Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1

Dynamite Entertainment teased "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" and a trio of other comic books featuring the Gold Key Comics characters in the latter half of 2013, giving comic book readers something to look forward to in the early winter months of 2014. Writer Greg Pak and Mirko Colak launch the Gold Key imprint with "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" #1, a comic book that delivers on all expectations readers could have for a comic book bearing those three words in its title.

Behind the clean, standard-issue cover from Bart Sears that sports a tightly restrained trade dress, readers are introduced to Turok with a flashback to the young warrior's earliest days. From there, Pak jumps to the now and introduces readers to Turok -- a warrior alone, investigating the world without the burden of his tribe. Pak quickly highlights a bitter resentment towards Turok from a trio of tribal brothers: Andar, Kobo and Timo. The exact relation between these four is not outlined, but the message is clear: they don't like Turok. Turok doesn't like them much either, preferring to be alone and frequently dipping back to what becomes his mantra: "Alone is better."

Despite his preference for being alone, Turok is surrounded by a wildly diverse cast. That cast is (mostly) his tribe, but artist, Mirko Colak, with colorist, Lauren Affe, provide unique appearances and actions for all of the inhabitants of "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" #1. In addition to showcasing diversity in a limited environmental sample, the artists, together with letterer Marshall Dillon make this a very enjoyable visual journey. Through the first scene, as the reader is adjusting to a strange new setting and the potential of bold new stories, Turok is cloaked in a mystery, shrouded by the shadows of leaves from the trees that stretch high overhead. That choice makes the world mysterious and organic from the start, with hints of a large world beyond the panel borders. I expected the book to be finely detailed and the characters to be distinct, but the level of detail poured into character, flora and fauna simply fills "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" #1 with beautiful artwork. The best part of it all is that Colak's dinosaurs actually look like dinosaurs should, despite their potentially controversial feathered exterior. Yes, it might take a bit to adjust to the thought of feathered dinosaurs, but the killers lurking the pages of this issue have features one would expect from long-lost ancestors of lizards, crocodilians and birds instead of some twisted demonic snarly-faced toy design.

While many readers might come to this book associating Turok to Valiant or even video games, the character does a fine job standing on his own. After all, "alone is better," but "alone with dinosaurs" is better still. As "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" #1 closes, the setting comes into clearer focus, giving readers a sense for the where and the when, but the what remains a mystery and has promised to pack an adventure-filled picnic basket for lunch.

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