"This Savage World"
Warlord (vol. 1) #1 (January-February 1976)
Written and Illustrated by Mike Grell
Synopsis: In the jungles of Skartaris, Morgan trains in use of the sword with Tara. He recalls the events that led to this point--giving a recap of 1st Issue Special #8. After completing their practice, the two continue their journey to Tara's home city of Shamballah. Morgan tries (again) to explain to Tara about the hollow earth, but she still doesn't believe him. In their travels they glimpse a coffle of slaves being taken to Bal Shazar, and Tara is mesmerized by a satyr--who Morgan knocks out with one punch. Unfortunately, the smoke of their campfire draws the slave raiders, and the are ambushed. Tara and Morgan are chained with the other slaves and marched out across the desert. Unwilling to give up, Morgan begins to saw through Tara's slave collar with the titanium chain of his dog tags. After some time, he manages to free her, but not before they're noticed by the guards. Tara is able to escape on horseback, while Morgan fights off the slavers. Eventually, he's brought down by a blow to the back of his skull. When he regains consconsciousness, he's tied hanging from a tree by his arms, where the angry slavemaster leaves him to die.
Things to Notice:
- The recap gives the name of the Theran king (Baldur) which wasn't given last issue.
- Neither Tara or Morgan understand gravity. Tara has no conception of it, and Morgan gets it wrong.
- The leader of the slavers wears a winged helm much like the one Morgan will eventually adopt.
- The worst invective Vietnam vet Travis Morgan can hurl at the slaver who just crucified him is "stick it in your ear!"
Tara and Morgan are on their way to Tara's home city of Shamballah. The name comes from the Tibetian Buddhist tradition, where it came to be seen as a earthly paradise of sorts. It enters into the Western occult lore through the theosophist writings of HP Blavatsky. Grell probably encountered it in the Three Dog Night song of the same name ("Shambala") from 1975.
Tara's Skartarian cosmological mythology snippet is a nice bit of color. Her giant is the Skartarian equivalent of Atlas, the titan who held up the heavens from Greek mythology. The Atlas Mountains of North (western) Africa are named for him. The name of Tara's giant is "Ashanti" which is the name of a Western African ethnic group, who ruled a pre-colonial empire in what is now Ghana.
The slavers and their hapless captives are on their way to another Skartarian city, Bal Shazar--which is only a slight modification of Belshazzar (Akkadian Bal-sarra-usur meaning "Bel (lord) protect the king"), the name of a prince of Babylon according to the Old Testament Book of Daniel. Grell probably uses it for its ancient Middle Eastern sort of sound which fits thematically with the slave coffle's trek across the desert.