Turok has had his ups and downs in the video game world. The early N64 games were both FPS games that felt ahead of their time, their mature content helping them stand-out on Nintendo’s family friendly focused console, but then Turok: Evolution, released in 2002, objectively sucked and killed the franchise – and maybe even played a role in the collapse of its publisher, Acclaim Entertainment. Propoganda Games sought to reboot the series in 2008 with Turok, but unfortunately this game was middling at best and that was the last anyone saw of the dinosaur hunter. It was if the arrow wielding warrior had descended down the gullet of a T-Rex.
In comics, Turok has fared much better. He has real legs as a character, first debuting way back in 1954, but since then Turok has moved from licence holder to licence holder until ending up with Dynamite in 2013. The publisher has had mixed success with the dinosaur hunter since, but this latest reboot from creators Ron Marz and Roberto Castro oozes with confidence.
With Turok #1, writer Marz seeks to return Turok to his Valiant and Gold Key heyday. Set in the nineteenth century, Turok is a Native American in pursuit of his younger brother, Andar, who has been kidnapped by a squad of villainous US cavalrymen. For those familiar with Turok, it’s a story that has been told before, but here it’s told with clarity and, more importantly for an origin issue, pace. Over twenty-three pages we are introduced to Turok, his brother, antagonist Captain Connors, a time portal and a big dinosaur. All these varied elements are handled with skill, thanks to the kinetic art of Castro. There’s some superb detail on display here, from the dishevelled stubble of an unwashed cavalryman to panoramic Western landscapes, Castro’s pencil work is stellar throughout.
This is a comic filled with action, the character development and world building accomplished by showing rather than telling. Castro’s page compositions flow from set piece to set piece, culminating in a Velociraptor attack that ups the gore ratio significantly. And thank goodness that there’s a dinosaur!
For a moment I was concerned that Marz would keep the dinos for a later issue, but he smartly gets to the good stuff straight away. It’s cowboys versus Indians versus dinosaurs and it’s as bonkers and brilliant as that sounds. The star of the show in undoubtedly the velociraptor, its mauling of several unwitting cavalrymen proving the highlight of the issue. Ultimately the creature proves particularly effective in demonstrating Captain Connors martial prowess – clearly this is a villain who will prove the physical equal of Turok.
All the action does result in a plot which could probably be surmised on the back of a beer mat. There’s one moment that seeks to intrigue, a mysterious stranger watching from afar, but this cliched offering proves of little interest. What should prove interesting is how Marz and Castro will develop their story in future issues. Will Turok remain a fast and frantic action fest or will we see some complexity and emotional depth established? Either way, it does more than enough to make me return for the next issue. This is a fun comic, and whilst there’s little here to surprise long-term Turok fans, it does manage to quickly and neatly reboot Turok for a new generation of readers.
New for 2019 we’re looking beyond video games themselves and at the stories and world that are continued and expanded upon through other mediums, namely in books, comic books and film. ‘The Pull List’ will be focussing on comics, with reviews arriving on Wednesdays, the traditional release date of new issues.