Rounding out CBR’s series of interviews with Jim Shooter on the return of classic heroes Doctor Solar and Magnus, Robot Fighter, talk turns today to “Turok, Son of Stone,” which Dark Horse announced at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo would be the next of the Gold Key characters to return. Like Solar and Magnus, Shooter has a history with the dinosaur-fighting Native American from his days at Valiant Comics, where he first reimagined these characters. No artist has yet been announced for “Turok,” but the series is expected to debut in August.
With “Turok” taking place in the past, “Doctor Solar” in the present, and “Magnus” in the future, we asked whether this progression represented a balance or something of a lineage to these characters’ adventures. “Hm. Well, that’s just how it happened to work out,” Shooter said. “I can’t say the varied time periods were any plan of mine, but I think it’s great. It offers tremendous diversity and exciting, varied story opportunities.”
Summarizing the concept of the series, Shooter told CBR News, “Turok is a Pre-Columbian Native American from the Northeast. In Turok’s own words: ‘Far have I traveled and I have learned many things. In the western desert, I saved the life of a young warrior. Fleeing the raiders who murdered his father, we sought refuge in a cavern, but we were swept away to a strange world by a magic unlike any I have ever seen. Here are thunder-lizards and nightmares, miracles and dreams. For the sake of the boy, Andar, I must find a way back home.’”
His journeys have, in more ways than one, made Turok unique among his peers. “Turok is just a man, but an uncommon man. In his time, no native of North or Central America has a metal weapon except him – a seax, or Viking long knife, made of Damascus steel, given to Turok by a Norse trader whom he befriended during his sojourn to Newfoundland, where Vikings came to trade and forage, and where Viking settlements once stood,” Shooter said. “The seax is an heirloom, handed down through generations to the trader from an ancestor who, as a mercenary for the Byzantine Empire journeyed as far as Baghdad.
“Another gift from the Norse: while in their company, Turok learned the art of making composite bows with bow staves reinforced with sinew and bone or horn that can propel an arrow nearly half a mile, like the legendary bows of the Turks,” the writer continued. “At closer range, they have devastating power, unrivaled by any wooden stave bow. There is not the like of Turok’s bow in the Americas.
“He has traveled a great deal, south through the trade routes of the Fort Ancient and Mississippian Cultures, then to the west. Along his path, Turok learned much from the tribes he encountered.
“He also learned much from their shamans – first, the secret language they share, more importantly, that most of what they do is trickery and illusion – though some things he has seen he cannot fathom – and most importantly never to fear the unknown or unfamiliar. To do so is to give power to the tricksters or more power to what is real but strange.
“To banish fear is to be formidable, almost unconquerable. Now, if he can just keep the kid, Andar, out of trouble….
“Turok is just a man, but what a man. Best of all, he’s smart.”
As to mysterious world to which Turok’s travels have ultimately led him, Shooter said, “The Timeless Land is a Cretaceous Era world just one continuum away from our own world. Dinosaurs still roam, but creatures great and small from every era of history – including human kind, the most dangerous of all – have been swept there via the same sort of phenomenon that brought Turok and Andar. It’s a terrifying, wonderful place.”
In such a world, Turok will be confronted with a vast and unusual array of threats. “Turok’s enemies early on include the vicious Aztec Emperor Maxtla, the fierce Panther People and their mysterious Goddess, Aasta, Thunder-Hand,” Shooter told CBR. “And, of course a horde of dinosaurs and other monstrous threats.”
Unlike the other titles Shooter is currently relaunching, the first issue of “Turok” will include the character’s origin story, “which is fairly brief.” “However, as we go along, more and more about Turok’s past will be revealed. We might even do a Zero Issue someday, because his background is so rich and deep,” he added.
“In the first arc, Turok, Andar, and their pursuers are swept away to the Timeless World where they become embroiled in a war between Maxtla and those he would capture and ritually sacrifice. Turok, after all his years and all his travels meets here, of all places, a woman with whom he falls in love. And that’s just the first issue….”
As with the two heroes that will precede him to publication, Turok is an iconic character, Shooter said. “Turok, Son of Stone, is the ultimate tale of man versus nature – and that includes the deadliest denizen of the natural world, man,” he said. “It blows me away. In more than 100 issues, the original series hardly scratched the surface of the possibilities. My intent is to refine it, explain a few things never revealed in the original, like how Turok knows all the lore and craft he knows, and make it even more exciting, more amazing, more wondrous strange and spectacular. That is, I hope to fulfill its destiny.”