Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #121: Honker Alive — or Andar Dead!

Monday, March 22, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #121: Honker Alive — or Andar Dead!

Turok: Son of Stone #63

The world’s out to make Andar look like a chump.

The first flat-shaded cover for the series, a rare sight! It’s a fun and straightforward composition, but the painted covers are such a big part of the appeal for Turok: Son of Stone, or Gold Key Comics as a whole. It makes it feel classy, y’know? Anything with a flat-shaded cover feels like it belongs on the shelf next to Richie Rich, and that’s the comic equivalent of being a class traitor.
The illustration is lifted from a panel on page 31, as we’ll see at the end; I can only assume the cover was a last-minute fix when there was no time to commission a painting, or deadlines were looming. Who knows!

Well, Andar’s never taking point ever again — he’s got himself and Turok up to their necks in a stinking, dingy swamp, and he’s eager to save face after claiming it was only a shallow. At least it’s not quicksand, right? He can’t even say “at least we’re not being attacked by honkers!” because that’s exactly what happens. Turok’s lucky to nail the plesiosaur with a poison arrow before it wounds Andar’s pride any further.

The moment they reach comparatively dry land, they’re immediately captured by a band of mossy-haired swamp folk — that wasn’t just any old honker they killed, that was their early warning system! It was their first line of defence against potential invaders… and indeed, the swamp is nearly besieged by attackers from outside, but Turok warns the swamp men in time for them to perform a successful counter-attack, driving them off.

The bog boys are grateful for the assist, but won’t let them off that easy — they had threatened to kill them, after all, to backpedal so easily would be the act of a chump. No, they’ll free them on only one condition: find a replacement honker! Andar’s taken as collateral until Turok returns, who’s left with the unenviable task of figuring out how to make this happen…! Conveniently enough, the swamp is coming down in plesiosaurs from the look of it, with another long-necked honker just down stream…

… and more importantly, a mama honker! He swipes a few of the eggs and paddles for his life, the beast in hot pursuit, when the swamp men snare in their nets. He then lures it to an embankment to safely place down its eggs, and the tribe are quick to placate it with meat, ensuring it’s got an incentive to make this its new domain.

The two are free to go, and Turok expresses he cares enough about Andar to go to these lengths to save him. Aw. Dumbass he may be, Turok’s adventures wouldn’t be the same without Andar by his side.

The Gold Key Comics Club is still doing its thing, accepting reader-submitted jokes and illustrations, and I especially love this page of wacky inventions. All these noodle-limped constructions with overwrought means of going about simple tasks… that’s the vision of the future, baby! The fanart for Magnus: Robot Fighter tickles me in particular. Slinging fists is just too much bother; simply shout insults at incoming robots, and watch them short-circuit themselves as they come stomping over muttering “why I oughta!”

I’ve nothing pithy to say about this iguana. I just think it looks cool.

I’ll spare myself from making a contrived “out of the frying pan and into the fire” analogy that somehow relates to our heroes going from a soupy swamp to a drought-stricken desert. There’s no water, the heat sucks, and they find an old man who’s been tied up and left to die! Old-timer Wodi was deemed too much of a burden for his tribe to support, and with no living family to vouch for him… well, here he is now.

He may be old, but he’s not useless — he knows a thing or two about finding water! Or so he says; he pierces a reed into the earth and begins slurping to no avail, leading Andar to think he’s off his rocker… but when they’re attacked by an alligator out of the blue, then surely there had to be some water for it to live way out here? The beast is put down before it does any harm, but Andar’s a mite jealous of it. “We are alive — to die of thirst!”

Wodi’s in no rush to give up, and points them to a mountain with a recessed peak; he’s confident they’ll find water up there. Andar’s still certain he’s just taking them for a ride; is this steep, treacherous mountain worth all the trouble? Given the alternative is finding a hole to die in, he begrudgingly comes along. Wodi, however, sees the shadow of death looming over him — actually a passing pteranodon — and fears his time in this world is drawing to a close…

… and lets go, falling to his death. Andar’s spirits hit rock bottom: well that’s just great! Their one source for water wasn’t just delusional, but suicidal too, stranding them a few hundred feet above the ground! He’s dead set on just climbing back down and making a grave for himself too, but Turok insists Wodi would not have led them here if he wasn’t convinced there’d be water… and Andar climbs up after him. Water or not, their chances of survival are better if they stay together. They didn’t get this far without teamwork!

And it’s a good thing, too, because they’d never have gotten this honker off of their heads if it weren’t for teamwork. How’d the honker even get up this high? It’s not important, they just know why it was up there — water! The high crater is a basin for collected rainwater, enough to keep them sated for a good while… and as luck would have it, in just a few days the rains fall again, making it safe to move on. They won’t forget Wodi’s commitment to them, and Andar certainly won’t forget the importance of working hard for what you want — even if it means three near-death experiences in one day.

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