Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Warlord Wednesday: The Mark

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...

"The Mark"
Warlord (vol. 1) #67 (March 1983)
Written by Mike Grell (Sharon Grell); Penciled by Dan Jurgens; Inked by Mike deCarlo

Synopsis: In Mungo Ironhand’s castle in Wizard World (the high magic past of Skartaris) Jennifer is trying to cure Rostov’s lycanthropy (but having no luck) while the rest of our heroes watch. Morgan and Mungo busy themselves drinking martinis.

Suddenly, Rostov (in wolfman form) bursts free from the magical energy that bound him and goes after Jennifer. Machiste and Morgan are unable to restrain him. Jennifer, unphased by the snarling manbeast right in front of her, casts a spell that somehow blocks the moon's power and returns Rostov to human form.

Jennifer decides that understanding the origins of his curse might help her cure it. She pulls shard of crystal from a small chest of Mungo’s. They can use it to look into his past.

Mikhail Ivanov Rostov, a Cossack, happens upon a gypsy camp where he sees a girl, Gitana, dancing. It’s love at first sight. The problem is Gitana is the woman of Ostrap, a man with a fondness for handle-bar moustaches and pink clothes.

So it’s a duel with sabers over a pit of snarling wolves. Mikhail makes quick work of his rival. He swoops up the swooning Gitana, carries her off to her wagon, and (in a bit of Comics Code approved raciness):

“The smell of blood mingled with the scent of perfume…And in that night they both knew love for the first time.”

There are trials ahead for the lovers. Mikhail is shot in the back by an angry gypsy. He’s near death, but Gitana performs a magical ritual to save his life. She must use the blood of a wolf to sustain him.

Mikhail recovers, and the two are wed. Soon Gitana is pregnant. When their twins are born, they discover that the magic she used to save him had a price:

Mikhail snatches up the bestial child and takes it out into the snow. He raises it above his head to throw if off a cliff, but he can’t go through with it. Holding the child close, he jumps himself.

Gitana is left with her one surviving infant—a girl. Rostov is the descendant of that girl and inherited (according to Jennifer) the “chromosome imbalance” leading to lycanthropy.

Things to Notice:
  • Mungo yet again shows he has some source of knowledge on modern earth for his "humorous" references.
  • The events in "the present" of Skartaris are really only a frame for the sort of gothic romance tale.
  • The panels in the story of Gitana and Mikhail often have a tattered parchment sort of border.
Where It Comes From:
This is issue is sort of a gothic romance.  In keeping with that feel, Mikhail Rostov seems to bear a resemblance to the werewolf Quentin Collins in the gothic soap Dark Shadows (1966-1971):

"Gitana" is a Spanish word meaning "female Gypsy." Gypsies are, of course, another gothic staple.


JimShelley said...

Interesting the similarities between Rostov and Collins. I was thinking Timber Wolf, but I think your match makes better sense given the story.

The Grumpy Celt said...

So I recently received a copy of Justice League Unlimited on DVD and there is an episode featuring the Warlord, "Chaos at the Earth's Core." The episode is a lot of fun.

This comment is only partly unrelated to your posting.

Trey said...

@Grumpy Celt - Well, it is Warlord related--and I did talk about that very episode a couple of weeks ago. :)

Cousin Barnabas (The Creep) said...

There are odd Dark Shadows echoes all over comics, especially in the X-Men. I have to believe Chris Claremont saw more than a few episodes of the show ... Dark Shadows did a "Days of Future Past" story years before X-Men did, and the Hellfire Club looked like the were ripped from one of the show's time travel stories. Dark Shadows and X-Men also had characters named "Sebastian Shaw," only the Dark Shadows character was a psychic.

Trey said...

I think Claremont was watching a lot of TV in those days. The costumes (both the male ones and the female fetish ones) seem drawn from the episode of The Avengers "A Touch of Brimstone."