Turning The Gold Key – Review Of Turok, Magnus, Solar And Doctor Spektor

As long as I've been reading comics, someone has been trying to make comics based on the characters of Turok, Magnus, Solar and in some cases Doctor Spektor. There is something about these characters that make publishers want to give it a shot. Whether it was their original home at Gold Key, part of the Valiant and later Acclaim universe or anywhere else, these characters keep getting another chance. And at the beginning of this year, Dynamite Entertainment was the next publisher up to bat.

I sat down the other night and read everything that had some out so far.

Turok05CovSearsThey kicked it off with Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and brought in Planet Hulk writer Greg Pak and teamed him with first artist Mirko Colak and then Takeshi Miyazawa. In the first four issues we see Turok, an outsider who would only be welcomed back into his tribe if he pay his deceased parents debt. But when the tribe is attacked by settlers with dinosaurs looking for hidden gold, only the ostracized loner can save them. Pak has crafted a lead character that is far more deep and complicated than I would have expected. The entire first story arc feels like its building a familiar dynamic with a basic rival, a possible love interest and a new purpose for the once loner character… and Pak just tosses that aside and takes the character in a completely different direction.

There is a unique feel to Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, that anything can happen and that we are on unfamiliar ground here… the same feeling I got and enjoyed from Planet Hulk. For more on the series go to http://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?CAT=DF-Turok

Magnus04CovIncenSegoviaI moved on to the second released series, Magnus: Robot Fighter. The reigns for this futuristic sci-fi series were put in the hands of Archer & Armstrong scribe Fred Van Lente and artist Cory Smith. This series takes a man who is living a perfect life, rips him out of his façade and throws him into a world where he is a hunted fugitive. If Turok is Conan, then Magnus is Total Recall. Magnus is rudely pulled out of a crafted lie and into a world where robots rule and he is the fly in the ointment. It has the feel of a 90s science fiction movie as well. Big action but also that media driven angle that was big at the time. It's also interesting to follow a character that you can see everyone knows is more than what he appears but you can also tell he's even more than that.

The first few issue of Magnus: Robot Fighter feels like the climb of a roller coaster, we are definitely building toward something and it's going to be fast and furious once we get there. For more on the series go to: http://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?CAT=DF-Magnus

Solar06-Cov-SubscriptLauThe third series released was Solar: Man Of The Atom and this is the closest to a superhero title that you've got in the bunch. The previously named Doctor Solar is being handled this time by New Avengers writer Frank J. Barbiere and Iron Man artist Joe Bennett. In this series Solar is an established and enigmatic hero that goes through some major problems both internally and enemies wise. Which wouldn't be too bad except he dies and passes his powers on to his daughter. Yet he somehow he is still able to communicate with her. Oh, and all his villains seem to key in on his energy signal… which is now hers. Of the three titles so far Solar has one of the most unique set ups but with only three issues out so far it doesn't feel like we've gotten anywhere yet. But I'll definitely stick around to see what's next.

Solar: Man Of The Atom is taking longer to build its base, but I think it has the potential for the biggest payoff, explosive stories and some of the strongest character moments. For more information on this series go to:  http://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?CAT=DF-Solar

Spektor01-Cov-WardThe last series to kick off is Doctor Spektor: Master Of The Occult. Probably the least known character of the four, as he was not brought into the Valiant/Acclaim universe as the other were. He is definitely a product of the 70s in the same vein as Kolchak the Nightstalker or Marvel's horror comics of the same era. In the take by Mark Waid and Neil Edwards, Adam Spektor is a celebrated reality star who deals with the occult while millions watch. Unlike most of the paranormal investigators we see on TV, Spektor is real as are the monsters he hunts. Only two issue have come out so far and unlike the others that seem to exist in their own worlds, this one ties the four books together into one existence. At this point though the series doesn't seem to have a direction or give you a sense of what you are going to see down the line. This is the wait and see part of the relaunch.

Doctor Spektor: Master Of The Occult is a breadcrumb book. It's given you little bits here and there to keep you following along but you're not quite sure why you are yet. But I have faith in Waid to make it worth my wile to keep going. For more on the series go to: http://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?CAT=DF-Doctor_Spektor_Master_of_The_Occult

Overall, the four books are good reads and they get better with each issue. Issue four is what sold me on both Turok and Magnus, so I'm hoping issue four of the other two series will do the same and I expect they will. The nice thing here, like with Valiant current line of books, you can sit down and read a connected, cohesive universe of characters without needing to buy forty titles a month and hire a guide.

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About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.
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