Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Warlord Wednesday: By Ice and Fire (part 2)

Continuing with the 50th issue, let's re-enter the lost world with my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"By Ice and Fire"
Warlord (vol. 1) #50 (October 1981)

Written and Illustrated by Mike Grell; inked by Bob Smith

Synopsis: When we last left Skartaris, Deimos had just opened a portal for an audience with the Evil One of the Age of Wizard Kings. Deimos begs a boon of the diabolic appearing sorcerer. The Evil One wants to know what’s in it for him. Deimos tells him he’ll give him anything if he’ll restore his body, alive and whole. A deal is stuick, and Deimos is restored.

At that moment, Mungo, Mairah, and Machiste rush in to confront the Evil One. The Evil One, still new to his powers, feels himself slipping in the face of Mungo sorcerous onslaught, so:

After taking Deimos’ power as per the deal, he banishes the former demon priest so he can focus on the fight. Now that Sarrgon is freed and joining his power to Mungo’s, the Evil One quickly decides it might be better to stage a strategic retreat, and flies out of the castle.

Deimos arrives back in the Skartarian present, bemoaning the cruel trick played upon him.  The Evil One's mocking laughter (somehow) fills his ears. Ashiya, also getting her jabs in, shows him the Warlord and his band approaching in his crystal ball. Deimos, ever smooth, tries to get Ashiya to help him in exchange for making her a queen. Ashiya just laughs at his transparent change of heart, and tells him the truth--she spirited away Morgan’s real son. It was the clone he killed. Then she disappears, leaving him to his fate.

Deimos isn’t defeated yet. He still holds Jennifer, and he has his Atlantean technology. When Morgan and his friends ride boldly into the castle, they’re unaware Deimos has them in his gun sights--until he blasts Aton out of the saddle.

Deimos (dressed like some sort of space viking) has them pinned down with his energy rifle--all except Morgan, who draws his own pistol and goes for him, dodging and weaving between what cover he can find. When he gets close enough for a showdown, he finds Deimos has another surprise. The priest has Jennifer!

He demands Morgan step out into the open, and Morgan does so. Before he can kill him, Faaldren attacks, trying to save Jennifer who he has come to see as a friend. Deimos blasts Faaldren, but the distraction gives Morgan an opening, and he fires:

Deimos is blasted off the parapet, but he recovers quickly. He snatches a horse from Shakira and rides out of the castle.

Morgan runs down to check on his friends. Tara is only shaken, but loyal Aton lies dead. Morgan tells his mate he’s going after Deimos. Shakira wants to go with him, but Morgan tells her to stay behind and look after Jennifer (who’s still catatonic) and Tara. Morgan leaps astride his horse:

Morgan rides north toward the arctic, and into the cold wastes. He’s so driven in his purpose that he pushes his horse to death. Undeterred, he continues on foot, until he finds Deimos set upon by a pack of wolves. With a cry of denial, he rushes to his foe’s aid and either kills or drives off the wolves.

Unwilling to let Deimos die by any hand but his own, Morgan drags him to an old ship half-buried in the snows. He builds a fire, wraps Deimos in blankets and waits. Outside, the wolf pack reforms, and waits, as well.

When Deimos’ eyes open, Morgan’s harden. He stands:

Deimos shrinks away in fear. Behind Morgan, a wolf enters the ship. Morgan smiles. He holsters his gun, then waves good-bye to Deimos. He pauses only to kick the fire out before walking out into the night. Behind him, the wolf pack sets upon Deimos. Morgan doesn’t look back.

Things to Notice:
  • The last three pages are "silent"--without dialogue or sound effects.
  • Morgan and Tara never have any idea of the involvement of their time-lost friends Mariah and Machiste in events.
  • In lieu of a letter column, this issue featured short synopses of every issue of Warlord up to this point.
Where It Comes From:
The title of this issue brings to mind the place of Deimos' death, but also might refer to the state of Morgan's emotions as he hunts his hated foe, only to leave him to fate rather than kill him himself.

This issue feels like the culmination, both plotwise and thematically, of many things going on in Warlord for sometime.  Morgan and Tara return to the place of their last struggle (at least as a couple) with Deimos.  Again they come to save one of their children--though they're unaware of that.  This time, there's a possiblity that Morgan will have his family restored rather than losing it.  However, the final image of him walking alone in the night snows doesn't seem particularly hopeful.

Another funny parallel is that canines again play a role again in Deimos' demise. 


The Angry Lurker said...

This is better than reading the comic, thanks.

Pierce said...

Morgan is pretty hardcore.

Zombiecowboy said...

I think Im going to have to look into trying to find these.

Pierce said...

Yeah, still thinking about that, Morgan is pretty ruthless, Don't F with him.

Trey said...

You're right about that, Pierce. Still, forcing a man to kill his infant son artificially aged to adulthood in one-on-one combat, is calling down the thunder for sure. ;)

@Lurker - Thanks! Though I think the pictures are prettier reading it.

@Zombiecowboy - It's good stuff.