Best Shots Review: TUROK #1

"Turok #1" preview 2019
Credit: Dynamite Entertainment
Credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Turok #1
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Roberto Castro and Salvatore Aiala
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Pierce Lydon
‘Rama Rating: 3 out of 10

Credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Readers of a certain age will will remember Turok as frustratingly difficult Nintendo 64 game, but the Native American dinosaur hunter has been around in comics since the 1950s. With Dynamite taking over the license, Ron Marz and artist Roberto Castro give us a reintroduction to the character however, they fail to capitalize on what’s essentially the coolest part of the character: dinosaurs. Given the script, it’s hard to place too much blame on Castro and colorist Salvatore Aiala for delivering a fairly stock Western story. But this is still a failed debut on almost every level.

Credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Modern comic book writers’ penchant for decompression can be a blessing or a curse depending on the story they are trying to tell, the genre they’re telling it in, and their own personal strengths and weaknesses. Ron Marz takes us back to the beginning with Turok, showing how he and his brother Andar end up in a canyon populated by dinosaurs. But the writer’s problem is that he starts the story too early. The subsequently decompressed plot does little to develop any of the characters, and the premise is so simple that it doesn’t require this much buildup just to get us to an inevitable splash page of Turok and Andar looking at dinosaurs. That’s about an anticlimactic as a cliffhanger can get. By the end of the issue, we’re given little reason to care for the characters, and we’ve learned next to nothing about them.

Credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Roberto Castro’s art has a sketchy sort of energy to it that plays well in some of the action scenes, but he makes some odd choices in terms of panel choice and layout. We get a lot of stuff that would set the tone in a Western, but plays against the pacing of the book and the sandy brown locale doesn’t give us a great sense of setting, movement or scale. There are panels that attempt to do that but they’re so awkwardly placed or not rendered dynamically enough. For instance, the appearance of a man in black begins with a shot of the ground with a small shadow of a horse in one corner. It’s basically just a panel of rocks and it doesn’t do much more than fill space. Castro’s character are fairly strong, but do suffer from that aforementioned sketchiness, giving a sort of unwanted elasticity to their facial features at times. This isn’t the most polished looking book. But his dinosaurs look pretty good (if scientifically inaccurate, given the lack of feathers), and it’s a shame he doesn’t get to draw more.

I understand that Marz is trying to build something new here, but nothing about this feels new. Castro isn’t a bad artist and hopefully, once he doesn’t have to draw the Colorado deserts, he’ll flourish. But Marz’ plotting really has to pick up the pace, too. While this book isn’t called “Turok: Dinosaur Hunter,” that’s what people are picking up the book expecting. It’s not a writer’s job to completely just give readers what they want, but this debut does nothing here to win readers over to this character.

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