Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #105: Monsters of the Legend

Monday, January 25, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #105: Monsters of the Legend

Turok: Son of Stone #55

More dangerous than a dinosaur, more terrifying than a pteranodon: hyperbole!

Turok and Andar find themselves captured once again by stranger-hating ne’er-do-wells, because it’s far easier to slaughter everyone who comes near rather than, I don’t know, put up a fence or something. A “no trespassers” sign at the very least. Before the two are done in, one of the tribe, Mulg, begs for their survival — people like them saved his life!

Mulg regales the story of how just the other day he journeyed deep into the cavern’s tunnels, narrowly surviving many dangerous animal encounters, before arriving in a lush, vast plains… one without honkers or monsters. In their stead: deer! Buffalo! Indigenous peoples!
He was saved from a stampeding herd by tall men with arrows — just like Turok! — but he belted it home rather than stick around to thank them. The crowd just laugh at the whole story; Mulg’s got a bit of reputation for his tall tales, but Turok and Andar are the only ones to not laugh at him — as far as they’re concerned, this guy might be their ticket home.

After saving the tribe from a fortuitous honker attack, the pair instantly earn their respect and are free to go and sate Mulg’s desire to show them he’s not full of shit. The wild storyteller leads them farther than the rest of his tribe dare to venture, claiming the path to be treacherous and full of dangers… and among his first encounters was a colossal man-handling hand!

Sadly, there’s no reason to question this line of thinking — is there an entire giant buried under the cavern floor? Was the hand an independent organism with no body to speak of? Did it just end at the wrist or was its arm a whole snake-like entity unto itself? Because that’d be messed up, I tell you what. It’s just a regular old dino, though. Let’s cut Mulg some slack; maybe it was dark? I can’t think of any other explanation why, while being throttled to death by a scaly cold-blooded lizard, your first thought would be, “this must be what a giant hand feels like.”

His next tale of daring survival: a fire-breathing honker! There’s a lot less extrapolation required for this one — the cavern opens up into a hall of fiery plumes, evidently from a deep lava well, which the dimetrodons take advantage of by blowing towards them.
Is… is it possible to blow without lips? Have these honkers, living exclusively in this fire-filled domain, evolved lips for the sole purpose of scorching would-be trespassers? If Andar were more scientifically minded this probably the kind of crap he’d be thinking to justify Mulg’s tales being somewhat on the money.

Of course, then he says he was next involved in a life-or-death struggle against spear-wielding pygmy warriors… when actually this is where all the kids come to play with their toy weapons. Turok and Andar discuss Mulg’s reputability; there’s some truth in what he says, but also a great hearty helping of horse hockey. There’s exaggeration, and then there’s pretending to be a cool guy by beating up children, which is a lot harder to forgive.

Matters aren’t helped when they realise despite the muddy path, there’s been no sign of footprints this entire time — if Mulg was here yesterday, he’d have left two sets of tracks! This argument kind of falls apart when you realise the tracks would also have warned them of the incoming honker that threatens to gore them. Turok’s more upset it’s just a triceratops, and not the glowing, eight-horned monstrosity Mulg described it as. He may call them all honkers but he’s still anal about designations, gosh darn it.

After a surprisingly drama-free chamber of fire, Mulg tells them of how he totally killed a plesiosaur by wedging a log down its gullet… and indeed, in the water’s depths is a suitably sized skeleton. It’s long past the chance to perform an autopsy, especially when the cave begins to quake! Mulg assures them they’re not far from their destination…

… but alas, he comes a cropper to the crumbling chasm, and there’s no hope of saving him. The honkers, finally realising maybe there’s better places to live than in flame-filled death traps like this, beat feet with Turok and Andar as riders. The cave tribe make their departure as well, fearing the whole mountain will come down on their heads… and indeed, when our heroes return once the tremors have ceased, there’s nothing left of the cave, sealed behind a bed of cooled magma.
Was Mulg really on the level? Were they truly a hair’s breadth away from freedom? They may never know… but at least they never actually saw a glimpse of home. That’d just be a right tease, that would.

The series has been employing in medias res openings to its stories a lot lately, and also seemingly relying on unreliable narrators to make for exciting cover images. It’s often felt like a cop-out, but this story actively makes it part of the story, and the very crux of whether or not Turok and Andar can trust their new companion. It’s a fun twist on convention, and delivers on what I like to see most out of Son of Stone: some bombass monsters and an ongoing mystery to solve. It’s a pity Mulg has to die, but so it goes, I suppose. Can’t have stakes without some unjust death!

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