Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #111: The Things From The Sky

Monday, February 15, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments (1)

Turok: Son of Stone #58

Despite appearances, Turok has not jumped the shark.

It’s a lovely evening in the Lost Valley, and Turok and Andar are chased from their camp by a horrible honker. Light fills the night sky, however, and the beast is reduced to dust; if it were able, it’d be quoting Marvin the Martian right about now (“Being disintegrated makes me very angry! Very angry indeed!”). Not even lightning is strong enough to straight-up evaporate things, surely…? The next day the pair witness human and honker alike fleeing from an unknown threat, said to be “things from the sky”. Turok, in a rare moment of not leaving well enough alone, goes in the opposite direction to see what could be so dang unearthly.

Well, things not of this earth, surely! A flying saucer full of noodle-limbed robots touches down on the plains and the out-of-towners come in peace, itching for a chance to chat with anyone who doesn’t run away at the sight of them.

They’re rudely interrupted by a plesiosaur munching on one of the tin can trio, but T & A are quick to put it down with their poison arrows before retrieving their waterlogged guest; the aliens recharge their guns and disintegrate the beast for good measure, proving themselves to be the uncanny force that saved them the other night.
They’d taken a shine to our heroes before they even met — when they last visited Earth it was still a primordial wasteland of warring elements… and now look at it! Lands of every ecosystem, creatures of every size, and mankind in varying states of advancement… they’re eager to see what biomes and what peoples may reign supreme, and with Turok and Andar so advanced compared to their peers, they know what horse to bet on.

While they’re busy laying waste to another murderous herd of pteranodon (being the shiniest objects in Lost Valley comes with its own hazards), a brachiosaur happens by and crushes their spacecraft. They’re forced to vaporise the big lug before it does any more damage; were it a different time they could’ve just swapped insurance details, but such is life.
Their UFO isn’t a write-off just yet, nothing the very scientific method of banging it into shape with rocks can’t solve… but they’re intruded upon yet again by the cavemen who fled from them earlier. They don’t take a liking to their new neighbours, and kindly suggest they sling their hook by means of hurling bloody great spears at them.

Turok and Andar aren’t keen on killing dudes at the best of times, and while the aliens don’t state their moral stance on the matter, frying the honker drained the last of the battery on their ray guns. Their guns still emit enough of a lightshow to scare them off, and also to ignite the bed of kindling our heroes gathered to scare off an incoming stampede. Did I mention the stampede? There’s a lot going on. Who knew alien activity would draw crowds like this?

At long stinking last, the group are able to bash their ship into shape, stepping inside to recharge their tools and take a damage report. control panels, viewports, buttons and levers, padded seats… it’s unlike anything Turok and Andar have ever witnessed before! The pair haven’t even rode horses before (ignoring that one time they rode a horse), and here they are introduced to a whole new world of extraterrestrial automobiles. They prep for a test flight to ensure it’s stable enough to take them home, and invite one of them along to see the sights. Andar is given the honours, and becomes the first man in America to take to the skies.

They pass a variety of familiar sights — the valley’s great lakes, its towering pteranodon roosts… and over the valley wall itself! Andar is reacquainted with familiar sights of his homeland for the first time in countless moons, and even passes over his tribe’s camp! Beyond the realm of dreams, it’s the closest he’s gotten to home in an age!
As simple as it looks, this is a really endearing page. by no means the first time our heroes have escaped the Lost Valley’s boundaries, nor will it be the last time… but it’s the first time they’ve got to see their old home again, and all the familiar faces associated with it. To know life has continued in their absence is reassuring — time hasn’t stopped, their old life hasn’t vanished without them, there’s still a home worth returning to. This isn’t a Valiant Comics situation, where they can’t go home but they can’t stay here. It’d be too much heartbreak for them to find their old way of life gone.

The test flight is a success, and they should be more than capable of taking everyone to their rightful homes; our two heroes to the familiar plains, and their benefactors back to outer space. What they don’t account for is pteranodons swarming the ship, clogging the intakes and otherwise taking umbrage with having to share their airspace. Try as they might, they’re not equipped to dozens of prehistoric fowl jamming themselves in the engines, and the ship plummets from the air and skims across the lake, crashing to a halt and ejecting Turok and Andar from the open hatch. They make it out in one piece — there’s still hope for the aliens, right?

Oh. OH.

When they come to, there’s nary a trace of their alien encounter. The ship is burnt to a cinder, with no evidence but their memories of the fateful day ever occurring. Was it a dream? Or was it all too real, a cruel twist of fate taking their lives and denying them a sure-fire ticket out of the accursed valley? Under the beating rain, there are no answers to be found.

It needs to be said: FREAKIN’ ALIENS????? We’ve experienced two years of the Valiant comics at this point, where Turok has gone to the future, interacted with robots, cyborgs, spider aliens and all manner of kooky affair, and we’re not far from the Acclaim universe which really doubles down on the wild and wacky world he inhabits… but to see classic Son of Stone address this fare seems awfully out of character. I was dreading this issue to feel like a jumping the shark moment…!

Despite my fears, it’s actually an entertaining change of pace. Turok and Andar are so starved for comrades at this point, it’s nice to see someone actively approached them for communication, if just to state why they’re here. While the aliens’ “ray blast” guns are a bit overpowered, seeing their properties amp up Turok’s tricks is a nice little combo.
With their ship out of commission, the two are put on equal terms without either side appearing more capable than the other; this isn’t a contest, they just wanna get home! It would’ve been nice to see them share something more involved than fending off wave after wave of inexplicable incoming threats, but to see them hang out at all is a treat.

Of course, it’s also yet another tease at a potential escape. They fly right over their homeland! Andar is even able to point out individuals from his tribe! And yet, even these super-advanced space aliens can’t contend with the prehistoric equivalent of pigeons in the turbines.
The aliens seem like good blokes; their talk of watching what lifeforms will dominate the earth is perhaps a tad spooky, as is their cavalier attitude to blasting things to smithereens, but they seem on the level… which is all the more upsetting when they get done in by pure happenstance. It doesn’t matter how advanced you are, how many lightyears you’re capable of travelling, you don’t survive an explosive car crash.

This story stands out as the one and only example of aliens in the classic Son of Stone stories; as far-out as the tales may be at times, they never again encounter life from other worlds. To do it again would perhaps be pushing it, yet it helps make this issue stand out because of it. It’s so out-of-left-field, unlike anything we’ve seen before, with an ending that allows you to dismiss it as a 20-page dream sequence if you’re so inclined.
It’s perhaps a bit divisive when you’d sooner see Turok interact with dinosaurs and slightly more credible threads (… do i have to acknowledge that some consider aliens more credible than dinosaurs), but it’s a personal favourite of mine. Partly for the novelty factor, but despite its interstellar stylings, it harkens home to the Turok ethos of aiding and befriending those in need, putting your shared skills to good use.

While this story came too early to be reprinted south of the border in Turok: El Guerrero De Piedra, it had more than its fair share of brand new alien stories! Next to wildlife and funky cave tribes, bastards from space in dinky little UFOs were probably among their most recurring encounters, ranging from the docile to the malevolent, the hominid to the unidentifiable. Turok and Andar even acknowledged just how many times they’d saved not just Lost Valley, but the earth itself from potential doom.
It’ll be a little ways away before the Mexican stories start lining up with the blog’s chronology, but you can be gosh darned sure I’m going to peep some highlights into its most gonzo stories, the space stories especially.

Going back to the issue at hand, the unnamed dinosaur spotlight gives the Iguanodon a chance to shine, calling particular attention to its giraffe-life tongue, its vegetarian lifestyle, and its capacity to shank a bitch. While the tongue thing has since been discredited, nobody’s found a better fit for its wicked pointy thumb; it wasn’t venomous, it wasn’t a horn… it’s just a big gnarly thumb.
Obviously the chance to ask an iguanodon what’s up with that has long since passed, so we’re left to assume it really did stab dudes when given the chance, or it was the only dinosaur equipped to give a thumbs-up. As sweet as that image is, what a lonely existence it must have been, knowing no others could return the gesture.

The first in a series of text features about strange archaeological finds, we have the Diquis Spheres of Costa Rica. They’re big freakin’ stones! Darn near perfectly round and big enough to squash a dude! Attributed to the indigenous Diquis of Costa Rica who are long since ancient history, there’s not a great deal known about them, and the text does little more than gush out loud about how uncanny they are. It presents plenty of reasons why they’re so strange, but doesn’t give us any harebrained theories about them.
They’ve since become common attractions across the island, installed both in museums and in government buildings, so it’s good to know the findings are still with us, though it’d be nice if the culture attached to it weren’t such a mystery. C’est la vie.

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