So, as you can probably tell, it’s Turok Week here at Power Cords. Why? Well… because I felt like it, really. I just love the Turok comics, as well as several of the games, and I felt that it was a perfect time to talk about the character, and maybe even get you guys interested in the series as well.
I find it rather surprising that so few fans of the Turok videogames know about the comic book series. It’s arguably the best way to experience Turok, and I’d argue are much more enjoyable than many of the games to have been released. Of course the games are important too, and while I touch on them here I’ll be going much more in-depth with each one later this week. But today, I feel it’s important to introduce Turok in the way he was initially imagined: as a comic book character.
The Turok franchise, as with most any other comic book character, has several different timelines/universes within it, all containing their own origin tales, story archs, villians, and heroes. So, to give you all a basic understanding of these universes, I’ve written some short overviews of each, their differences from one another, as well as which ones are most worthy of you time. Enjoy!
Turok: Son of Stone (Dell, Gold Key)
The first series is Turok: Son of Stone, which began way back in 1956. In this series, Native American Brave Turok, and his kid-brother Andar, set out one day on a trip to find water for their tribe. On the way, they stumble into a cave, which leads to a mysterious land inhabited by dinosaurs(or “Honkers” as they’re often called by the duo) and savage clans of barbarians and cave men. Turok and Andar call this place the “Lost Valley,” and spend the duration of the series overcoming traps and dangerous encounters, all while trying to search for a way out.
The stories in the books are alright, nothing all that memorable, but they’re important not only for setting the framework for the series: a lost land, dinosaurs, etc. but also for establishing the characteristic of Turok — a noble, clear-headed warrior, skilled in survival, hunting, and tracking — and his origin story.
Over the course of 26 years, Turok was published by Dell and Gold Key comics, but unfortunately Turok and Andar never found their way out of the lost land. At least, not until the characters were resurrected years later..
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Valiant Comics, Acclaim)
Years after the Gold Key series had ended, Turok and Andar returned in Valiant Comic’s universe-wide crossover, Unity. The focal point of Unity was a the Lost Land — essentially the Lost Valley of the Dell/Gold Key series, expanded and re-imagined to be an alter-dimension where humans and creatures throughout time were stuck, and filled with jungles, futuristic cities, rolling plains and firey volcanoes.
During Unity, Turok is duped by “Mothergod,” the antagonist of the Unity storyline, into hunting down the other Valiant Comics heroes. However, Turok quickly changes his mind and joins with the other heroes to defeat Mothergod, resulting in the destruction of The Lost Lands, sending Turok and his enemies to 1980’s-Earth. This is where Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Begins.
Prior to the events of Unity, it’s explained that Turok and Andar are separated. While in the ’80’s, Turok winds up uniting with Andar’s grandson, Andy. The two take part in similar adventures throughout Earth and the Lost Land. Dinosaur Hunter also introduced many iconic Turok villains such Longhunter, The Campaigner, and Chichak. The stories are quite good, and many issues have high quality art rivaling that of even today’s best books. This is also the same universe Acclaim’s Turok: Dinosaur Hunter videogame takes place in. I would definitely suggest reading this series, and Dinosaur Hunter is probably the most authentic Turok videogame experience.
Acclaim Universe (Acclaim)
Shortly after the release of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Acclaim took over the Turok line and ran parallel to the company’s Turok video game series. Acclaim reimagined “Turok” as a superhero-like mantel, handed down for generations from warrior to warrior. The Turok is the defender of the Lost Land and its inhabitants from all manner of tribal warlords, alien invaders, demons, and cosmic entities. The Turok from the Valiant line and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter videogame was renamed “Tal’Set,” and his origins as the first Turok re-written in prequel game Turok: Evolution (2002), retconning the Valiant line. In addition to Tal’Set, the line features several Turoks, mostly from the Fireseed family, including Carl Fireseed and his newphew Joshua (Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, 1999), and Joshua’s younger siblings Danielle and Joseph (Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion 2000).
Most notably, however, is the massive changes to the Lost Land itself. Shifting from alternate dimension to its own separate planet, the Lost Land become home to not just dinosaurs and humans throughout time, but also to aliens, undead, demons, and mythical creatures. In fact, Turok 2: Seed of Evil and Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion barely feature dinosaurs at all, and swap out bows and time travel with over the top weapons and convoluted stoylines.
While the Acclaim universe is notable for spawning the Turok videogame series, it’s also perhaps the biggest shift in tone and setting, bearing little resemblance to the Turok universe established by the Gold Key and Valiant lines. Of all the Turok stroylines, this is one you can probably skip, unless you’re looking for some simple gameplay or want to re-explore the series for nostalgia. The comics look great, and the stories are fine, but the changes are a bit much.
Turok: Son of Stone (2006) (Classic Media)
The Turok: Son of Stone storyline was revistied in the 2007 film of the same name. It follows a much darker origin tale, where Turok ‘s tribe is wiped out by and enemy tribe lead by none other than Chichak — one of Turok’s more memorable villains. Turok’s bother, Nashoba, is killed by Chichak during the battle, who fleas from Turok into a cave, that leads right into the lost lands.
Andar is now Turok’s nephew, rather than brother, and his sister in law, Catori, also finds her way into the Lost Valley along with Turok and Andar, where the trio run into an ancient tribe of Native Americans, and help them fight against Chichak and his newly acquired caveman hordes.
It’s a pretty decent flick, following the original comic book series well, while making some fresh changes to the story, and encorpoating the mature tone and violence of the Valiant series. It serves as just a viable place to start as both the Dell/Gold Key and Dark Horse Son of Stone lines. Definitely worth checking out, be on the look out for my review later this week!
Turok (2008) (Propaganda games)
The 2008 reboot of the video game series sees an entirely new version of Turok. In this universe, Joseph Turok (not related in anyway to previous Turoks, nor Joseph Fireseed) was once a member of a ruthless special forces group known as Wolf Pack, lead by General Roland Kane. When Turok witnesses the cruelty of his Wolf Pack comrades on a stealth mission, he leaves Wolf Pack, and is reassigned to the space marine squad Whiskey Company.
Roland Kane and Wolf Pack go AWOL, seizing control of a planet in the midst of being terraformed, and using the research facilities to created biological weapons for his private military group. Turok and Whiskey company are sent to the planet to stop Kane, but as they enter orbit their ship is shot down, and most of Whiskey company is wiped out. Turok and the survivors crashland on the jungle planet, and spend the game battling Kane’s army, and surviving against the dinosaurs, giant bugs, and mutant creatures that have come about as a result of the terraforming.
Many Turok fans derided the change in origins for Turok, lack of the Lost Land, and fans of the Acclaim series criticized the lack of crazy weapons or familiar enemy factions.
However, I really enjoyed this new take on the Turok story. It featured many of the keys things missing in the later Acclaim titles (stealth, emphasis on bow and knife combat, focus on dinosaurs and a lost land-esque setting). Turok isn’t perfect, but it was certainly fun. I really wish we could have seen where the story was going next, but the project was cancelled after Propaganda games severely downsized their team. Maybe one day we’ll see the next chapter in this Turok universe. I would probably say this the Turok game I’d recommend most.
Turok: Son of Stone (Dark Horse)
And finally, we have the most recent reboot of the series, yet another re-telling of the class Son of Stone storyline. From the get-go, things are much different — instead of being family members, Andar is saved by Turok after he is captured and nearly sacrificed by Mayan soldiers. The two flea from the Mayan Emporer Maxtla and his army, into the mountains. A strange storm opens a rift into another dimension, and Turok, Andar, and Maxtla’s forces are swept into the Lost Land — once again a land where wormholes send humans from different time periods find themselves face-to-face with barbarians, dinosaurs, and long-extinct animal species.
This is, in my opinion, probably the best story arc in any Turok line. While only four issues long, it is well-paced, features beautiful art and strong writing, and strikes the perfect balance between reptilian beats, advanced technology, and primitive warfare.
Best of all, it set itself up to seamlessly flow into the Valiant universe. It’s an absolutely fantastic place to start, and I highly recommend reading it — no matter if you read first, last, or by itself.
Unfortunately, much like with 2008’s Turok reboot, the project was cancelled (along with the entire line of Dark Horse’s Gold Key reboots) due to delays and increasing interference by Classic Media (who own the licence). It’s a shame; the series was off to a great start, and it was awesome to see Jim Shooter once again steering the Turok series. There were even solicits for issues 5 and 6, but they never saw the light of day. Rumors say the line may one day be resurrected, and I hope it is, because as I’ve said before, Turok is too awesome of a character to not have a place among the legendary pantheon of comic book heroes.