Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #123: The Lost City

Monday, March 29, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #123: The Lost City

Turok: Son of Stone #64

A haunting look inside Lost Valley’s ghost towns.

An ankylosaurus blocks the road ahead of Turok and Andar, and no matter how many arrows they volley at it, how many stones they bludgeon it with, the honker refuses to move! It’s only when they get closer to the immobile beast do they realise they’ve been partaking in some Wile E. Coyote bullshit. It’s a statue! Rather than feel like total nincompoops, this is a cause for investigation and intrigue — who would build a lifelike honker statue in some podunk valley like this, and for what reason?

Why, to guard the narrow entrance to the wide valley within, wherein lies an expansive white city! The city is unlike any civilisation they’ve seen in the Lost Valley, or even back on the plains; free-standing buildings of white stone, archways and lined streets… and not a soul to be found.

The homes have long since been abandoned, pteranodons having taken roosted in the empty abodes, but there’s no sign of a living human. There’s all the evidence of it being a once thriving, prosperous land, full of comfort, luxuries and furnishings. Andar’s quite content to stay and make camp; what more could they ask from a place like this?

How’s this for a change of pace! Turok and Andar are no stranger to cryptic constructions, as seen in The Stone Builders, but it’s particularly nifty seeing them interact with such ‘modern’ looking dwellings. Paved streets, stairs and cathedrals, a far cry from the bog standard caves and hills. Art is hardly new to them, though the abundance of decoration — vases, goblets, curtains, suits of armour — must seem foreign to their more essentialist way of living, at least within the confines of Lost Valley.

The story offers no answers regarding what culture the denizens may have come from, and as much as I dig art and architecture, I’m crap at identifying either of them. The building style is vaguely Mayan…? As in, so vaguely that the only resemblance I’m finding is their shared love of coving. It’s definitely the kind of close-knit, high-tiered architecture one might associate with Mexico City or the medina quarters of Morocco.
But the suit of armour on page 9 depicts a classic Corinthian helmet, and the jug is patterned with illustrations of combat, a classical Greek showpiece. I mean, most cultures made pottery depicting the sickest battles they partook in, but the shields and shortswords make it particularly Greek. Prove me wrong, though!

Turok’s adamant they continue their search, however — to get distracted by easy living would only impede their quest for an exit from Lost Valley. They split up to find any clue to where the inhabitants vanished, when Andar finds himself pursued by a roaming triceratops; it bangs a wall and causes a secret passage to open, but seals itself up again the moment he steps inside. We’d have to wait until refrigerators were invented to warn kids about stepping inside suspicious doors!

Turok, meanwhile, finds a mural of a honker clawing at a den of spikes and a person trapped inside… and mud on the walls that suggests the city was once partially-submerged. He’s attacked by a sea honker in a needless mid-issue cliffhanger, before finding the triceratops and Andar’s abandoned bow; he’s on the right path! Andar, meanwhile, explores the dark passage into a maze of treacherous thorns, where the winding paths all seem to lead in circles. What’s worse, he’s hunted and pinned down by an ankylosaurus — a real one this time!

Mercifully, the real deal are far more susceptible to arrows than stone facsimiles, courtesy of Turok’s opportune appearance. The two may be reunited, but their search continues to bear no fruit — they’re well and truly lost, and there’s still no exit from the thorn maze! The two take a kip for lack of anything meaningful to do… and awake to the sound of rushing water — a flood! They’re left no option but to grab a log and ride it out, making gosh darn sure they don’t get skewered on the thorns along the way.

Finally finding themselves on safe land outside the city. They’re no closer to an exit, or even what happened to the city dwellers; Turok can only assume they once used the maze as a sport for torturing captives, and the city abandoned — or decimated — by the rainwaters flowing through the narrow valley and right through the town. Whatever the case, if such advanced people could get in to Lost Valley, surely they can find a way out.

Although a tad meandering, with bizarre honker encounters shoved in to try and add some ham-fisted excitement into the mix, this is an interesting story! Well, it’s barely even a story, but the exotic new location is a fun place to thrust our heroes into. The secret passages, the mysterious customs, the relics of a once prosperous civilisation… it adds a surprising depth to the Lost Valley that we had no reason to expect from it.
To know this land isn’t just a sinkhole for ancient creatures and evolutionary throwbacks, but a place where rich cultures carried on their legacy after finding themselves inside its walls, is a fascination addition to the lore. Of course, we’re well acquainted with the Valiant comics expounding upon the range of critters and cultures in the Lost Land, but there’d be at least one more story of unexpected civilisations within the Lost Valley’s borders. We won’t be seeing that for a little while, though.

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