Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Warlord Wednesday: Have a Nice Day!

Even in Hawaii it's Wednesday...Let's re-enter the lost world with another installment of my issue by issue examination of DC Comic's Warlord, the earlier installments of which can be found here...

"Have a Nice Day!"
Warlord (vol. 1) #55 (February 1982)

Written by Mike Grell (Sharon Grell); Penciled by Mark Texiera; Inked by Mike DeCarlo

Synopsis:Morgan, Tara, and Shakira ride toward Shamballah. They’re enjoying the warmth of Skartaris’ eternal sun after their time in the Terminator. Morgan guides them toward the merchant road which will run through the kingdom of Kaambuka, ruled by his friend, Ashir, on its way to Shamballah.

Coming over a rise, they’re surprised to see a full-scale battle going on. Troops laying seige to a fortress throw themselves against it and, again and again, are turned back. Morgan’s in for another surprise when he sees that the defeated army is under the command of Ashir!

They quicken their pace to catch up with him. Ashir greets them, and promises to tell them what’s going back in his palace, over wine.

Later, Morgan fills Ashir in on what has happened since they last met. Ashir asks if Morgan is finally giving up the adventuring life to go back to Shamballah with Tara. By way of an of answer, Morgan reminds Ashir that he gave it up. Morgan changes the subject to Ashir’s recent troubles.

Ashir tells him a gang of bandits seized control of that watchtower they were at earlier. Sitting on the trade route as it does, the bandits have been able to use their position to exact tribute from all the merchants passing through. The result is that trade has been disrupted, and the merchants are looking for other routes. Ashir’s forces have made three attempts to retake the fortress, but each time they've been repulsed.

At that moment, a servant girl brings in Tara and Shakira, who were apparently found fighting in the courtyard. Ashir tries to sweet-talk each in turn and gets rebuffed by both ladies. Ashir makes a second try at Shakira while Morgan talks to Tara. He tells her he’s got to help Ashir one last time, then he’s done. Just one more time. Tara acquiesces.

As Morgan and Ashir walk off arm in arm to plan, Shakira confronts Tara:

Later, Morgan and Ashir ride at the head of the army returning to the fortress. Ashir asks Morgan if he’s sure this plan will work. Morgan assures him “this one’s in the books...sort of.” Ashir wonders, as well, what the runes mean. Morgan’s answer is cryptic.

The bandit guardsman in the tower is surprised by what he sees left at the fortress’ gate:

The bandit leader is uncertain what to make of it. He supposes its a peace offering of some sort. Someone suggests they take it inside, but a door on it raises the possibility men may hide inside. The bandits decide to burn it instead.

They set it ablaze. The whole gang has quite a time watching, and perhaps ridiculing the hapless men that might have been hiding inside. So good in fact, they don’t pay attention to the backdoor of the fortress--and that’s where Morgan and Ashir’s forces strike. When the leader and the majority of his force come running back, they find the fortress has already fallen into their enemies hands.

After the bandit's defeat, Tara and Morgan make ready to leave Kaambuka, but Shakira decides to stay behind. She says (cryptically) that she’s seen Shamballah at the height of its glory, and she has no desire to see it otherwise. Tara and Morgan bid their friends good-bye.

On the way back to Shamballah, they pass the burned out place of the woodcutter who helped Morgan warn Shamballah of the Theran invasion. Bodies litter the ground, and Morgan summarizes the retreating Therans must have exacted revenge. Morgan is sure the man’s family had gotten out safe, he recalls the man had a son--not knowing the man’s adopted son was his own son, Joshua.

Morgan and Tara enter Shamballah’s gates to cheering crowds. In the crowd, is a young, red-haired boy wearing a curious armlet--a wrist watch...

Things to Notice:
  • Texiera's version of Ashir wears armor.
  • Is Ashir really hitting on Tara right in front of Morgan? 
  • Again we get a reference to Shakira's familiarity with Skartaris' past.
Where It Comes From:
The title of this issue relates to a ubiqitous phrase of the seventies--particularly when associated with the smiley face.  Wikipedia has an overview here.  Morgan's knowledge of the classic smiley and its association with the phrase is an anachronism given that he's been in Skartaris since the sixties.  Bernard and Murray Spain didn't put the two together on various novelties until 1972.  Maybe he saw it on his brief visit to Machu Picchu?

The history of the smiley face as a symbol is also well-covered on Wikipedia--though no mention is made of Trojan smilies.

Morgan's trick is, of course, inspired by the Trojan horse used by the Greeks during the seige of Troy in Homer's Illiad.  Besides the shape of wooden device being different, Morgan also (wisely) chooses not to climb inside his Trojan Smiley. 

The Trojan rabbit sequence from Monty Python and the Holy Grail also gets referenced.  Texiera's rendition of the guardsman who first sights the smiley face looks a fair bit like the taunting French knight from that film.


Chris Creel said...

Is it Wednesday already? I just discovered this past weekend that DC had restarted the Warlord comic about 2 years ago, so I picked up #1. I haven't read it yet though.

The Angry Lurker said...

A Trojan smiley face, good story but weird.

Pierce said...

Ha, that's an interesting spin on the Trojan horse gambit. good stuff all around.

Trey said...

Yeah, this indeed an off-beat sort of issue, but not bad.

@Chris - There were two recent Warlord series but most recent one (the one I think you're talking about) was written by Grell and is pretty good. Perhaps not as good as the best issues of the original run, but its a nice capstone on the series.

Trey said...

Oops! Forgot to update the cover. It's fixed now.

Chris Creel said...

Yes, the comic I found is the series that includes Mike Grell. I'm sure I'll read it this weekend.