Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #045: Scourge of the Swamps

Monday, June 29, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #045: Scourge of the Swamps

Turok: Son of Stone #26

Despite the tagline, there’s a sore lack of plants eating mans in this issue.

Our heroes have a close shave with a styracosaurus, and find it snared by living plants — so strong not even the huge beast can free itself! Or so it would seem…? When they pass the site the next day, they find no sign of the beast, but nearly get snared by the plants themselves.

It turns out the beast was taken by a nearby tribe, who can ‘unlock’ the trap-like plants with a secret powder, and like hell they’re giving up their cushy secret. Turok figures “fair enough” and goes about the rest of his day, but that’d make for a lousy story, so Andar sneaks out to snoop on them.

He doesn’t stick around long before getting ratted out, courtesy of a bone bouncing off his bonce. He manages to outrun his pursuers but gets himself snared by the plants, and Turok is lucky enough to find him. Turok demands the tribe share the location of the plant-releasing powder after saving them from a herd of iguanadon…

… but they didn’t warn him the red plants were guarded by a swarm of pteranodon! Or that pteranodons quack! Do their quacks echo?

Turok mashes the red plants into powder, and uses it to release Andar… but also an allosaurus that had stumbled into the same snare! With no time to draw their weapons, they simply lure it into a patch of plants that hadn’t been effected by the powder, where it gets trapped a second time and probably feels real stupid about itself.

That’s the end of one story… which means the two are immediately in danger again, getting clonked unconscious and having their “lightning sticks” stolen by a war-hungry tribe. While they don’t get far enough to scorch their enemies, their trail of embers does result in a nasty forest fire.

The jungle floor quickly becomes too hot to even tread on, forcing Turok, Andar and the locals into the swamp for safety. Our heroes quickly wreck their raft on the back of a man-eating turtle, and are forced to stab it before it takes their legs home as souvenirs.

The pursuers have them in their sights, but Turok rouses a slumbering plesiosaur to attack them, buying him and Andar time to gut the turtle carcass and slip away undetected. While the tribe are still holding a petty grudge over having their fingers burnt, they’ve at least bagged themselves a plesiosaur for dinner, so that quells the killing instinct a tad. More importantly, our heroes can warm themselves by the fire, secure in the knowledge it’s been kept out of harmful hands.

The stories remain firmly in the realm of fetch quests and territorial tribes, but having Alberto Giolitti on primary art duties makes a world of difference, with some absolutely cracker action-packed panels to enjoy. They’ve shown up a lot lately, but these two stories in particular employ a lot of non-consecutive panels, for lack of a better term — having tall panels span two rows and using arrows to guide the reader on the zigzagging order to read them in.
It’s perhaps a bit cheatsy; guiding the eye across a comic page is an art in itself, and adding literal road signs does seem a somewhat basic answer, but don’t forget that these are comics for children. Give them training wheels before you expect them to navigate nonlinear artscapes!

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