6.18 · 6,898 ratings · 774 reviews
Turok, Son of Stone Archives Volume 1 by Gaylord DuBoisThis first volume features Plains tribesmen Turok and his youthful and impulsive sidekick Andar as they first stumble upon a hidden series of canyons and caverns, geographically situated in what we now call New Mexico. These canyons happen to support prehistoric life in the forms of caveman tribes and dinosaurs. We are repeatedly told that this story takes place a few centuries before the European discovery of North America.
Although this 1950s comic by Dubois (Dell Comics)features American Natives as the leading characters, the story lines parallel many of the colonizing acts perpetrated on the indigenous people the Europeans found when the New World was discovered. Under the guise of assisting the tribes they encounter, Turok repeatedly refers to the prehistorics as savages and backward. In one issue we see Turok and Andar in the role of leaders in a foreign land, relocating a tribe to a preferable location, only to have that tribe again threatened. Our heroes systematically instruct another tribe to change their way of life from hunters and gatherers to that of agriculturalists. Throughout the entire collection Turok and Andar are gratuitously killing beasts for meat and yet purposely laying much of the kill for waste, something no warrior of the Plains would have deliberately done.
Another theme throughout was the use of their poison tipped arrows, again altering the lifestyle of the indigenous cavemen. Turok and Andar establish their position of power through the judicious dispersal of the weapon without divulging their secret to making the poison, much akin to the Europeans restricting the use of guns for political gain. It is at this point Dubous engages the popular sneaky/deceitful indian trope in the guise of the wise medicine man in an attempt to steal Turoks power. But of course our eponymous hero outsmarts the inferior medicineman.
Another parallel between these two peoples involves communication. Early issues feature communication between Turok and the cavemen as an obstacle but gradually the cavemen lose their own language preferring to communicate to accommodate the superior Turok and Andar.
I have to give this 3 stars because the drawings are really fabulous. Dubois captures some great action scenes and in no way does he create a caricature within his story. I found the illustrations far more captivating than the simple storylines designed for children to read.
Not knowing the history of Dubois, I cannot state whether these parallels were deliberately used to voice a personal commentary against colonization, or whether he simply wanted to tell a tale featuring the exotic Other as the hero.Either way, reading this now dated material, this series clearly (to my eyes at any rate) depict foreign men taking on the role of leaders in their new land, imposing their modern thinking on otherwise backwards and in their opinion,inferior people, creating situations that force the savages to become dependent upon them for security and survival all the while changing their way of life, and their language. Sounds like a 1950s portrayal of colonization to me.
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