By Andrew A. Smith
Scripps Howard News Service
My name is Andrew Smith, and I am a comic-book junkie.
Of course I’ve always suspected it. But with Turok, Son of Stone Archives
Vol. 4 ($49.95, Dark Horse), I can no longer deny it.
For those only familiar with Turok’s current videogame incarnation (which I hear is pretty impressive), Dark Horse’s Turok Archives
reprints the character’s earliest appearances, which were in the 1950s and ‘60s at a now-defunct comics company called Dell, best known for TV show adaptations and Disney books.
Like the current videogame, Turok in the comics is a pre-Columbian Native American who gets trapped in a Lost Valley (with a sidekick named Andar) full of dinosaurs, cavemen and various other anachronisms. But unlike the videogame, Turok
the comic book isn’t really all that exciting.
It’s actually pretty predicable. Turok and Andar search interminably for an exit from Lost Valley that we readers know they will never find, but survive because of technological superiority – they know how to make fire and poison arrows, and nobody else does. When you’re a spear-carrying caveman who’s always on the menu for dinosaurs (called “honkers” in the series), it pays to buddy up to the guy with the “magic” bow.
Most of these stories (from Turok
Nos. 19-24, 1960-61) riff off that idea one way or another, usually ending with the cavemen learning an after-school-special lesson. That’s the stuff of a noontime snooze, especially with the pedestrian art involved. Plus there are little educational pieces in each issue (e.g., “Triumph of the Egg”), which are usually pretty sedate except when they’re hilariously wrong. (Hey, they were written 50 years ago!)
You’d think Dinos & Injuns would be exciting. And the videogames prove the concept can be. But these comics are just mildly entertaining.
Which is how I know I’m an addict. I can’t tell you that the Turok Archives are outstanding, or exceptionally well done, or seminal early work by great artists. None of that is true. But I love ‘em just the same.
Maybe it’s just the comfort of the familiar. But I eagerly whip through each Turok
volume when it comes out. I can’t even pretend I’m buying them for review any more, because I don’t have much more to say about them.
Except I just did say quite a bit, didn’t I? Whew! Now I can still deduct this book from my taxes!
series is being re-released in an oversized, glossy “Deluxe” edition, starting all over with volume one ($29.99). It’s got some extra sketches and such that neither the original comic-book series nor the earlier trade paperbacks contained.
But that’s not what makes this book special. I found myself laughing out loud reading it, even though it’s the second (or third) time around for me. But it’s been a while, and I’d forgotten just how much fun Fables
Not that it’s boring or stale now, I promise. But as the monthly series nears the century mark, some of the freshness has, inevitably, worn off. And some of my favorite characters are, sadly, quite dead.
But here they are again in a big, glossy reprint of Fables
No. 1-10 from the storied, ancient year of 2002, when Snow White, Bigby Wolf, Jack (of the Beanstalk) and more were being introduced in their latest incarnation, refugees from the Fables homelands, which have been conquered by a ruthless, unnamed adversary. They’re stuck in New York, some of them powerful because they’re well known, others not so much because they’re forgotten. And some of them live upstate on a farm because they don’t look human and the Fables can’t let the Mundies (“mundanes”) know that they live among us.
It’s a simple concept and simply a blast, and I recommend Fables: The Deluxe Edition: Book One
P.S. Speaking of powerful Fables, one of the mightiest is Cinderella – Cindy to her friends – because just about everyone knows her story. She pretends to run a shoe store (Har! Har!) in New York, in but in reality she’s Fabletown’s superspy – which she’s good at because she passes for human, she’s incredibly resilient to harm and she’s frightfully sarcastic. She’s appeared only occasionally in the regular Fables
series, but she’s been granted a six-issue miniseries this month. I’ve only read the first issue of Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love
but the story is already hip-deep in James Bond territory.
Connery Bond, not Craig Bond.
Contact Andrew A. Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal at email@example.com