Like many people I imagine, my first exposure to Turok was through the N64 video games in the 90s. Dark, bloody and filled with hungry dinosaurs I absolutely adored it. When I learnt later that Turok actually began life as a comic book, I wasn’t entirely surprised. The entire premise sounds like something that would work fantastically well in any visual medium. So when Dynamite announced they were bringing Turok back with writer Greg Pak and artist Mirko Colak, I immediately wanted to give it a go.
The story begins in the past, with a single page sequence hinting at Turok’s backstory, afterwards we jump forward and join him 16 years later. Although introduced alone, it quickly becomes clear that Turok is actually part of a tribe full of diverse characters. Despite that he’s quite a solitary character who even goes as far as to state his desire to remain alone multiple times in the book. He’s definitely an outcast amongst his peers and has no interest in working within a group. Unfortunately his cold personality means he comes across as a little bit unlikeable, though we do see flashes of compassion when it comes to his treatment of animals.
Those expecting the issue to be filled with gnashing, ferocious dinosaurs will be a little bit disappointed. They are here, but they only make a brief appearance. However when part of the series title is ‘Dinosaur’ you can bet there will be more in future issues. For this issue though, it’s the story of Turok and his tribe.
Almost more memorable than Turok himself is the setting of the story. With Colak’s art and Lauren Affe’s colours, the world looks rich with detailed. Shadowy trees stand over tribal huts, while dense forests surround the settlement. The environment feels dangerously wild and is a key part of the atmosphere. Characters are depicted just as well, despite the similar garb of the cast they all look distinct enough to easily tell apart. Occasionally though there’s a heavy use of shadows on some panels, compared to others. It works exceptionally well when detailing scenery, but when they completely obscure a character’s face they feel a little bit overused. This wouldn’t be so bad on its own as a stylistic choice, it actually gives the flashbacks a more mysterious edge, but it can make some panels look very noticeably different from ones that directly follow on in sequence. It’s not a huge problem, but it does make the reading experience a little jarring sometimes.
The issue works well as an introduction, but there’s some good action here too. Better yet we’re teased about both the backstory and the upcoming threat to Turok and his people, both are equally enticing and rather unexpected. Pak has done a good job of crafting an issue that fulfils the role of setting up the series, without feeling like it’s bogged down with unnecessary exposition. The art team also nail every segment of the book, showing that they can handle the variety on display. Whether it’s a dinosaur, an establishing shot or Turok himself, it all looks great. Together all the elements combine for an entertaining issue.
So overall Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1 is a good start. Turok may not be the most lovable protagonist, but he is skilled and entertaining to observe. Although we don’t get to see as much dinosaur action as you may want, the book honestly doesn’t need it and isn’t any worse for lacking it. If the story focuses more on Turok and the environment going forward, I’d be completely content. It works perfectly fine without the dinosaurs, despite them arguably being its biggest selling point, which shows that we’re in good hands.