Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #050: Mon-Ark Lives

Friday, July 17, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #050: Mon-Ark Lives

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Yearbook #1

They Saved Mon-Ark’s Brain! Formerly known as Madmen of Omen before they added 20 minutes of dinosaur fights.

In Venezuela, Omen Enterprises (the parent company of the H.A.R.D. Corps) have just received an exciting acquisition, but not without the local Ongwa tribe doing their damndest to prevent it. And for good reason: this isn’t just any old bit of tech.

… this is a salvaged bionisaur intelligence implant — the same implant from Mon-Ark himself, the savage reptile who tormented Turok across two worlds! The Omen lab boys see themselves above authority, above god — why bother simply studying this stuff when they can immediately implant it into a human body? The body of an absolutely jacked weight lifter, no less? What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, actually.

Yes, the bionisaur Mon-Ark now lives on in a human body, finally equipped with the appendages required to shut down the lab’s operations, commandeer a jeep, and lay waste to the Ongwa who tried to prevent his resurrection. All that, and he’s still got his electronic communication with his fellow bionisaurs, allowing them to rise up under his command once more.

Turok learns of this bad omen via an assembly of Indigenous tribes, where the ceremonial pipe invokes a message calling him out.

And if that wasn’t enough, he encounters a snake on his travels. “Snake is cousin to the dinosaur. Some evil reaches for me but I do not yet know its name.”
The snake serves only as a bad omen, but this appears to be Turok’s first bad experience with the slithery serpents. In later appearances, they’d be regarded as anywhere from simply unkosher to practically the natural enemy of all Kiowa: a strange bit of lore I can find no real world basis for! This strange relationship only occurs under Mike Baron’s pen, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s just him inserting his personal biases.
That isn’t the only message; the Ongwa tribe have sent one of their own, Aztael, to track down their ‘cousin’ Turok in America, the only one who can stop this menace…

… but they sent him without even a shirt on his back. A gang of inner city stereotypes rough him up, as comic book caricatures are wont to do.

It’s a good thing Turok happens by to bust out some bike-fu. He and Aztael take off; they don’t speak the same tongue, but after another huff of the ceremonial pipe, Turok finally gets the full message:

(and it only took us 16 pages to establish the premise!)

Turok meets up with Regan Howell to relay what he’s learned; it sounds ridiculous, but they know the Venezuela base is offline, which is enough for the National Security Council to lend their muscle in the form of Captain Crowthers and two helicopters stuffed with personnel. They definitely think something’s up, but they’d sooner blame it on Communists than dinosaurs.

But then they get blown to shit by missiles so their opinion doesn’t count.

A pair of bionisaurs armed with gatling guns let ‘er rip, and Turok, Regan, and Crothers all take cover in the native temple; Crothers continues to be lousy help, more interested in contacting HQ than lending a hand…

… but this is a personal matter. Mon-Ark’s calling out Turok for a one-on-fight fight… and Turok insists they do it au natural. If Mon-Ark’s a man, he can fight on man’s terms without the need for firearms.

I love how he he looks to his steed for a second opinion first, though.

The two take to the top of the temple and hash it out with machetes, but just because he’s a human doesn’t make Mon-Ark any less of an underhanded worm. Low blows are his speciality! He throws sand in Turok’s eyes and lays into him while he’s blinded…

… but Turok’s got a friend who’ll fight dirty on his behalf. Regan caps Mon-Ark in the leg, allowing Turok to grind him into the dirt. He’s gung-ho to kill this dude already — killing him once wasn’t enough, apparently…!

— but Captain Crowthers wallops him and jets off with Mon-Ark’s beaten body, having been a covert H.A.R.D. Corps agent the entire time! There’s nothing they can do that won’t dunk them in hot water; Omen’s a powerful organisation, they’d have their heads if their agent or their acquisition were damaged. All Turok can do is watch his hated nemesis, this abomination of science, get carted off to a destination unknown.

In the meantime, their job here is done. The bionisaurs have peaced out without Mon-Ark to lead them, and Aztael returns to express how his tribe have been decimated fighting against Omen and Mon-Ark. Regan is happy to call her university to offer support, any chance to study the native temples… but in Turok’s eyes, outsiders have done enough damage already to their culture. It’s better he stay behind to aid them and put food on the table.

Besides, why not kill two birds with one stone…?

An unexpectedly fun little romp! You could argue a lot of the story is padding to fill the double-length page count, but the art by penciller Dave Cockrum, inker Gonzalo Mayo and colourist Wanderlei Silva really shines, an excuse to enjoy some prolonged melee combat and silly asides.
Although drawn out, Turok’s slow reveal of whose return menaces him is fun, an excuse for him to hang out with fellow natives and even the Mayans down south. Its 40-page count gives the story and action room to breathe without feeling like it’s skimping on anything, even if there’s not actually much to say or show about a dinosaur-turned-human beating the snot out of people.

The comic has no cover date, but according to advertisements it hit shelves in May 1995, meaning it came out in the middle of the last story arc. This fits; the dinosaur reserve established in #9 is referenced by Regan, and Turok learns of the powwow from “a Comanche I met in California,” which could easily have happened during his roadtrip in #11. His business trip to Venezuela is hard to factor in, but it probably serves as a good break point between the last arc and the next one.

Unfortunately, despite Mon-Ark’s fate being left in the air… he’s never seen again after this story! Captain Crowthers? His first and only appearance also! This total nobody just hijacks the series’ reptilian villain and buggers off completely! To be fair, while I’m a sucker for any premise that can be summed up as “they saved [fill-in-the-blank]’s brain!”, I’m happy ditching Mon-Ark now that he’s a nude muscleman. If he hasn’t got scales, I want nothing to do with him.

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