Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #079: The Hidden Enemy

Monday, October 26, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #079: The Hidden Enemy

Turok: Son of Stone #43

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” is a code Turok only follows begrudgingly, apparently.

During a restful and uneventful night, some unknown blaggard ups and steals Turok and Andar’s bows, leaving them defenceless in the face of a killer honker come morning! Turok’s left only with the unenviable task of slaying an allosaurus with only his knife…

… until an unknown sniper does the killing for him — with one of their poison arrows! The unseen thief may have done them a good turn, but they can’t dare rest until they reclaim their weapons; giving the locals that kind of power is grounds for turmoil. The two turn to the lake tribe for answers; they’ve experienced the same phenomena of thefts and deaths in the night, but have never seen the culprit in action. And no, they couldn’t have done it; they’re too skittish to go hunting beyond the shore.

“There’s one place we haven’t looked… Underground!” Turok’s suspicions are immediately confirmed by the sound of human activity beneath the soil; all they need is a way of getting under– WATCH OUT ANDAR

The two find a beetle-free entrance inside a gutted tree trunk, and witness a tribe of underground dwellers digging a tunnel with rakes and pickaxes. Their plan? To drain the water from the lake and descend upon the unwitting lake tribe!

Their bow-stealing thief appears having bagged himself a rare catch: a rabbit! This furry little stranger must have come from one of the caves, meaning there might be a way out of Lost Valley down one of them! T & A cook up a fire and smoke out the mole men, demanding one of their bows back so they can open negotiations on equal terms.

The thief points them to where he found the rabbit, but warns them those caves are where the water from the lake will drain; in a few moments, that tunnel will be flooded forever. If they get that second bow back, maybe they’d be willing to hold it off long enough for the two to leave. With great reluctance, the pair hand over their only weapons to these war-makers — it’s something they’ve been trying to prevent this whole time, but if it means a way home…!

If only the mole men had a moral bone in their bodies. The sneaky saps flood the tunnel anyway and nearly drown the pair, narrowing escaping its raging flow via a hole in the earth. Well, that was a wash. While they’re here, maybe they should actually address the lake tribe situation?

With the water drained, the lake tribe are left trapped in their own soggy bog, easy pickings for the advancing mole men and their barrage of stones and arrows! Turok and Andar set the shore’s dry reeds ablaze, sending the mole men into retreat…

… and allowing them to duff up their bow-stealers. The tribe give chase, but are done in by hubris when their combined weight breaks the weakened ground beneath them. This whole adventure might have been a bust, having lost another potential escape, but they can rest assured their weapons are back in the rightful hands.

Perhaps not the greatest showing for Turok and Andar’s moral code; all that talk of keeping their weapons out of war-like locals? That’s me extrapolating. The pair spare no thought for what the weapons will do to inter-dweller relationships, and barter only to get they want, be it information, their property, or the way out.
In the past Turok has done his best to dissuade warfare between tribes, but here, once he learns of the tunnel leading out of the valley, he doesn’t give the lake tribe’s welfare a second thought… not until they’re stranded again, when he figures, well, this’ll help us both out.

A return to the double-length story! We last saw one in issue #39’s Mortal Combat, and what was once an outlier is now the new standard format. Adventures run now twice as long and largely uninterrupted, bar the side features now being squeezed between the two parts. Speaking of side features…

While Young Earth proposes the earliest domestication of the wolf by humble cavemen, we also get a single-page spotlight on A Tree-Climbing Dinosaur, the hypsilophodon! These beasts go unnamed in Son of Stone, but make semi-frequent appearances when our heroes dare rest on their laurels while hanging out on branches, the go-to tree-dwelling beast after all mammals have since been ruled out.
Their funky digits are apparently what spurred palaeontologists to believe in their climbing ability, presuming their homes to be in trees or on craggy terrain too treacherous for less light-footed beasts… until the 1970s, when folks realised their hands were crap for climbing and they probably just hung out on the ground like the rest of us plebs. You had your time in the sun, hypsilophodon…!

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