Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #085: The Hidden Monster

Monday, November 16, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #085: The Hidden Monster

Turok: Son of Stone #46

Turok unwittingly frees a gory goliath that lives to kill… kills to live!

While venturing through an unexplored region of Lost Valley, Turok and Andar try to scale a rock wall and send the whole thing crumbling down. The locals are plenty displeased; that wall existed for generations until these two knuckleheads tore it down! They’ve no time for hostilities, instead rushing to repair it before… beforeKaralak appears.

What is Karalak? What isn’t Karalak!? The offspring of a raging storm and a shooting star! Five million feet tall and just as many arms, too! Its presence so terrifying, its glare so unnerving, all who see it are blinded forever! At least, so says Grinnok, the one man among their tribe who saw the beast before it was sealed away. The tribe have not seen Karalak in generations, but the fear never dies — not with the tales of their forefathers and its distant roars to forever remind them of its undying existence.

But they’re about to get a nasty house call! A big hairy arm ploughs through the rock wall, and not even Turok’s poison arrows do it any harm. There’s nothing they can do to stop it but wait for the inevitable.

A big hairy reptile breaks through, bigger than anything they’ve encountered in Lost Valley. Karalak, sadly, doesn’t quite live up to the tales: it can’t breathe fire, it can’t blind people at whim, and it can’t manhandle six dudes at once. It is plenty tough, though — it swats away their poison arrows like flies!

The pair take shelter in a cave until it loses sight of them, then try to slip past the now-destroyed rock wall, but the tribe don’t approve of the abandonment. “Kill Karalak or be killed!” Easier said than done; have you seen the size of this thing? It’s just killing things for the fun of it! And it’s spilling blood in an otherwise bloodless universe! If that ain’t unholy I don’t know what is!

Karalak’s been awfully silent since its release. The four pages of it breaking through the wall is a really tense and gripping sequence, the cries of “KARRALAKKK” arcing through the air as bubble text a fun use of comics as a medium.
It’s actually notable how little Son of Stone employs bubble letters as sound effects! They’re used extremely sparingly, often only for honkers roaring or pronounced sound effects from things you wouldn’t expect, like the killer plants last issue. Sadly, this is the only roar Karalak makes once it’s free. It would’ve been intriguing to focus on the roars following our heroes rather than the beast itself, but why waste a cool monster?

T & A first attempt to lure it off a cliff, but Karalak is too smart for that old trick, and marches back to terrorise the locals some more. Failing that, they resort to an old classic: tipping a big pile of rocks on it. The entire mountainside is practically dumped upon it, and once the beast is completely buried, they consider their mission complete.

Don’t count on it! Karalak returns to its favourite pastime of wrecking shit, and the tribe have just about had enough of it. They give Turok and Andar ’til sundown before they brain the pair themselves; they wouldn’t be in this mess if they hadn’t torn down their wall to begin with! To be fair, if two rock climbers were enough to dismantle it, what was stopping a big boy like Karalak from doing the same? But I digress. T & A set the dude on fire, because they’re quickly running out of fallbacks.

Its hairy hide lights up like nobody’s business, but the beast knows to throw itself in the lake to douse the flames. They’re all out of options and with the cavemen in no mood to help, the two are forced to simply book it; Andar comes a cropper, but is spared its wrath when Turok stabs the beast. Now he’s on his own! There’s no hope of killing the beast with his own hands… all he can hope is hubris will do it in instead. The chase takes them to a marsh of quicksand…

… where only one of them is fortunate enough to reach safe ground. Karalak sinks into the murky abyss, and it’s safe to say its generation-spanning reign of terror is at an end. At last, they can finally explore the the dead beast’s domain behind the rock wall… though I think we know what they’ll find, or more exactly, what they won’t find.

This issue sports perhaps one of the most iconic covers in Son of Stone. A six-armed, fire-breathing kaiju!? They’ve got my twelve cents already! Of course, this visage only appears in a fanciful tale told at the start, but it’s still the biggest, most threatening thing they’ve encountered yet — a towering monster with rare power over autonomy, able to grasp and claw at them as well as any ape. It’s also refreshing to see a monster not felled by their old staples of fire and poison; hell, it’s durable too, its wits and dexterity allowing it to brave any attack they throw at it!

Whether or not you can take the dang thing seriously is another matter. Karalak’s giant eyes are certainly… distinctive. It’s unlike any other monster in the series, almost like a Disney character with those big ol’ dinner plates. It’s uncanny and perhaps a bit silly, but I’d consider it creepy in its own right. How many creatures have eyeballs twice the size of your head, but not the proportions to match?

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