Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #118: Church of the “Poison” Mind Part 1

Friday, March 12, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #118: Church of the “Poison” Mind Part 1

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #41

Turok can’t resist weepy mums.

Out of the Lost Land and back to his relative home in the Tanoan Flats reservation, Turok returns to more contemporary and less life-threatening problems: car trouble. Andy meets up with him, having just been dropped off by his pals from the Church of the Free Mind… and Turok doesn’t approve of his newfound community.

He’s got good reason to be upset: the Church’s leader, Reverend Vane, has been accused of several suspicious murders (last seen in issue #29!), including another one just recently. He doesn’t want Andy associating with scum like that. Andy snaps back at him, thinking he’s been caught up in the media blitz against the rev’: as far as the teen’s concerned, Vane’s on the level, reaching out to kids with values that mean something to them, a darn sight more appealing than the fuddy-duddies who are scared of change, and of the new generation that’s rightfully disillusioned with the world right now.

It’s nice to see Andy acknowledge his anti-authority roots again, something he’s had little chance to explore since being taken under Turok’s wing; while a cult of alleged free-thinkers is perhaps an odd choice, I can kind of see his reasoning for hanging with a crowd like that. He’s a wayward kid and lost all semblance of a meaningful family; to find kinship with anyone his age must be a treat. At least, I can only imagine; the story makes no other efforts to show why folks would fall under Vane’s influence, otherwise painting the main as a torturous, brain-washing loonie, which seems fair, honestly.

Andy may have stormed off without him, but the allegations surrounding the church still prey on Turok’s mind — so much so he seeks out Sheryl Marlowe, the mother of the woman who was recently murdered. Sheryl wasn’t alone in her grief, and united with other parents to do everything they could to bring Vane to justice… only for him to walk away on an acquittal. She fears the murder of her own daughter was a message — don’t get involved. For all of Turok’s bluster… all he can find in himself is sorrow for their plight, before walking away. For all their sweat and tears, the law of the land did not aid them, and more are going to be hurt.

This is a sore spot for him, as something just like it happened back when he and Andar were still in the Lost Land. A tribe led by unscrupulous lout Org were doing the whole unwilling human sacrifice thing, in a bid to quell the wrath of the gods or some cobblers. Andar rebelled at the idea, but Turok told him to stay out of it; if it was truly their belief, he had no place to question it.

Then he changed his mind when a babe he knew got killed, and proceeded to murder the shit out of them. Turok admits he was waylaid by the law of the land overriding his own moral code, but evidently some old-fashioned man-pain is enough to put him on the right track.

I’ve said it before in the last flashback adventure in issue #35, but the approach to Lost Land-era Turok under the Valiant banner simply never sits well with me. A part of it’s just plain ol’ bias and nostalgia, but I think it’s also the change in dynamic.
With the greater range of tribes and denizens within Lost Land, Turok and Andar are no longer ‘true’ outsiders. Their secret weapons of fire and poison aren’t enough to make them a commodity, nor are they the only intellects in a land of savages — there’s still a lot of backwards thinking going on, but everyone’s equally verbose, no matter how primitive their customs may seem.

Even the fact they acknowledge their adopted tribe paints their adventures in a different light: the Gold Key comics had multiple stories wherein Turok insists they don’t get cosy, for fear of losing the will to find their way home. By daring to make acquaintances (and in Andar’s case, a family), it shows they’re realistic about their prospects of ever making it home, and they might be here to stay.
It should be an interesting angle, arguably a healthy balance between their help-everybody mentality in the earliest strips and the later-years isolationism I get on my soapbox about so often… but every tale we get is just more bloodshed. Nobody’s paying $2.50 (or $3.50 Canadian) to read a prehistoric soap opera, but it struggles to define Turok as a character when he’s not shouting moral revelations and stabbing people.

Whatever the case, while they did put an end to that nonsense, the cost of his inaction still haunts Turok — which is why he launches a one-man assault on the Church of the Free Mind’s compound. Taking out the hired goons is no issue, it’s extracting his target that’s going to be tricky.
He’s after June Meddock, friend of the deceased, and armed with a photo of her graduation from her mother — something the girl ignores to bludgeon him over the head with a lamp. Look, showing up at the end of someone’s bed in a sleeveless jacket and a bow probably ain’t appropriate, y’know? She calls for help and he’s soon dog-piled in fellow cultists; Turok’s in no position to clobber a bunch of led-astray teens…

… and he’s eventually taken in and brought before the grand poohbah, Reverend Vane. Dealing with meddlers is something he’s accustomed to, but to simply kill them is no fun — he intends to break Turok’s spirit, to make his life hell… and maybe make him a loyal follower. Whatever happens, happens…!

Simon Furman’s back on writing duties for another two-parter, continuing the story thread he began back in his last story. It’s the same narration-heavy prose as he’s known for, with a very argumentative side to Turok and Andy/Andar’s relationship. His style of bombastic vernacular, paired with Mozart Cuoto’s lavish presentation, is a plenty distinct from the more low-key affair of Truman and Morales, albeit not quite my bag. You can expect next ish to be more of the same, only more explosive!

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