Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Moon Beast

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...

"Moon Beast"
Warlord #103 (March 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Penciled by Jerry Bingham, Inked by Pablo Marcos

Synopsis: Morgan rides through a town’s empty streets under unusual darkness—one of the rare eclipses of the Skartarian sun caused by its erratic moon.  Suddenly, a white tiger jumps at him, knocking him from his horse.  As he grapples with the beast, he notices something unusual about his eyes, but he doesn't really have much time to think about that with its jaws near his face. Morgan is saved from certain death when the moon moves away and daylight returns.  Somehow, the light drives the beast away, but Morgan has loses consciousness and can’t consider it further.

Elsewhere, Machiste and Mariah come upon a ferry at a river crossing. The ferryman seems curious about who they are and where they’re going.  Machiste (a little suspicious) says they’re horse traders.  He was right to be suspicious, because as our heroes sit unaware, men emerge from hiding:

In the brawl that follows, Mariah and Machiste are pitched overboard—after killing most of their attackers. The ferryman gleefully contemplates having the whole reward for himself.  Despite his prediction that they’ll drown in the current, Mariah and Machiste manage to cling to a dead tree, only to be swept over a waterfall.  They jump to safety, grabbing an overhanging branch.

Far away, a young woman named Tamara wakes up in her room in a manse.  She’s had that nightmare again—and she has dried blood under her fingernails.  She recalls there was a man…

Morgan awakens surrounded by townsfolk. As he staggers to his horse, one guy fills him in on what’s been going on:

Morgan’s got no time for a detour. He rides toward the citadel.

“Half a day” (whatever that means in Skartaris) later, N’Dosma the would-be usurper in Kiro, gets word that Machiste, the rightful king, is apparently dead. He sends word back that he needs proof before he pays. 
He and his conspirators can’t openly seize power until they are sure.

Meanwhile, Morgan has scaled the outside of the manse/citadel, and onto the balcony of what happens to be Tamara’s boudoir.  He notices she’s wearing the same sort of collar as the tiger than attack him.  She recognizes him, too.  When he tells her about the cat and the collar, she realizes what’s happened to her.  It turns out her uncle has some crazy and misogynistic ideas:

He used to kidnap women and subject them to his elixirs and philtres, turning them into various kinds of cats. The townsfolk didn’t take to well to this and stormed his mansion.  All the transformed victims got free, and Tamara and her uncle had to flee to this new residence.

Supposedly, his experiments ceased.  He did start putting Tamara in a trance and having her stare into a strange prism so he could study “fractionalizing moonlight.”  He even gave her a collar like he used to identify his previous subjects and she thought it was merely “an eccentric gift.”

Her uncle bursts in with some cronies and they capture Morgan.  He awakens chained to a wall. Her uncle’s going to try his prism experiment on a man. 

He begins the ritual to call out the beast in Morgan. Morgan pulls with all his strength and wrenches his shackles from the way. 

He beats the henchmen with the chains, but Tamara’s uncle has snatched up a crossbow.

Before he can fire, Tamar bursts in a tiger form (she exposed herself to moonlight to try to save Morgan) and leaps on her uncle.  They both topple through an open window.

The next day, Morgan meets Shakira on the trail. He notices how much her collar resembles the one Tamara wore.  He impulsively takes it off her and tosses it to the ground.

Things to Notice:   
  • This issue is branded as a continuation of "Morgan's Quest."
  • Poor Tamara seems far to trusting of her crazy uncle.
Where it Comes From:
The evil scientist (or sorcerer) trope goes back to The Island of Doctor Moreau. The title of this issue may have been inspired by the (horrible) 1976 film Track of the Moon Beast, but nothing else about the issue seems to have been.  The "hypnosis turns a woman into a monster" but may come from the 1956 film The She-Creature.

For the evil uncle's plan to work, Skartaris's wandering moon needs to be somewhat predictable.  This runs counter to its original presentation back in issue #47.

The possible origin presented for Shakira in this issue seems hard to square with hints we've got before. Particularly, her tears upon viewing ancient Atlantean civilization back in issue #44

1 comment:

The Angry Lurker said...

Good story, parts of it remind me of some of David Gemell's Drenai stories.