Wow, well, that was one of the more shocking endings in recent memory. I was going to call the book out for being frustratingly ambiguous, for not giving the reader a sense of time or place, for being coy with setting and chronology. But then I read the last few pages, and I will say that, if Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 is any indication, Dynamite’s new take on the old Gold Key characters will be one of the more compelling shared universes in contemporary comics.
With the new Valiant Universe firing on all cylinders, the one thing missing from those books are the classic Gold Key characters like Turok, Solar, and Magnus. Old School Valiant fans will want to turn their attention over to Dynamite, where a revival of these Gold Key characters has just begun with some serious talent behind the revival. Greg Pak and Mirko Colak know their genre; the book feels like a classic Turok tale, with lush, atmospheric art and a story fraught with a welcoming anachronistic feel. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 establishes Turok as an outsider from an unidentified tribe of indigenous peoples. He stands outside his tribe, has an (ironic) compassion for lizards, and tends to run afoul of the tribal version of bullies. It’s a pleasant coming of age story, but a reader, especially a seasoned Turok reader, will be a bit distracted from the narrative by the overwhelming question of, “Where the heck are the dinosaurs?”
Well, Greg Pak has to establish Turok and his people first. As mentioned, at first, it’s distracting that the story doesn’t tell the reader when or where the story takes place. The reader’s brain knows to expect dinosaurs, but how and when? Is this story set in another dimension, a hidden Savage Land like world, or something else? When the question is answered, the whole book comes into focus and a world arrives fully realized on the page with endless potential. It’s not the Turok book many will suspect, but with the last page reveal (which I won’t spoil here), many will realize that it’s the only Turok book they will ever want.
The dinosaurs are scary, adopting avian characteristics, and while this issue doesn’t reveal how they exist, it does reveal who controls them, and that is the heart of what is bound to be a compelling historic conflict. Turok’s nature as an outsider makes him an ironic hero to his people, but it also will make him a fascinating protagonist to follow. Many will not be familiar with Colak, but one look at the opening pages of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 makes it clear that this is an artist on the rise. His landscapes are breathtaking and his action and designs are masterful.
It’s a crowded market these days with the racks filled with a multitude of shared universes vying for reader attention. One must ask if the old Gold Key heroes, characters that have been out of the public eye for a long time, have a place in today’s market? The answer is, with books like Turok that aren’t afraid to take chances and tell a surprising and nuanced tale, yes, yes they do.
This is going to be an exciting universe to watch.