Mar 20

Written by: Asylum News
3/20/2009 8:08 PM  RssIcon

The origins of Turok dates back to 1953. No one is perfectly positive who created Turok, as comics did not always include credits in the golden era. While it is difficult to pinpoint the actual creator(s) of the character there have been various names tossed around including Matt Murphy (editor), Alberto Giolitti (writer) , Rex Maxon (illustrator) and Gaylord Du Bois (writer). It is important to note that most evidence points to Gaylord Du Bois as the creator of Turok. Indeed in his notes, we find the excerpts for two "Young Hawk "stories that were entitled "Young Hawk Finds World Below" that was to run for 16 pages and "Young Hawk Conquers the Terrible Ones" slated for 18 pages. Young Hawk was later changed to Turok. In December of 1954 Turok made his first appearance in Four Color Comics issue #596 published by Western Publishing. Turok was featured in two short stories; "Turok and the World Below" and "Turok and the Terrible Ones".

In the stories, Turok and his brother Andar, stumbled into the an isolated valley with immense walls that they could not scale. They quickly realized that the valley was filled with "honkers" (dinosaurs). The stories go on to tell how Turok and Andar discovered a potent poison to kill the dinosaurs, and they also befriended a tribe of primitive men who lived in the isolated valley. Turok and Andar fought dinosaurs while trying to find a way out of the valley. The stories were illustrated by famed Tarzan comic strip artist, Rex Maxon. We would have to wait another 10 months before Turok made his second appearance. The success of both appearances caused Turok to get his own series in mid-1956, called Turok: Son of Stone. The series chronicled the adventures of Turok and Andar as they struggled to stay alive in the isolated valley. Every issue trilled it's readers by pitting our two heroes against dinosaurs, aliens and primitive men.

In 1962, Western Publishing and Printing terminated it's working relationship with Dell Publishing and started it's own comic book brand titled Gold Key Comics. Starting with issue #30, Turok's title was now printed under this new brand name. Other than the branding change, very little else changed and for the next 20 years, Turok and Andar continued fighting dinosaurs and other fantastic monsters on a monthly basis while still trying to locate the way out of the isolated valley. At long last appeared a creature that Turok and Andar could not defeat, profit margins. A faltering Gold Key Comics forced the end of the series with issue #130. The series did not end with a bang, but more of a whimper. Our two heroes never did escape the isolated valley filed with honkers, and the last part of the comic was a reprint of a story that was originally printed 15 years earlier.

Fast forward another another decade, Valiant Comics is now the golden child of the comic industry. After a humble start, ex Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter propelled the fledging company to the top of the comic publishing world. He had managed this amazing accomplishment without comic industry heavy weights such as Spider-Man, Batman, Superman or the X-Men. Valiant featured it's own heroes such as Archer & Armstrong, the Rai, Harbinger, and Shadowman. But most notable is the fact that Shooter had acquired the character rights to some old Gold Key Comics heroes including Doctor Solar, Magnus Robot Fighter and Turok: Son of Stone. Jim Shooter had already made a huge success out of Magnus and Solar, he was now ready to bring back Turok. Valiant Comics did not become an industry leader by chance. The comic line features intelligent and involving story lines and clean artwork. Jim Shooter wanted Turok to be special, so they set up this huge elaborate crossover story called Unity that involved every single title in the Valiant Universe.

Turok's first appearance in the Valiant universe was during the Unity crossover. Tal'set (Turok's actual name) was still accompanied by his brother Andar, but they were now 18th century Native Americans. The two were trapped in the Lost Land, which was no longer a isolated valley, but a self contained piece of space where time moved slower than outside of it's borders. The known universe aged millions of years, but the Lost Land only aged a few years. The Lost Land was also the homebase for the evil entity known as Mothergod. In her bid to control not only the Lost Land, but also the rest of the world, she modified the existing dinosaurs with brain boosters so they could accept and follow commands. These intelligent-dinos became known as "bionisaurs". It took the collective force of all the heroes in the Valiant universe to defeat Mothergod. As she perished, the Lost Land started to collapse on itself. The inhabitants were "tossed" into the modern world. Turok was ejected into the jungles of Columbia. He was not alone, as many bionisaurs also made the jump. The hunt was still on. This set the stage for Turok to once again star in his own title. Valiant Comic released the new Turok in 1993 to a frenzied public. Turok #1 sold an astonishing 1.7 million copies. Tal 'Set was now more popular than ever. Valiant Comics was also riding high, perhaps too high. The success of Valiant Comics drew the attention of big companies, and in 1994 was sold to Acclaim Entertainment for a sum of $65 million. The game publishing company turned comic book publishing company re-launched Turok as a young Native American, the latest bionisaur hunter from a long line of bionisaur hunters. The stories were no longer intriguing or exciting as a result, the new Turok lost most of it's former audience. This did not bother Acclaim, as they did not purchased Valiant Comics to publish comics, they just wanted the rights to the characters to make video games. Thus starts a new chapter in the life of Turok.

In 1997, Acclaim released Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for the Nintendo 64 game console. In the game, you controlled Tal' Set (aka Turok), as he attempts to stop “The Campaigner” from taking over the Lost Land. The game was presented in the first person shooter format, this would be the format for all future Turok titles. The game was an instant hit. Critics raved about the flawless gameplay and gamers loved shooting big prehistoric lizards. It sold millions of copies and was later ported over to the PC with mild success. Acclaim quickly followed up Dinosaur Hunter with the 1998 release of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. This time you now control Joshua Fireseed, the new Turok. While the main character changed, everything else remained the same. Turok's quest was once again to save the Lost Land from the bad guy, only the bad guy was now an alien entity know as the Primagen. This game was also a critical and financial success. It established Turok as a viable and profitable game franchise.

The next Turok title was a bit of a departure from the regular series. Released in 1999, Turok: Rage Wars was Acclaim's answer to popular multiplayer only games such as Quake Arena and Unreal Tournament. The game again featured Joshua Fireseed but this time his battles were a series of deathmatches against the game. It was not till the following year that gamers got another chance to once again battle dinosaurs as Turok in Turok: Shadow of Oblivion. This new game once again cast Joshua Fireseed, but this time his sister and brother (Joseph, not Andar) get in on the action. Again, while the characters changed, the story changed little. Perhaps it was because of the subtle game changes, or possibly the lack of change, but gamers did not flock towards this new Turok title. The game did not perform very well.

The final game in the Turok line was Turok: Evolution. After the disappointment of Turok: Shadow of Oblivion, this new game aimed at restarting the series. It featured the returns to Tal' Set (the first Turok). Tal' Set was somehow transported to the Lost Land while battling an American soldier during the end of the 19th century. He was then rescued by a prophet who indicated that he, Tal 'Set was the chosen one, the one known as Turok, the Son of Stone and that he must save the Lost Land from bad guys. This restart to the franchise did not save Acclaim from the financial velociraptors and Acclaim sold the rights to the Turok franchise to Disney.

Disney, now the proud owners of a former AAA franchise, enlisted newly formed Canadian game developer Propaganda Games to bring Turok to the next-generation of game consoles. Based on the documentation provided by Disney and Propaganda Games, Turok will undergo many dramatic changes to the point that only the name Turok will remain the same as before. In the new Turok game, set in the near future, you play as Joseph Turok (Turok is now a last name and no longer a title as it had always been) sent to an isolated planet, the Lost Land, to apprehend a war criminal. During his quest, Turok's ship gets shot down and now our new Turok must use his skills to survive. At least the dinosaurs are back.

[UPDATE] Since having written this spotlight on Turok, the Xbox 360 and PS3 title launched to somewhat critical and financial success, but an economic recession terminated all work done on a follow-up sequel.

-Brian William Wray

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