Review by Frank Plowright
Turok Son of Stone’s visual creator was Rex Maxon, but while he drew Turok and Andar’s earliest outings, soon into the run his contribution became restricted to four page explorations of the creatures the pair of Native American wanderers met. Artists lacking his talent and imagination drew the lead feature over Volume 2 and Volume 3, so it’s a real pleasure to see Maxon back drawing Turok and Andar over two-thirds of this collection. Quite apart from anything else, he brings far more life to the people, who look like they’re moving, and he puts the effort into drawing full figures in plausible locations.
Even the stories not drawn by Maxon have an artistic polish, with Bob Fujitani and Giovanni Ticci responsible. Fujitani sticks closely to Maxon’s understated storytelling, but Ticci applies more cinematic sensationalism and positively relishes drawing twisted branches.
Because the original comics from the early 1960s didn’t carry credits, it’s easier to identify the artists from their styles than the writers, but it’s accepted that Paul S. Newman wrote much, if not all the material collected here. There’s a change in approach with this content. Previous Turok stories had featured two fourteen page segments of the same story separated by Maxon’s educational feature. This selection supplies standalone tales in fourteen pages. They may be shorter, but it in effect doubles the amount of stories.
Those stories largely relegate the dinosaurs, or “honkers” as they’re referred to by Turok and Andar, to the background and providers of the occasional life-threatening danger. Instead the scripts concentrate on the assorted tribes of cave dwellers. Their more primitive nature is indicated by simpler dialogue, while Turok’s is grammatically correct, and they’re amazed at Turok’s ingenuity, especially bows and arrows and his creation of fire. He’s also seen organising work to bring water, providing cleverly plausible solutions and facing dangers such as being trapped in quicksand with a Tyrannosaur approaching. That’s combined with squabbles between rival tribes and assorted more human experiences, and the plots constantly stress plausibility, such as Turok recognising why it is dinosaurs come to a river to die.
While the earlier volumes might have greater historical importance for introducing Turok and featuring his earliest appearances, this provides the best selection of Turok stories to date. There’s more to come in Volume 5.