Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #131: The Hunted

Monday, April 26, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #131: The Hunted

Turok: Son of Stone #68

Andar’s ego nearly kills them all.

Exploring another lush sub-domain of the Lost Valley, Turok and Andar witness a band of hunters legging it from an encroaching ankylosaurus… but when they shoot down the beast before it can gore them, they’re not at all chuffed about having their bacon saved. They claim they were actually hunting, and demonstrate by throwing themselves at the biggest, pointiest honker they can find…

… when their real trap springs — a pit trap! From here they can pick it off with ease, and THAT’S why they consider themselves the best hunters in the block. Andar’s quick to contest that, but Turok drags him away before they land themselves in hot water. They instead blunder straight into a snare trap, and now they look real dumb. The hunters hold them to their word and issue a challenge: if they can elude capture until the next sun-up without their bows and poison arrows, then they’ll know for sure who’s the better hunter.

Dangling from a tree ain’t the best position to be bargaining from, so the two are left no choice; they either die there or die if they fail the challenge. Their first decision is to peace out entirely, returning the way they came in… but a honker turf war is blocking the exit, and they’re ill-equipped to do anything about it. The hunters suspected this was their destination and are lying in wait…

… and immediately lose sight of them against following a rockslide. Our heroes return to the jungle and take to the trees, successfully eluding them, until a hypsilophodon intrudes and makes their presence very known. Once again, T & A elude capture by waiting ’til the hunters are nearly on them, then pulling the ol’ whack-’em-with-a-tree-branch trick. I’ve no idea if that’s actually an established trick or not, but it should be. Everyone should carry trees for the express purpose of springing a branch into somebody’s face. It can be the 21st century equivalent of the duelling glove. And it’s feng shui!

(left to right, top to bottom: issue #31, #33, #40, #41, #55, #68)
While I’m on bizarre tangents, let’s talk about reused art for a bit. I’ve made references to Son of Stone artist Alberto Giolitti plenty throughout this column. Perhaps the most iconic artist on the sites, and certainly one of the longest-running; it took approximately fourteen years before he got an in-comic credit (Gary Brown’s “Turok and the Sons of Stone” checklist claims issue #24 as Alberto’s first contribution), but just through sheer prolificacy, on this and several other big-name Gold Key comics, his work is hard to miss.
Because of the sheer quantity of his work, it’s no surprise there’s a few shortcuts taken. Alberto (and the presumably many unnamed staffers in his Rome-based studio) was known for his use of reference, including apparently creating sculpted models of the iconic vessels from Star Trek to aid his compositions in that series. He also used plenty of photo reference, resulting in the lifelike, textured illustrations that gave the series its depth…

(issue #66 page 10 / issue #68 page 4)
… and also a familiar stable of faces and poses you’d get real used to seeing. I was aware of this, but this was the first issue where I expressly mentioned it in my notes, particularly the shot of Turok and Andar firing their bows — because it was used almost identically only two issues ago! Close-ups of Turok and Andar’s faces become common sights throughout Giolitti’s run, Andar’s profile especially, the contours of his face looking particularly wobbly in some issues more than others.

Of course, dinosaur reference is reused plenty as well, on account of only having so many paleontological illustrations to source from. I mentioned back in issue #65 how ‘cartoony’ the dinosaurs in that issue looked, and almost nixed the diatribe when I checked the issues surrounding it, noticing how they were also similarly expressive… but cut to now, and they’re back to being beady-eyed beasts. It could’ve been experimentation, it could’ve been the reference being used, or it could’ve been the work of an uncredited understudy with a specific style. Who can say!

Anyway, back to the adventure at hand. Whatever lead our heroes gained is then lost by them stumbling into a pit trap — one which, moments later, bags a stegosaurus as well! The two narrowly avoid being squished, and hide beneath its bulk as two of the hunters arrive to skewer it with spears. They haven’t the manpower to haul it out, however, and leave to fetch the others. Now Turok and Andar have spears. Ho ho ho.

After spending a night in the river walking backwards to give them a hard time, they employ their spears on a couple of diminutive triceratops. When the hunters finally decipher their tracks and reach the honker feed grounds, there’s no sign of them at all. After revelling in their bamboozlement, the triceratops shed their skins. They tricked you, idiots! They were there all along!

In a rare show of fair play, the hunters readily admit defeat, and invite them back to the cave to reclaim their stolen weapons. Everyone’s quite amicable about it; the hunters are happy to declare them the winners, while Turok concedes that they are still the most cunning and clever people they’ve encountered in the Lost Valley. It’s not often his and Andar’s skills are put to the test like this! It would’ve meant more if it Andar were the one to eat humble pie, but oh well. Alas, despite all their running around they still found no sign of an exit from the valley, but with their poison arrows back they’ll be equipped to face whatever comes their way.

Admittedly a somewhat by-the-numbers affair, with little actual developments beyond the initial challenge, but the premise is a fun one. It’s still the familiar threat of “fuck off or die,” yet framing it as a clash of egos makes it feel somewhat convivial. Hiding for your life in a death pit with no way out is just a bit of fun, really; the lengths they’ll go to preserve their hunter’s pride.

Young Earth treats us to a glimpse at Spineless Sea Creatures, the funky invertebrae that populated the ocean however many millions of years ago, and probably still do, they’re just not feeling neighbourly. I admit I’m always a bit sus’ when people talk about sea life that’s got extinct or has been rediscovered. Partly because I’m shockingly ignorant of all things oceanic, but also, like, that’s a lotta three dimensional space to cover. Did you look under that one rock? Did you look up? That mighta been the only living trilobite you’d ever find in your life, you don’t know.


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