Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #064: Jurassic Politics

Friday, September 4, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #064: Jurassic Politics

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #17

Turok butts heads with the CIA.

The unlucky schmucks in this issue’s cold open are a group of CIA field agents on a stakeout, who open the door to a snake-tongued delivery man. Ten guesses what intelligence-enhanced breed of reptile it belongs to.

Meanwhile, Turok is spending his time on the Tanoan Flats Reservation boning up on his reading comprehension. What could have become an insight into feminism from the perspective of a time-displaced Kiowa-Apache is instead an excuse for him to boast of his sweet adaptability skills.

Andy shows up, an unwilling escort for a CIA agent who’s got a proposition for Turok: who’s in the mood to do what the comic’s subtitle proposes?
The font in that bottom-left panel matches nothing else in the issue, and is almost assuredly not the work of Adam Niedzwiecki, this issue’s letterer. The same computer font shows in the top two panels of the last image as well. Were Turok’s original remarks on feminism and manifest destiny too spicy for public consumption? If he knew he were being censored, he’d probably have a few words to say about that too.

Turok is to a CIA base and shown around by the local agent, Thomas Higdon, where he’s introduced to the tactical team he’ll be cooperating with: from left to right, pilot Brody Blair, demolitions expert Malichi Waterman, commander Frank Croghan, and recon specialist David German. Don’t get too chummy with them.
Higdon starts dishing the dirt: in the past week there have been over a dozen incidents of bionisaur attacks, specifically against covert operations in the USA from foreign agencies. The CIA will happily tolerate a little spy-play, but when these covert ops are targeted with uncanny swiftness and precision, that’s when retaliatory measures start getting raised. And nobody on American soil fancies that, especially when their enemies believe their country is manufacturing them through Orb Industries.

Turok’s been brought aboard as their bionisaur expert and lays out their varying degrees of nastiness: their decentralised nervous system, their pack-hunting instincts, their aptitude for tricks, decoys and mind-games… and their capacity to rend you limb from limb. The tactical agents aren’t impressed; with their blinged-out boomsticks, they figure those things won’t live long enough to strategise.
Turok says to Higdon, “you dragged me into this because I’ve hunted these creatures for over eight years.” The next issue dates this mission at September 19th 1994, and I can only assume this date comes from his first appearance in X-O Manowar #14, which dated the events as taking place in 1987, and likely adding another year to cover the events of Unity. I spoke in that entry how questionable that time-skip was, but it’s not like it matters. It’s likely that issue was one of the writer’s references, as this is the first time Orb Industries’ dinosaur lab has been brought up since then; we’ve no reason to believe it’s still in operation, but obviously word got out and potential enemies are in a tizzy about it.

This three-issue arc is written by Tony Bedard, a writer perhaps best known for his various runs at DC Comics, including R.E.B.E.L.S. and Blue Beetle, and even lending his writing talents to video games such as Saint’s Row 4 and Agents of Mayhem. At this point his career was only beginning, having hopped around between Valiant’s headlining series; these would be his only contributions to Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, though we’ll probably see his name again in a few hundred entries. Don’t forget!
Regarding the art this issue, Pat Boyette inks for Howard Simpson’s pencils, and paired with Bill Dunn’s colours it really pops. The upcoming action is great, but I’m particularly smitten with this briefing scene; the apathy and exhaustion on everyone’s faces is captured so well.

The team are flown out to the site of the most recent incident, believed to be a den for Russian spies… but all they find inside are the eviscerated bodies of the alleged ex-spies. The bodies are uneaten, clearly not the work of ravenous hunters… so what does it mean?

German’s already bought it, and Malichi snuffs it next. One of the bionisaurs sets it sights on Blair and the helicopter, but just because he’s the pilot doesn’t mean he’s a pushover.

Turok was foolishly brought on the mission without any weapons, but he knows all about waste not, want not, and makes use of the fallen men’s guns. The creature doesn’t just die, it detonates.
Oh, and that’s Croghan getting munched in the background there. I told you not to get chummy.

Turok and Blair take down the last of the beasts, and he has to save the pilot before it cooks him with its self-destruct. None of this lines up with Turok’s prior encounters with the bionisaurs; never before have they cared about leaving evidence, or discussed strategies out in the open. Someone or something must be controlling the beasts from behind the scenes. He doesn’t know for sure, but he intends to find out!

It’s always entertaining seeing the culture clash of Turok’s old ways and his new life, and this is a fun way of provoking it. Conspiracies! Political intrigue! Cannon fodder! We get a charmingly lopsided outlook on how his hunting and tracking skills compare to the big guns and bigger egos of modern soldiers. There’s been rumblings of bionisaurs being tinkered with, from their voluntary alignment with the Spider Aliens back in The H.A.R.D. Corps #10, or the aforementioned try-outs in Orb Industries, so it’s nifty to see the angle finally explored some more.

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