Jim Shooter goes along with comics like Jameson’s with a pickle juice chaser. It sounds gross, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but for those with an especially discerning palate it can be quite the treat. Sure, he’s the infamous rebel of comics, blamed by many for the creation of the mega event, but one man’s rebel is another man’s freedom fighter and for those with a taste toward the 80’s he is just what the doctor ordered (along with a heavy dose of cliches from little old me).
His return to comics has been trumpeted by Dark Horse for months, and like many others I looked forward to reading his relaunch of the Valiant/Gold Key characters he helped make famous in the 90’s. Then Solar: Man of the Atom #1 came out and I was... disappointed, bored, confused. It wasn’t much of a read and a poor way to relaunch some pretty cool properties. The reprint of the original Solar introduction was the high point. Not a good sign.
Because of this I almost didn’t pick up Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter #1 when it released this week, but fond memories of the comic (and the N64 games) finally convinced me to give Shooter one more shot.
From the first turn of the page, before reading a single word, I was totally stoked. The look of the book is slick, and perfectly matches the tone of the story, being at once modern and reminiscent of the Valiant series. Eduardo Francisco does an amazing job of breathing life into his characters and capturing (at least in the mind of this reviewer) pre-European America.
The next thing I noticed was the violence, surprising mostly because Jim Shooter famously fought to keep the Comics Code Authority. In the first scene we get human sacrifice, a few guys hacked up by a sword and a couple of arrows skewering a few of the baddies.
Finally, Shooter’s story takes center stage and events get rolling. Turok, for a reason not stated, saves a 14 year old boy from being sacrificed and the two rush to escape, hunters hot on their heels. They hide in a cave, but a crazy lightning bolt sends them and their pursuers into a land populated by dinosaurs (hence the name, ‘natch). Despite this development the chase continues and Turok and friend are forced to flee.
The story is solid and interesting. Disbelief must be heavily suspended, but if you’re reading works in this format that’s probably no a big deal. The place where things really seem to freeze up is in the dialogue. I’m of the opinion that if you’re characters don’t need to talk to move the plot along or give insight into their personality or motivations then they should keep their mouths shut. Shooter seems to believe he has to fill every panel with a few bubbles, and a lot of them go wasted.
This isn’t the best book I’ve read recently, but it’s definitely worth another look next month and helps me believe the old rebel may be starting to get back in the groove after dusting off a few cobwebs. B-.