The classic Dell Comics hero Turok returns this January in a new series from writer Ron Marz and artist Roberto Castro. This new story goes back to square one, as Turok chases after U.S. cavalrymen who have kidnapped his brother until he - and they - are transported to a strange world with dinosaurs and more.
Marz, who wrote Turok briefly during the character's time at Valiant in the 1990s, returns to the character for this standalone 'Year One' style adventure suited for new fans - but with acknowledgements for the long-time fans.
With Turok #1 scheduled to debut January 9, Marz spoke with Newsarama about this new Western-meets-fantasy series from Dynamite Entertainment.
Newsarama: Ron, what makes Turok unique?
Ron Marz: I think the simplicity of the concept is pretty great: a primitive warrior in an even more primitive land. I don’t think there are many modern comics that have dinosaurs as such an integral part of their storytelling.
I loved dinosaurs as a kid, and I still love them, so the chance to take on Turok was a great fit.
Nrama: There's a lot of history with Turok, but there's also a lot of people who don't really know the character.
What kind of story do you have planned to try to address that?
Marz: We’re very much starting on the ground floor. You don’t need to know any of Turok’s history or the backstory of any of the previous iterations. There’s nothing required, the reader can just jump in.
But if you’re a longtime Turok fan, the previous iterations are still an oar of this story. I don’t want to spoil where the story is going, so no details, but this is not an “everything you know is wrong” take. It’s an inclusive take that’s going to honor the previous versions as well.
Nrama: What's this world like Turok is transported to here - and are you still calling it the Lost Lands?
Marz: It’s very much a time-lost land, with an array of dinosaurs and primitives, kind of like classic Edgar Rice Burroughs tales in that respect. My intention for the Lost Land is for it to have a surprise around every corner.
Nrama: Is this a man versus nature kind of story, or is there a specific antagonist (or antagonists) in this for Turok? If so, who are they?
Marz: Yes to all of those. Obviously, there’s a man versus nature aspect in a bunch of hungry dinosaurs looking to devour on Turok and his brother. But there are definitely antagonists along as well, starting with a cavalry troop that’s pursuing the brothers in Colorado, looking to capture or kill them. The soldiers get drawn into the Lost Land as well, so they and Turok have to decide whether they’re enemies or allies in this new setting. And finally, there’s a mysterious bounty hunter who’s also pursuing Turok, and who is far more than he seems.
Nrama: Ron, I remember you doing Valiant's X-O Manowar in the 1990s but I don't believe you've ever penned a Turok story. What's been your views on Turok over the years as a fan, then as a writer?
Marz: Yup, this is my first real encounter with Turok as a writer, though I have a hazy memory of slipping a Turok appearance into one of our X-O issues. I can also remember, as a very small kid, seeing some of the 1960s Turok issues in a box of my brother’s comics in our basement. Certainly then as now, dinosaurs were the attraction. No matter what version, Turok has always been a bad ass, and we’re very much continuing that tradition.
Nrama: And on the other side of this, the authenticity. You have at your fingertips more research material than ever with the internet and experts to talk to. How are you going about writing an authentic Native American in Turok? For instance, what tribe is he a part of? At various times he's been associated with two fictional tribes.
Marz: In this version, Turok and Andar are from the Kiowa tribe, which was inspired by Joseph Turok in the video game version. I very much want to have a feel of authenticity for this, which is one of the reasons I set it in the Old West during the Indian Wars. The Kiowa put up pretty fierce resistance to the westward expansion of white settlers, and paid a brutal price for it. I liked the idea of juxtaposing the vanishing way of life for the Kiowa against a literal lost land.
Nrama: What are your goals with this series?
Marz: Ultimately, the same as any book I write, which is to write characters that the audience can care about, so they want to come back in a month to see what happens. That, and a big-time adventure with some breathtaking visuals. Part of my job is to give Roberto Castro some pages where he can really show off, and he’s doing that in a huge way. I feel like this is definitely the best stuff Roberto has ever drawn.
Nrama: I wanted to ask about Roberto. How did you land on him to do this?
Marz: Editor Matt Idelson and I came up with a pretty extensive list of possible Turok artists, including Roberto, who was actually suggested by Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci. Nick really felt like Roberto would be a great fit, and signed off on Roberto drawing a batch of sample pages.
Obviously, the pages showed Roberto would be a great fit. Matt and I both knew we had our guy. And, frankly, Roberto's pages in issue #1 are even better than the samples.
Nrama: Last question, Ron. Say you're transported like Turok to this strange world. What are you doing to survive?
Marz: Find Turok, and ask him to save my ass!