Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #132: Bred Up In Darkness

Friday, April 30, 2021 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #132: Bred Up In Darkness

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #45

Meeting old friends and new threats, not all of whom are mutually exclusive.

Turok and Andy have returned to the wilds of the Lost Land, able to enjoy a moment of comparative peace to their last unexpectedly eventful visits. Here, Andy is finally given a chance to resume his hunting practise — and for seemingly the first time, bags a kill with his bow. Here he comes face to face with the fallout that comes from taking a life, but the necessity of the natural cycle. “Animals are blessed that way. They accept death quickly, and get on with living.”

Now a dab hand at the grisly skinning and cooking process, they package up the best bits to take to their pals downstream, the lake people. Watching them from the shadowy shore is Seer — ya boi Merlin — who regards their passage with an ominous and bombastic foreboding. The machinations of Mothergod and Campaigner have not yet been laid to rest, it seems, and Turok may be key to the secrets of the rainbow tower… but for now, he’s simply watching.

Turok takes a kip, but not before insinuating that Andy should be familiar with all the skills he’s been taught; all he’s doing is refreshing his memory. It’s too heavy for Andy to digest, and he uses the time alone to reflect on his lousy lot in life — possibly the first time he’s looked at it from Turok’s side of things, however briefly. He’s not alone in his sorrow.
The front half of this issue is pleasantly mellow; slow, gentle, and a much needed chance for our heroes to unwind. Turok as a character and a series is too forward-focused to stop and think back on past grievances, but Andy’s long overdue a moment to think on all that he’s lost, and what there is to learn. Every honker they run into seems to have a family, a reminder of the one thing that’s seemingly out of reach to him.

A territorial plesiosaur assaults the pair, putting the kibosh on Andy’s quiet moment by totalling their raft and losing their supplies and heavier artillery. Their skin is saved by the arrival of some familiar faces: Captain Red, the time-displaced pirate and his cretaceous crew! Keth the picture maker, Andy’s great grandfather! They haven’t seen their friends from the Lost Land since they fought off Campaigner together, where they all faced losses: their homes, friends and family, all crushed beneath the madman’s reign. The tribe are serving well under Red’s leadership, having since rebuilt as a walled, stilted village.

Andy’s reunited with more of his Lost Land family, cousin Mari and nephew Ni-Zak, and even Red has found love again after his last heartbreak. Lara can dish out the banter and the beatdowns as good as Red can, apparently, the two rarely stopping with the back and forth… but there’s love between them that grounds them both. For all their scrapes and escapades, to be among family is seemingly what enriches them the most.

The reunion isn’t long lived; the alarm is raised as raiders show up at their door, arriving on the back of plesiosaurs. The queen of the Lizard People (just a clan, not actual anthropomorphic lizard people, boo) isn’t one to mince words or ambitions; they’re not here to loot and plunder or build some grand empire. They’re just here to smash the shit out of them. This happens on the reg, apparently.
Andy, however, is distracted by a different face in the crowd. At the queen’s side is a man he thought dead — his father, Lake!

It hasn’t been that long, but it’s so nice to have Tim Truman at the helm again, especially giving the characters a chance to breathe and enjoy some quality time. The little moments of introspection, spoken or unspoken, are refreshing, and even just the characters meeting up with old and new friends is nice. It never lasts, of course, but they’re due a reprieve. They never even got meeting up the last time they came, distracted by all that B-movie hullabaloo ten issues ago.
Captain Red, originally a kind of obnoxious bit-villain, really turns around into a worthy leader for the lake people, finding fresh hope with his new wife and child. I like this air of positivity for the Lost Land. Despite its savagery and turmoil, it can still be a positive space for people to grow and nature to nurture.

Andy’s more reciprocative to his training, and more in tune with the cycle of life and loss that’s vital to staying alive… but it doesn’t necessarily make him happy. Living up to his legacy can only fill so much of a gap in his heart, and this final story arc explores that. It might not provide the answers, but giving the kid a chance to express his grief is long overdue.

I’m saying it now: don’t put too much stock into Seer’s words. There’s only two issues left, and no time for any of his cryptic prophecies to come into play. The framing of this scene sure pegs him as a malevolent figure; he seemed to sit squarely on the fence back in the Campaigner arc, offering advice to both parties, but seemingly with his own goals in mind. Is he a baddie? Is this a threat?! Well… don’t worry about it.

Jackson Guice serves on pencils for this issue and the next; he’d bounced between Eternal Warrior and Ninjak most prominently among Valiant’s work, but he serves beautifully on Turok as well. The art is as lush and as detailed as the series’ best artists, and the Lost Land and its colourful denizens look a treat. The action looks incredible, but it paints an earnest picture of the realm as a true throwback to long-gone nature. An artist that can juggle tribe warfare and nature documentary B-roll is a good catch for this series.

The advertisements in these final issues feature a whole lotta video games! The Killer Instinct comic book and collectible card game, Iguana Entertainment’s College Slam, Kenji Eno’s D… and perhaps most notably, Rise of the Robots 2, which is advertised across a four-page mini-comic. Barring Killer Instinct, the common thread between them is that they were all published by Acclaim. Acclaim’s sure pushing the games lately! In fact, it’s feeling like there’s more video game ads than there are for comics or related avenue streams! Might be a clue towards their changing priorities if most readers weren’t already familiar with what’s coming next!

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