By Chris Arrant
Shooter: Lost Land, Timeless Land, whatever. That’s what we call it. Turok doesn’t know the name of the place. To him it’s just “here.” It’s one continuum removed from where we are. It’s Earth in the Cretaceous Period—except that the same phenomenon that swept Turok and Andar to this place has also swept in people and things from many other times and places. To say it’s fantastic is selling it short. The opportunities are limitless.
Nrama: People know Turok, but can you tell us about Andar?
Shooter: He is the son of the Chief of a Chiricahua band. His father sacrifices his own life to buy time for his son—and Turok—to escape Aztec raiders. Honor demands that Turok take the boy as his own son, finish his education and upbringing—Turok owes that to the spirit of the boy’s father. Chiricahua are forbidden to speak their own names, so Turok gives the boy the name “Andar,” which in the secret tongue of Shamans means “Strong Roots.”
Nrama: What can people expect with this first issue—what’s the story?
Shooter: Here’s the promo blurb I wrote:
“Blood for the Sun” Part 1—“Out of Time”
The American Southwest, 1428. Turok, Son of Stone, a wanderer, a warrior wise and strong, rescues young Andar, son of a Chiricahua chief, from death at the hands of raiders from a great city to the south. Pursued by the ruthless King Maxtla and his host, Turok and Andar seek refuge in a vast cavern—and then, a force beyond comprehension sweeps them all away to a savage, timeless land where nightmares and miracles abound, where dinosaurs thunder and rampage. Maxtla sees opportunity—power to be had, a new world to seize—but first, the prisoner who slipped his grasp must be recaptured and ritually sacrificed. Hunted by he who would be God-King in a world of monstrous beasts, with danger and death at their heels, Turok and Andar encounter an even deadlier threat—the fearsome Panther People and their mysterious, mesmerizingly beautiful Goddess, Aasta.
Nrama: They’re facing against the Aztecs and a ruler named King Maxtla, as well as the Panther People. Can you tell us about these adversaries?
Shooter: Here’s how “Mescalero,” an escaped, Nadahéndé slave explains the Aztec and Maxtla:
In fact, Maxtla was the Divine Emperor of one of the Aztec peoples, famous for being utterly ruthless. He murdered his brother, for instance, to become Emperor. In 1428, three other Aztec peoples suffering under his oppression rose up against him. Some say he was captured and ritually sacrificed, but some say he escaped and fled north with a small, elite force. There begins the story. Maxtla is heinous even by Aztec standards—and to them, ritual sacrifices of countless people was normal, part of the price that must be paid to keep the sun rising. There is also good evidence that they were cannibals.
At least Shooter seems to have researched African tribes for his proto-Zulu people. Has he researched the Aztecs too? Were they really "utterly ruthless"--in politics, business, and family life? Or is this a stupid stereotype? Are we really supposed to believe that because the state religion involved human sacrifice, every Aztec individual was a murderer and cannibal? Did Aztec children cut their rivals' throats so they could win at marbles or hopscotch?
Meanwhile, Turok is a "warrior wise and strong." In other words, a noble savage. Does he have a single flaw that makes him more than a cardboard cutout? Not according to this interview. If Turok is anything other than an Indian Boy Scout (you know: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent), it isn't obvious.
Also, the idea of a "lost land" with people and creatures from many eras has been done many times. But I don't think it's ever been done successfully. It's a gimmick, like stunt casting, not an engine for serious storytelling. Romans! Cavemen! Nazis! Pirates! Knights! Samurai! Aliens! With big dome heads! Seen it! Before!
For more on the subject, see 3.5 Arrowheads for Dark Horse's TUROK and Firehair, Joshua Brand, and Turok.