Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Temple of the Demigods

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...

"Temple of the Demigods"
Warlord #101 (January 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Penciled by Adam Kubert, Inked Pablo Marcos

Synopsis: Mariah, Machiste, and Tara stand at the now mysteriously aged Jennifer’s bedside.  They helpfully fill us in on events since last issue. Morgan has decided that Jennifer’s malady was the result of mystical spillover from Cykroth, and has headed off to find a warlock he’s been told might be able to help.

On his journey, Morgan has already run into trouble. He’s ambushed by a group of Vashek assassins—now cut loose with the defeat of their master. Morgan dispatches them all not before taking an arrow in the shoulder, himself.  After tending the wound, he rides on.

Arriving at the warlock’s abode, Morgan finds him to be a bit unusual even by Skartarian magical practitioner standards:

The warlock (Muldahara) thinks he can help, but he wants Morgan to steal a “pair of lovely baubles” called the Eyes of Arachnar (or “Ankanar” as it appears the rest of the issue) for him.  Morgan (oddly given his former behavior) is iffy about stealing from a temple, but Muldahara assures him this is a bad cult that strong-arms the people.  Morgan agrees.

Arriving at the temple, he climbs it and enters through an open window.  In case he needed proof of their badness, he overhears a group of priests gloating about robbing the peasantry.  He makes his way to the treasure room:

Then, Morgan notices two saddlebags brimming with gold.  The implication of that only begins to dawn as the garrote slips around his throat.  The Warlord doesn’t go down that easy!  He throws the assailant:

They briefly tussle until she realizes Morgan must be a thief like her.  She suggests they split the take and get out quick. 

They aren’t quick enough as a priest arrives.  The thief puts a bola around his neck, but he’s still able to mumble an incantation as they’re gathering treasure.  The idol undergoes a startling transformation:

Morgan whips out his pistol, but it turns out Ankanar is immune to normal weapons.  The thief has heard the creature will only go dormant again after it’s devoured a human soul.  Luckily, it’s not picky as to where that soul comes from.  The thief drop kicks a priest into its jaws.  Ankanar turns back into a statue again.

The two thieves grab up some treasure and make a break for it, the understandably irate priests at their heels. Morgan shoots a chandelier, dropping it on their pursuers. The thieves climb out the window and make it to their horses.  They go their separate ways, but not before:

Morgan takes the eyes of Ankanar to the warlock—who promptly makes them into earrings. When Morgan tries to claim his payment, it turns out the Muldahara misled him.  He can’t actually help Jennifer—but he quickly adds he knows who can: V’Zarr Hagar-Zinn, wizard and surviving member of an ancient race. He dwells in the House of the Celestials on the shores of the Greenfire Sea.

Morgan heads out, promising to come back and see Muldahara if he has lied.  The warlock watches him go:

Morgan returns to Shamballah only long enough to say good bye to his wife and daughter before he’s off on his quest.

Things to Notice:   
  • This issue sports a Grell cover just like the last.
  • Mariah seems really broken up about Jennifer's condition. She's the only one crying.
  • Shakira is no where to be seen in this issue.
Where it Comes From:
Looking for a magical practitioner with knowledge, only to be sent on a quest to steal something from a temple is the same plot as Warlord #16.  There, the practitioner was Saaba, and the child Morgan was trying to save was Joshua. Morgan has qualms about robbing a temple in this issue and justifies it to himself with the knowledge the priests are thieves, themselves.  He expressed no such reservations when he stole the eye (and again the eye!) from the Tree People's idol in the aforementioned issue.

The blonde thief in this issue fills a role (at least for one issue) not dissimilar to Bashir (in terms of thieving, not flirting with Morgan), who disappeared completely when Fleisher took over.


Porky said...

Maybe Morgan did some reflecting between the two temples? I'd hope it wasn't just the writers taking it easy, but part of a fuller and maybe less obvious arc.

I have to say, I am more interested in this series after yesterday's interview.

Trey said...

That might well be how we can explain it. I think in the real world we can lay it at the feet of changing times and changing authors. This story was written about a decade later, where editors and the new writer may have had less pulpy ideas about heroic behavior.

I'm glad that got you interested.