Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #115: Guardian of the Pit

Monday, March 1, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #115: Guardian of the Pit

Turok: Son of Stone #60

Turok makes his own entertainment.

Our heroes set their sights on a misty lake with a conspicuous nothing on the horizon — a sign that it may lead out of the Lost Valley’s interminable walls? There’s only one way to find out! Given the choice of this, or wading through a honker-filled swamp, taking their chances on the open sea seems that bit more appealing.

Not that this is any easier — their journey is rocked by a vicious storm that completely blindsides them, wrecking their raft near the coast of a small island. A toothy plesiosaur fancies its chances, but Turok and Andar are mercifully washed ashore before even more misfortune befalls them. Exhausted enough from three death-defying encounters in one afternoon, Turok conks out completely and falls into a storm-addled, adrenalin-stained dream…


Sadly born too early to secure the film rights to such a kickass visage (and thus, the spoils of victory go to Toho), Turok soon realises his vision was actually a spiffing source of inspiration, after seeing the island’s coast be used by crocodiles to lay their eggs. Why, by pushing a dirty great pile of rocks into the ocean, bonking the sea serpents on their noggins and rousing them to attack the nearest thing they see…

… they’ve got themselves a destroy-all-monsters melee on their hands! The pair use the ruckus to slink away on a log, paddling towards the great foggy unknown… and wouldn’t you know it, it’s another dead end. You can only say “nothing ventured, nothing gained” so many times before you wonder what you’re actually gaining from any of this, outside of a surplus of undue optimism.

Today’s text feature spotlights the mysterious Rongorongo tablets of Easter Island, a colourful series of artifacts I’d been oblivious to until now. The piece does little more than quickly sum up their observed history — that is to say, not much. By the time evangelists observed them in the 1800s, their relevance among the islanders had seemingly been forgotten, lost to those stricken by illness or colonists.
One takes for granted how vital oral history is to cultures like this, and one lost generation can be all it takes to break the chain. The rest of the piece theorises their origins and similarities to other cultures’ proto-writing, and theorises in the future, “by using analytical computers, linguists will learn to read the strange pictographs.”

These historical features usually present bare minimum of information, skewing the facts slightly to present a better narrative, but it’s always interesting to read up on them myself and see what’s been learnt in the years since. While there’s a long and turgid history of attempts at deciphering the text, there doesn’t appear to be any great consensus on their meaning… which sure as heck ain’t helped by the native islanders’ culture and oral history long since jeopardised by epidemics and outside influence and all that. Although the written texts of each tablet have been recorded and even digitised, I imagine any hope of knowing their meaning as texts or significance to their culture has long since passed. You can’t turn back the clock.

I mentioned it before, and it’s been in effect for a while, but the reader-submitted Monster Museum is back in action! I so love this cockamamie approach to monster design, children’s imaginations running wild to create the most inventive biological killing machines. This issue includes some real knockouts, among them the Giant Walking Eye, the Po-Go Champ Monster, and of course, the man we respect the most in this house, The Big Alvin. Pay your dues, y’all.

Local caveman Grafan witnesses Turok and Andar slay a honker with their poison arrows, and sees this as a perfect opportunity for grifting — all he needs is an excuse to lure them inside a cave. Conveniently enough, our heroes will spelunk any cave, no matter how dark and scary, if they’re told it’ll get them the heck out of here.

Surprise! There was a big stinkin’ dinosaur in that cave! The pair quickly beat feet back out again, and are soundly thumped by the tribe, thinking they’re trying to leg it; they wanted that honker killed, and they’re not accepting a job half done! T & A have every intention of exploring the cave, but not without a torch and their bows, which they lost in the scuffle. The tribe aren’t privy to the meaning of the word “torch”, so Turok plays with fire to produce one.
You’d think by now, knowing Turok and Andar not only have incredible beast-slaying projectiles and creative applications of fire, the tribe might want some of that for themselves. It’s a bit late in the day for the story to change tack, and frankly, all they want is the dino evicted. Fair play to them for staying in their lane.

What’s less considerate is them taking Andar as collateral; Grafan volunteers to be Turok’s torchbearer, and’ll thump him with it if he does any funny business. Once inside, we see why Turok was so eager to return — there’s a draft coming from inside the cave! The sign of an exit from beyond the valley walls? Too bad Grafan won’t stick around to find out; he hears one roar from the honker and immediately wusses out, leaving Turok stranded in the dark.

The cave suddenly lights up, and it turns out Grafan had the right idea — that draft was coming from the belly of a volcano! Turok reclaims the two bows as the honker appears, and mercifully slays it before it learns what being melting alive feels like… but it’s too late to make his escape. The cave-in has sealed him in…!

The tribe rightfully peace out, leaving Turok and poor tied-up Andar to fend for themselves; the young apprentice uses Grafan’s discarded torch to free himself before unearthing Turok, just barely escaping the wrath of the volcano. Once again, another excursion that bore no results for either our heroes or the natives they were supposedly helping, but sometimes that’s not the priority. Sometimes ticking “survive two volcanoes in one lifetime” off your bucket list is the only takeaway you need.

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