By GW Thomas
And different plants too, not a recurring appearance of the same jungle vine or stalking tree. In the course of one hundred thirty-three issues, Turok saw five different plant encounters from issue #11 to 122. Over those twenty-one years, Turok and Andar encountered one plant fiend for every five years. That's pretty impressive when you consider how long most comics last.
The first green terror appeared in "The Valley of the Vines" (Turok, Son of Stones #11, March-May 1958). The duo are escaping a T-Rex and become trapped in a valley where the vines will allow you to come in but not go back out. The thorns are all on one side, keeping animals in, I presume as a food source.
When the T-Rex that chased them into the valley becomes trapped as well, Turok sees his way out. Using fire arrows, Turok and Andar drive the gigantic dinosaur through the deadly thorns. The saurian dies at the end, making a bridge for Ulf and his tribesmen to climb out of the valley. They escape and Ulf's leadership is reaffirmed.
"The Deadly Jungle" (Turok, Son of Stone #26, December 1961-February 1962) has the two friends encounter predatory vines and pods they call "plant-traps". Turok claims, "I have never seen plants like these..." which of course we know is wrong. Only thirteen issues ago he had, but let's not quibble.
Turok learns there is a tribe of cavemen nearby who know of a seed that, when ground into a powder, will release the vines. They won't share the location of the seeds. Andar spies on them that night but is discovered. He ends up in the vine trap and Turok must go in search of the seeds. The cavemen know of two spots where the red flowers grow, but direct Turok to the more dangerous location. The flowers grow near a pterodactyl nest and Turok has to do some fancy shooting to escape. With the powder, he rescues Andar but also releases an allosaurus by accident. He tricks the dinosaur back into the vines.
The best thing the Plant People have is a gauntlet known as the Maze. Anyone who can make it through is declared innocent of a crime. Turok and Andar are accused of killing a man they found dying. In the Maze there are the usual strangling vines, as well as giant Venus flytraps, acid sprayers, cacti that shoot spines, "Moon Plants" that cast a radiance and make it easier for the sentries to see you. Turok saves them both by setting one type of plant against another. He uses fire to drive off certain plants. The duo make it out of the Maze, but the Plant People won't let them go. Turok uses his new knowledge to set the plants against his captors.
The final plant tale is a sad good-bye. "The Vines of Death" (Turok, Son of Stone #122, July 1979) proves even less interesting. Aggressive cavemen stop following the duo, saying, "They'll die when the rains come." Killer vines shoot up after a rainstorm and try to grab the hunters. Turok uses fire to hold them off until the vines wither in the heat. (Turok learned this and many other tricks back in The Maze but seems to have forgotten after fourteen years.) Again nothing new, no real plot. Somebody phoned this one in, remembering the good old days of 1965.
GW Thomas has appeared in over 400 different books, magazines and ezines including The Writer, Writer's Digest, Black October Magazine and Contact. His website is gwthomas.org. He is editor of Dark Worlds magazine.