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60 years of Turok

Posted: May 17th, 2015, 12:28 am
by scotland
A long bloggy post after reading a lot of Turok. Turok creates the question "Is it better to be remembered but as a caricature of what you were, or to be true and forgotten?"

1997's Turok is a N64 game I enjoy. Actually, its "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" by Acclaim, which also published a comic book of the same name. Its this Turok that gamers know, and probably the only Turok anyone knows. In the game, you play as Turok, fighting in the Lost Land to stop the big bad, the Campaigner. To me, anyway, the game reminded me of Doom with Dinosaurs (with lots of jumping, yes, I know.

Yet the 'real' Turok is quite different, but without the Acclaim N64 game, it would be as well known as the Two Gun Kid.

The 'real' Turok goes all the way back to 1954! It began with Dell comics. Its actually a great example of comics of the time, when superheroes and fallen out of favor, and comics went through their version of both the 83 Video Game Crash and the Leiberman violence hearings all in one with a book called Seduction of the Innocent. In the aftermath, surviving comics companies like Dell and DC, publishing romance, science fiction, war, western (and some wacky super hero stuff, think Jimmy Olsen turning into turtle boy and Batmite stories). Out of this comes Turok: Son of Stone, a heroic Pre-Columbian Mandan warrior, Turok, and his younger protégé, Andar, who in exploring Carlsbad Caverns end up in the Lost Valley. Not bad for the mid 50s to have a native American protagonist!

Turok_35.jpg (21.47 KiB) Viewed 1030 times

Turok and Andar have their adventures published (sometimes with really attractive Dell comics covers, but less attractive under Gold Key and Whitman) from 1954 until the early 80s! I've read several dozen of these comics, and they have a pattern of Turok and Andar befriending or being antagonized by the local stoneage natives, battling 'honkers' (dinosaurs or other creatures), and looking for a way home. Also included are small stories, such as tidbits on dinosaurs or Neanderthals. Got it - Turok and Andar, two warrior braves, having adventures in some prehistoric Land that Time Forgot? For almost 30 years, but then Gold Key / Whitman quit the comics biz. Bye Bye Turok.

A few years later, a new company called Valiant bought the rights to Turok, and retooled him as Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Like the N64 game, right? Ah, no. This Turok is now fully absorbed into Valiant's multiverse, using high tech weapons (usually an automatic) to kill cybernetically enhanced dinosaurs, or otherwise dashing about the time stream including back to modern day America where he begins training Andars grandson (Andar being tossed in time generations earlier). Turok is now a much more modern native American, say from the late 19th century...basically think indian Rambo in a Superhero universe. Also think 'everything wrong about comics in the 90s' from the artwork to the overly complicated multi issue super duper cross over events to the violence level and general what the heck is going on storylines. However, it sold reasonably well, and as Valiant sunk down into the lost in the 90s, another company bought up Turok: Dinosaur Hunter...Acclaim.

So, the Acclaim video game is the 19th century native American Rambo tossed into modern times, right? No. The video game, and the comic, and the tie-in novels (I bought one for a quarter...wish I had my quarter back) have Turok being a title, not a person. In this case, its a teenager from a bloodline, who becomes Turok, guardian of the nexus of time or something. I think you can mostly ignore it in the video game, but the books are just dreadful. The current Turok, Joshua Fireseed (Fireseed, really?) is native American in name only, has a magic bag of tricks, a magic breastplate, and is a pacifist who will not kill. Good grief, its horrible. I was surprised to find its got a Gold Key imprint inside the cover. How the mighty have fallen.

That dies out, and in 2008 we get a new Turok video game. So, who is this Turok? This Turok, nominally a native American, is sort of a space marine on a dinosaur planet.

2008 though also gave us an animated movie, Turok: Son of Stone. There is also a tie-in graphic novel, by Dark Horse comics, but it seems to be a straight up modernization of the original Dell storylines. Here Turok is once again a native American from long ago, but with a savage battle lust that makes him a pariah. He ends up, with Andar and now a woman too, in the Lost Land fighting both human and dinosaur enemies, but far more viciously. Gone are the convenient poison arrows, now its all knives and bloodshed. Still, at least it was full circle with more violence.

But the adventure is still ongoing. Recently Valiant has made a comeback, but did not buy the rights to the old Gold Key no more Turok: Son of Mothergod with an Uzi comics. Another comic book company that buys up IPs, Dynamite, has brought back Turok though. Here Turok is an outsider like in the 2008 movie, but its long ago, a thousand years ago, and there are dinosaurs in the land. The comic, in modern terms, seems to be doing okay.

There you go. 60 years of Turok: Son of Dinosaur Hunter or something.

Re: 60 years of Turok

Posted: May 17th, 2015, 11:36 am
by Rev
This was an awesome write up. The only Turok I've ever known was the Turok from the N64 games. I always assumed that Turok was invented for the N64. Really interesting!

Re: 60 years of Turok

Posted: February 20th, 2018, 8:55 am
by pacman000
Finally found an old Turok comic. Fairly fun read, and that cover art is amazing. Here's a gallery of the old covers:

Re: 60 years of Turok

Posted: February 20th, 2018, 4:21 pm
by scotland
pacman000 wrote:Finally found an old Turok comic. Fairly fun read, and that cover art is amazing. Here's a gallery of the old covers:

Thanks for dredging up this old thread. Who doesn't want to be a rugged hero in a world of dinosaurs!

The Turok cover art is amazing for the Dell and Gold Key comics. Those publishers often had less expensive interior printing processes, but their covers were often excellent. Sometimes they used photos, and sometimes painted covers. For books like their Star Trek line, the covers are absolutely the best part of the whole comic.

Its also fun to see this as late 50's native American as hero, and he and Andar survived their adventures mostly by being smart, not better armed. The time period had a lot of Western heroes, but if they were a Native American, they usually turned out to be an orphaned white boy raised by the Native Americans (DC's Scalphunter and Marvel's Apache Kid both had this origin).

Re: 60 years of Turok

Posted: February 20th, 2018, 6:01 pm
by pacman000
You're welcome!

This is the one I bought:

They had several; picked this one based on the cover picture and the price. :)

I have two or three of the Valiant comics. Seems to be a continuation of the old stories, with a few details retro-conned. Didn't look too bad, till they added the talking dinosaurs. And, yes, it was too violent.

Fun fact: some people blame Valiant's Turok reboot on the mid-90's comic book crash. (Basically shops over-ordered the 1st issue and wound up with a bunch of extra stock. Probably more of a symptom of a bubble than its cause.)

Re: 60 years of Turok

Posted: February 20th, 2018, 7:46 pm
by scotland
The 90s comic crash is another discussion, but massive crossovers were just the order of the day. Why have great characters like Turok in the past fighting dinosaurs or Magnus, fighting robots in the future, and not put them together - thought just about everyone. Valiant was just one of many that did it - personally, I found all of their titles to be lacking in story, art, characters, concept, depth, ideas, or promise of getting better.

Even today, its hard for companies to learn this lesson. This year DC comics just had to go back to the well with bringing The Watchmen into their main DC universe. Its also quite common to have all sorts of short crossovers - Batman vs The Predator kind of thing.

Image is a bit of an exception as a company founded on the idea of creator owned characters, which has probably saved The Walking Dead from crossovers