Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #043: The Winged Men

Monday, June 22, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #043: The Winged Men

Turok: Son of Stone #25


A river tribe are plagued by a ferocious beast that snatches men from behind the waterfall, leaving nary trace of itself or its unfortunate victims. Nobody’s in a rush to try slaying the beast, and everyone would rather make ludicrous assumptions of its powers so they feel justified in being wusses.

This is unfortunate, as Andar happens to be grabbing lunch behind that waterfall, and is seen carrying it out in a way that, behind the water, makes him look an awful lot like a monster. They spear the beast and watch it drift away, before a dazed Andar emerges — why, he must be a shapeshifter! It’s the only explanation!

Turok tracks down Andar and stumbles upon this ridiculous charade, but it’s more than just imaginations running wild — they intend to prove their suspicions by executing Andar, expecting to see him transform back into a lizard before their eyes! This isn’t just stupid, it’s bad news for our heroes — Turok can’t dare let his friend die over some reptiloid conspiracy.

But two can play at that game! Those rubes think they need to kill a man to see his scales? Pah! Turok’s got what it takes to turn Andar into a honker before their very eyes! all it takes is hiding a diminutive beast just out of sight…

… then lighting a smoky fire to blot everyone’s vision, and switching it with Andar in the confusion. The pair slip away, and when the smoke clears, the tribe fully believe their captive has shown his true colours, and slay it before it can torment them further. It’s an unfortunate end for the little creature, but it’s the only way to ensure Andar’s safety. The natives’ primitive beliefs may land our heroes in folly, but they now know can use as easily use them against them–

… oh, we’re not done? The tribe track down our heroes and agree to let Turok investigate the cave and root out the real monster behind the falls, but if he fails to find one, then they’ll know Andar’s the scaly monster after all. He ventures in…

… and ventures back out in a hurry! There is indeed a monster in there, but it’s too dark to see until it’s right on top of him, and the waterfall dashes any hope of bringing a torch inside. With the assistance of Andar and the tribe, they build a log dam to funnel the water away from the cave entrance…

… allowing Turok to put a quick end to the creature. While the tribe celebrate the death of the murderous beast, our heroes make a break for it before they find another flimsy excuse to put their lives in danger.

Not like that’s ever a certainty in the Lost Valley, as the next thing they encounter are murderous winged things! The victim’s sister happens to pop by, helpfully expositing that the winged men rule over them and demand slaves be delivered to “slave rock” — and they’ve just witnessed the price of failure.
Of all this, it’s the winged men part that Turok refuses to believe, but the two are spied by hunters and deemed good slave material, forcing them to leg it. Lady Exposition’s job is done, and she disappears from the rest of the story.

She is right, though: they find two slaves tied to a rock, and come morning they’re gone, taken to an island where they hunt and gather for seemingly ordinary overlords. There’s nothing to suggest they can fly, though Andar buys into the belief that they’re out there somewhere.

Turok’s not so convinced, but entertains the notion as they investigate an island downstream, home to a pteranodon roost. They find nothing to suggest the existence of winged or flying men… until a pair of cavemen come ashore and beat the honkers to death, turning their hides into wingsuits that let them glide from high platforms!

The pair return to the mainland and relay this information to the locals; they’re reluctant to believe their tormentors’ wings are mere costume and not naturally-grown appendages, but it’s all semantics — the winged men are jerks who boss them around anyway.
Turok proposes a two-pronged assault: while men on the ground storm the camp, prompting the winged men to dive, men in the trees will swing in and clobber them where confined spaces make their wingspan a detriment!

Getting their asses kicked rattles the winged men’s sense of superiority, and the slaves and attackers soon tear down the camp. When Turok sees injustice, he takes direct action!

The art keeps getting better and better, assumed to be by the talented Giovanni Ticci and Alberto Giolitti, but the stories are pushing at the limits of the page count. Both stories feature great scenarios and imagery, but are a little chaotic to follow, especially the latter.
It’s the first time the series has needed a throwaway character to establish the premise in as few panels as possible, yet it still takes time to explores the mystery of the slave camp, the island of pteranodons, the acknowledgment that no tribe is safe if they don’t act upon this… there’s a lot going on, and it’s a trifle overwhelming! I’d argue the imagery comes first; the story takes a backseat to whatever makes stirring, imaginative panels.

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