guy who runs a dude ranch, and he’s glad to have some folks from his walk of life, not just rich white tourists. He also runs a wildlife rehabilitation program, with his biggest star being its white buffalo, Monty; he fills Turok in as he offers him a lift…

… but when they return to the barn, the place has been scorched. The staff, the tourists, Monty and the animals… they’ve all been slaughtered.

Bile’s nephew Lark lies dying, but manages to tell them who the perpetrator was: Chun Lee Fat. A black marketer who specialises in poaching rare animals to produce trophies or virility drugs. Before he passes, Lark warns them of an ambush — Lee Fat’s men have a bionisaur with them.

Bile and Turok gear up and take to the arroyo to spy on mercenaries lying in wait. They try to take one alive to get some answers, but the trigger-happy mercs foil Turok’s first attempt, gunning down their unconscious comrades.

Bile approaches the pueblo ruins the mercs are using as base and sneaks inside, duping one of them to follow inside and fall into an ancient pit trap. The other guy takes no chances and lets a grenade do the scouting for him, urging Turok to cross the river and lend a hand– but as he ziplines across, he has a run-in with a cougar!

The two exchange good vibes before going their separate ways; there’s no need for bloodshed.
It’s a quiet little scene that breaks up the action, but I like it. Animals that crossed Turok’s path in Son of Stone had a tendency to die in short order, be it for his own needs, or simply befalling an even hungrier threat. Media so often depicts encounters with predators and huge animals as a big to-do, an excuse for a dramatic chase or a clutch battle…
… but more often than not, an animal’s just doing its thing. Why cancel its 4 O’Clock just to scrap with a human that’ll be more hassle than it’s worth? Kudos to Turok and this rando cougar for knowing where the priorities lie.

Anyway, there was no need to rush — Bile can handle himself, and he’s got them a captive! The merc puts on a tough show, but Turok won’t stop ’til they know what they’re up against.

Meanwhile, we see how Chun Lee Fat conducts his business — no animal is too endangered or too sacred if people are paying him funny money for drugs just to have their masts raised. In addition to boner pills, he also supplies ladies to make his clients’ evenings complete… who then case the joint for riches and valuables.

Oh, and he kidnaps business rivals and feeds them to his pet bionisaur. That’s probably the more despicable part of his operation. Besides the killing dudes and animals for profit part. There’s a lot to not like about him.

Rags Morales returns on art duties, and brings some terrific action and expressions with him; his penchant for kooky characters, both well-meaning and unsavoury, really shines through. He juggles the dry plains of Utah and the bustling urban empire of Chun Lee Fat to great effect, and it’ll be fun to see that explored further next ish!

This arc is written by Mike Baron, perhaps best known for his original creation The Badger, his work on The Flash and Atari Force in the ’80s, and regrettably not lauded enough for writing Godzilla vs. Barkley. He only did a few issues of Turok, mostly one-offs, but he had a fun handle on the character, throwing him into unlikely scenarios and playing up his Indigenous customs, including some that no other writers would adopt.

Turok’s Kiowa war chants only occur under Baron’s pen, though they perhaps seem out of place when Turok is otherwise all-business in battle. Bile confuses Turok’s mention of Mothergod with Wakan Tanka, a sacred spirit from native cultures (rendered as Wankantanka in the text), which Turok also stops to express thanks to after avoiding a scuffle with the cougar. They’re small gestures perhaps used out of context, but it’s a nice way of keeping his customs alive in this crazy modern world.

It’s not Baron’s first time writing an Indigenous character, his short-lived DC Comics mini-series The Butcher starring a Lakota ex-soldier out to avenge his parents, executed by pitiless land grabbers. It’s more in tune with Baron’s usual brand of gritty brutality and “ooer” politics, and it’s not my cup of tea. His Turok work has been the only stuff that’s gelled with me, though that might be my dinosaur bias talking.

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