Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Warlord Wednesday: All Men Are Mine

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...

"All Men Are Mine"
Warlord (vol. 1) #14 (August-September 1978)

Written and Illustrated by Mike Grell

Synopsis: Machiste and Mariah keep a worried vigil at the side of an unconscious Morgan. The events of last issue left Morgan weak from loss of blood, and infection has set in. Despite her best efforts with Stryker's first aid get, Mariah worries that Morgan is dying.

Within the depths of his perhaps-fevered mind, Morgan finds himself falling through darkness. Then, in some sort of cave, he encounters a woman shrouded in shadow who calls to him in a sultry voice "with a touch of fire and ice." The woman calls him beloved and says she has been his companion since before he came to Skartaris--when he was hunting as a boy in Wyoming, and when he was flying missions over Vietnam. She says he has served well as her champion, but now she beckons him to her embrace, offering "the sweet blackness of eternal sleep."

She is Death.

Morgan, sword raised, snarls at her to stay away. Death, seemingly stung by his refusal, repeats that she offers him release from the suffering and give him a place in the Hall of Heroes. Though he acknowledges that life brings pain and anguish, he still refuses--violently--as he tries to run her through.

Death is unfazed, and calls him a fool. She can be tender or terrible, she reminds him. And life can be terrible, too. Her touch on his sword sends a chill through it that sends Morgan reeling. Her blasts of "nether energy" drop him into a realm of nightmare. He battles demonic creatures at overwhelming odds, but he still refuses to take her hand and the succor she offers.

Next, he finds himself hanging on a torture rack in a dungeon. Still Morgan rejects her embrace. Death asks why, and Morgan's only reply is to scream out the name "Tara." Spurned for another woman, Death tells him to go and suffer hardships and agony, but promises that one day he will cry for her kiss. Morgan denies that, and flippantly says he's got things to do other than think about that--but he'll see her around.

Death replies that indeed he will. "In the end," Death reminds him, "all men are mine."

No sooner is that admonition given, than Morgan awakens, much to relief of his two companions.

Things to Notice:
  • Again, the cover bears little relationship to the events of the issue. It does look a lot like DC horror covers of the Bronze Age
Where It Comes From:
The conflict with Death in this issue seems part of the general Bronze Age comic tradition--compare Starlin's portrayal of Death in Captain Marvel, and numerous DC horror and war comics, which of course in influenced by a host of other media.

The physical appearance of Death is a bit of a depature from the usual. Despite the traditional Grim Reaper on the cover, death is a voluptuous Skartarian woman in the issue, with some Indian flourishes to her attire. In fact, given her belt of skulls, Grell may have been inspired the Indian goddess Kali, who often similarly accessorizes:

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