Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Warlord Wednesday: Duel of the Titans

Here's another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"Duel of the Titans"
Warlord (vol. 1) #4 (December 1976-January 1977)

Written and Illustrated by Mike Grell

Synopsis: In the palace of Thera, Deimos gloats over his captive, Tara.  A guard rushes in to warn him of an attack--which a cannonball through crashing through the wall emphasizes.  Morgan and his army have arrived. 

Using siege equipment Morgan taught them how to build, his army is overruning the Theran forces.  Deimos is pleased, however, as he's counted on Tara being bait to draw Morgan to him.  Using the mysterious scrolls of blood he conjures up a giant, demonic creature.  When the creature begins to turn the tide of battle, Machiste suggests retreat.  Morgan instead climbs a seige tower to shoot Deimos, but the villain is using Tara as a shield, so he shoots the strange device from which the demon materialized.  The demon dissipates as the device shatters.  Morgan uses the self-destruct device from his plane, set off by a shot from his pistol, to blow open Thera's gates.  Morgan's army takes the city, and Morgan cuts through all who oppose him to get to Deimos. 

He finds his nemesis attempting to flee with Tara still captive.  Desperate, Deimos challenges Morgan to a duel for his freedom.  Over Tara's objections, Morgan agrees.  Morgan has them fight in darkness, and Deimos draws first blood, but Morgan's fury carries the day, and he kills Deimos with one blow.  The tyrant slain, Tara and Morgan plan to return to Shamballah, but Morgan urges his army to continue the fight for freedom.  Ignored by the victors, the tome known as the scrolls of blood lies next to Deimos' body.  Its cover reveals it to be the technical manual for a solid hologram projector.

Things to Notice:
  • The deity Deimos served as high priest was the sun god.
  • Deimos has apparently read Dante's Divine Comedy, or either he (and Dante) have actually been to the gates of hell.
  • Despite the Skartarians having weapons suggestive of at least a Medieval European level of technology, they've never invented siege equipment dating from several centuries BCE in the outer world.
  • Again Morgan foils Deimos' plans with a well-placed bullet through a technological device.
Where It Comes From:
This issue's title likely comes from the American title of a 1961 sword and sandal film (Italian title: Romolo e Remo) directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott. Corbucci is better known for his Spaghetti Westerns, with Django (1966) probably being the most famous. Reeves is best known as Hercules in Italian sword and sandal films, while Scott played Tarzan in five films and three episodes of an aborted TV series.

Deimos' quote ("Abandon all hope, ye who enter here") is a common translation of the Italian phrase "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate," which is the inscription over the gates of Hell in the Inferno section of Dante Alighieri's fourteenth-century epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

Deimos' use of the scrolls of blood demonstrates Clarke's Third Law: "a sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Apparent magic actually turning out to be ancient technology is a common pulp fiction trope.

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