Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #061: The Ghostly Terror

Monday, August 24, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #061: The Ghostly Terror

Turok: Son of Stone #34

Andar becomes besties with a turtle.

Andar sees a ghostly white figure skulking about during the night, but no amount of searching yields results. Turok laughs it off as just a dream, but Andar’s certain it’s more than that — especially he gets bonked on the noggin as he’s drifting to sleep. There’s clearly some truth to what he said!

Whoever attacked him apparently had no thievery in mind; their camp wasn’t raided, Andar wasn’t kidnapped… so what gives? There’s no tracks to be found, but Andar nearly getting killed by a t-rex has its plus sides: the beast uncovered an hidden underground tunnel, lost in the long grass!

It’s been showing up a lot lately, but this issue features a lot of block-colouring, depicting everything but the focal figures in one flat shade, resulting in jungles that turn a shocking new hue every panel. Rex Maxon’s art seems to skimp on the backgrounds this issue, a far cry from his rich, detailed environments in the likes of issue #29.

That said, I’m personally a fan of the stylistic choice. It’s a quick and easy way of selling the dynamism of a scene, and speaks to classic comics’ penchant for clarity above all. With the advances in printing technology, comics enjoyed a sharp uptake in the quality of line art and colouring from the ’80s onward, and sometimes applied to reprints of older comics as a form of remastering.
While it’s interesting to see old art given new life this way, I’m of the belief that comics are a stylistic medium, and to simply colour objects ‘as it is’ is losing the point. Emphasise it! Stylise it! While getting lost in a comic’s art is half the fun, I want that to happen by the art’s own merits, not because the deluge of detail has made it lose all clarity. I’ll find an excuse to get on my soapbox about this one of these days.

The vast underground complex is full of albino honkers, all totally void of pigment. The beasts stampede at the sight of the intruders, and Turok vanishes from sight. Did he bite it…?

Nah, he was just captured by albino neanderthals, who descend on Andar as well. The big lugs don’t take kindly to strangers; for generations they’ve lived in this hidey hole, emerging only to pilfer newborn honkers to propagate their food supply. Andar was one of the few to see them that night, and had to be KO’d so their scout could return safely. They have a secret to protect, but surely this can be resolved peacefully, right?

I think announcing “kill the strangers!” puts the kibosh on that. Our heroes light themselves torches and hoof it out, blinding the cave-dwelling hunters with light until they make it out, and then burning the grass to prevent them from chasing after. Time to relocate!

In Young Earth, The Dinosaur’s Day presents a day in the life of a protoceratops, though clearly not a productive one: the little beast spends its whole day hiding from bigger beasties and nearly dying in sand traps, and doesn’t even get a bite to eat. Work on your daily planner, little dude.

While returning from a paddle on the lake, Andar realises he’s left his stuff on a rock that’s since gone walkies. That was no rock, that’s a turtle! He feeds the critter a few berries as thanks for not stealing his stuff, and later visits their camp that night; Andar’s found himself a new best friend.

The turtle’s more than just a pretty face! It alerts them of an incoming alligator during the night, giving them time to ready their weapons, and the next day serves as an invaluable steed when, while out on the lake, it and Andar come under attack by a sea honker, guiding him in for the killing blow. As far as Andar’s concerned, he couldn’t ask for a better pet!

The locals see it as a great big feast, though, and he earns their ire when he stops them long enough for the turtle to flee. Turok scares them off on his behalf, but knows this relationship can’t last; Andar’s love for his turtle is only going to land him in hot water. Even the turtle knows what’s up, and disappears after a day of digging in the sand, showing no sign of coming at Andar’s cries.

That’s because the turtle was a mama! She’s got a life of her own to live, and having laid a new brood she’s got no reason to stay. Andar couldn’t be more thrilled; his pet investment has gone and multiplied!

Seeing Andar try to make friends with whomever he meets is always endearing, and the more ungainly the animal, the better. I’m a sucker for these cutesy tales, because what kid wouldn’t want a giant benevolent reptile at their beck and call? Turok acting like a grouchy father is a hoot, joking about eating the turtle and itching for Andar to abandon it on his own. It’s a charming, silly little vignette; by no means a top 10, but a go-to for tales that aren’t entirely about life-threatening peril.

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