Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #126: The Hunted: Part II

Friday, April 9, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #126: The Hunted: Part II

Turok: The Hunted #2

How many times do we have to teach you this lesson, old man?

When we last saw them, white trader Angus McBride had entered the camp of Turok’s people, demanding to be shown the whereabouts of the legendary white buffalo. He claims it’s all he wants and will be on his way once he’s procured it, but that’s a sentiment the Kiowa-Apache, among the other indigenous, have found to rarely be the case. Still, Turok agrees to take him to his destination, and assures his people that once they’re done, his white friend will see the error of his ways.

After a day’s journey without buffalo (I WONDER WHO’S TO BLAME FOR THAT EH ANGUS), they set up camp and Angus feels the need to exposit a bit about himself. He’s a son of royalty, wouldn’t you know! A veritable world traveller, but he’s never felt like he’s truly lived. And since there isn’t a good war going on to make a man out of himself in, killing a buffalo and mounting it on the wall will just have to suffice, as a reminder of when men were men and faced life head-on… while sipping brandy in his state manor, of course.

Come dawn, Turok rouses Angus from his sleep — they’ve found what he’s looking for! Oh, not the white buffalo or anything. He’s found a pissed off mama bear who gives the hunter a long overdue sock in the kisser. While the hunter rants and raves about getting his own back, Turok nicks his horses and peaces out, leaving him to contend with the looming winter on his lonesome.

What follows is a fun yarn of Angus left to forage in the wilderness for himself, with what few tools weren’t stripped from him as Turok stalks him, pestering him like his own guardian angel… or whatever’s the opposite of that. Every small bit of comfort he has, Turok takes away — dousing his campfire in water, stealing his gun while he sleeps, and watching the so-called mighty whitey learn to cope without his bag of tricks.

At last, Angus is finally able to accomplish something with his bare hands: catch a fish. But that sense of accomplishment is short-lived, when Turok lectures him on the cycle of life — all of life’s relations and connections to one another is what led to this small victory, and he should thank them before he thanks god.

At last, he leads him to the white buffalo, and explains it represents the unity of life and earth. By all means, Angus should have his trophy already — the experience of having faced life head-on, surviving the winter with nothing but the clothes on his back. Turok leaves him, and we do not see Angus’ response.

Back in the present, Turok has taken Regan and Andy to the Lost Land for yet another attempt to make the boy a man. Andy’s in an unexpectedly gun-happy mood, and Regan Turok them for this attitude; in her eyes, the Lost Land represents a planet before colonialism, extinction, before humans tipped the scales of nature. To treat it as a playground for trigger-happy teens is simply unjust. Turok assures her: Andy will know better by the time he’s done.

This was a fun little tale! So much of the flashback stories feel like an excuse for murderous barbarian nonsense, a low-rent Conan. Yet this feels like it ties into classic Turok’s occasional affinity for nature and balance, to see the way of thinking of every party, even if he disagrees with it. It’s almost an amusing twist on his “helper of the day” stories from Gold Key, having a no-good tagalong who this time he makes a project out of being a nuisance to. It’s very satisfying.

It’s also an apt way of showing the teachings of respecting the land. Can’t vouch for accuracy, but it gets the point across a lot better than them simply preaching it in their camping ground. You cannot have one thing without the balance of others supporting and nurturing it, and to remove one cog is to potentially undo or disrupt the whole shebang.

This issue runs a little shorter than the norm, clocking in at 18 pages rather than the usual twenty-odd; the remaining pages are devoted to a pin-up gallery, featuring original pieces by Jeff Zapata and Aaron Lopresti. The story was originally written to be Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Yearbook 2, scheduled for May 1995 (slotted in before the Lost Land arc in #24), but instead saw release ten months later as a 2-issue mini-series.

To make baseless assumptions, it’s possible this was a last-minute assignment after the Shaman’s Tears crossover fell through. The White Buffalo was also present in its plot summaries, so it’s possible the basic thrust of the story was maintained despite being transplanted back in time.
Why sell it as a mini-series, though? I wonder if Valiant weren’t in a position to sell one-offs as easily after the hullabaloo following Birthquake. Whatever the case, this way they can sell one story for the price of two! That’s a dollar more they’re making than just as a $4 yearbook! Gotta squeeze that profit anywhere you can, baby! Unless the cost of printing two separate books offsets any hope of additional profit, in which case: whoops!

Valiant Voice Vol 1 Issue 4 (September 1993)
For anyone who dares to keep tabs on Turok’s pre-Lost Land history throughout the Valiant Comics… well, they don’t make life easy for you, so congrats on having a tough hobby. Between this, Mike Grell’s upcoming tales, and the occasional mid-story flashback, there’s a lot of events to piece together in what seems like a short amount of time. Valiant’s official newsletter, Valiant Voice, would peg the year Turok and Andar entered the Lost Land as 1854, so this seemingly takes place the same year… and yet issue #16 would tell you Turok was still a lone wolf of the plains fighting Snakehandler in the year 1860. I don’t know what to tell you, man.

Valiant superfan Joshua Eves made one heck of a project for himself by creating the Valiant Comics Timeline, from the dawn of time across various epochs, and even giving a rough outline of events in the land-out-of-time itself, the Lost Land! This necessitates a lot of squeezing and fudging numbers, natch, but it’s a darn sight better than working it out for yourself.

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