Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Warlord Wednesday: Land of the Titans

It's Hump Day in Skartaris! Time to 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...

"Land of the Titans"
Warlord (vol. 1) #32 (April 1980)

Written and Pencilled by Mike Grell; Inked by Vince Colletta

Synopsis: We find our hero just where we left him last issue: on a beach, awakening to find himself at the feet of two menacing-looking, ruddy-skinned, giants (roughly twice Morgan’s height) in hoplite-ish sort of garb. They grab an astonished Morgan by the arms to take him captive, but Morgan executes a remarkable gymnastic kick and gives his captor two boots to the eyes.

The first giant drops Morgan, giving him time to pull his sword. As the second moves in with a spear, Morgan throws his sword through the giant’s jugular, killing him. Morgan’s turned his back on the first though, who uses that opportunity to incapacitate our hero with a “crackling bolt of sinister energy” from a futuristic device.

The giant dumps Morgan onto a disc-shaped flying platform and takes him to a nearby city. He uses the futuristic device again at a different setting to “stimulate” Morgan to consciousness. He awakens to an audience with the beautiful (and giant), Queen Amarant of the Titans, who’s none too pleased that he’s killed one of their race:

Morgan starts to protest, but a blow to the back of his head stifles his rebuttal. The queen has him taken away until she decides how to kill him.

Morgan wakes up to a pretty face looking down at him. The face goes with a pretty (and non-giant) fur-clad female form. This is Shakira. She came to help Morgan because she heard he killed one of the titans, and she could use a warrior like him to help her escape. She thinks that they can get around the few traitorous slaves that act as guards and steal one of the titan’s flying discs.

Morgan’s wary, but Shakira seems to offering the only available option. After overpowering one guard, the two make their way stealthily to where the titans manufacture their weapons. As they steal across the room on a catwalk, they’re discovered by another slave who calls out in alarm. The titans begin firing their weapons at the two. One stands in their path at the end of the walk. Morgan delivers a flying kick to the titan’s chest, knocking him over the railing, and into the machinery on the manufacturing floor.

Slaves are coming at them from the other end of the catwalk. Morgan picks up the axe of the fallen titan, and kills them all, but the melee has given time for a titan to draw a bead on Morgan with his weapon. Lightning fast, Morgan pivots and throws the axe. The blade strikes home--but too late to keep the titan from pulling the trigger.

Bound and defeated, Morgan and Shakira are brought before Queen Amarant. She plans to execute Morgan for the murder of half her race. Morgan gives her a lecture on how her kind are unjustly subjugating the humans, but she backhands him and orders him to silence.

Shakira begs the queen to leave Morgan alone. The queen says Shakira was always her favorite, but since she’s chosen to side with Morgan she can share his fate. The two are sent to the arena.

Their weapons are returned, and they need them, because they find themselves facing an angry woolly rhinoceros. The two battle the beast, but Morgan is injured, and becomes an easy target for a charge. Shakira interposes herself, distracting the animal and leading it to charge the arena wall. She vaults over the beast on her spear, and its charge destroys the wall, just under where Amarant sits. Queen and beast are both dead.

Morgan and Shakira use the ensuing chaos to make their escape. The two remaining titans try to stop them, and their race is consigned to extinction. The now-freed slaves flee in terror. In the wake of the battle, Morgan and Shakira stop to consider the fallen Amarant.

Morgan points out the titans might have done great things, if they hadn’t tried to be gods. Shakira replies that people will make what gods they will. She will mourn the death of Amarant a bit. She was always well cared for, but the queen tried to bend Shakira to her will, and that she couldn’t tolerate. “It’s my nature to be independent,” she tells Morgan--and startles him by transforming into a cat.

The two newly minted travelling companions fly away on one of the discs.

Things to Notice:
  • The titans are given a pinkish skin-tone sometimes used for Native Americans in old comics--and sometimes for Barsoomians, too.
  • Morgan gets knocked unconscious.  Again.
  • Shakira, as is her wont, wears furry ankle socks.
Where It Comes From:
This issue is very pulpy with its lost island with dying race of giants with advanced technology, but I'm unsure of any specific inspirations.

Amarant, queen of the Titans, derives her name from the herb amaranth, or amarant, meaning "unwithering" in Greek.  Mythology associates amarant with immortality--an ironic association for the queen given the events of this issue.

The real importance of this issue is in it being the first appearance of Shakira, who becomes Morgan's long time companion.  Shakira is an Arabic name meaning "thankful."  The character was inspired by Isis, the woman and cat, who is a companion to Gary Seven in the 1968 Star Trek original series episode (and backdoor pilot) "Assignment Earth."

In cat form, Isis was shown perched on Gary Seven's shoulders much in the same way Shakira will later ride Morgan's.

Note the collar motif, too, just like Shakira.

Isis was played by Victoria Vetri, who also starred in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970).  Despite the hair and costume color difference, one wonders if Vetri's appearance here combined with her roll as Isis were influential on the look of Shakira.  She's even got the spear Shakira also sports on the issue's cover.

Not quite from when dinosaurs ruled the earth, but still prehistoric, the creature Morgan and Shakira encounter in the titans' arena appears to be a Pleistocene native, Coelodonta antiquitatis, otherwise known as the woolly rhinocerous.


Unknown said...

I remember the comic but I've never seen anything of the Gary 7 show. Pity. It would be interesting if given a modern twist.

Jimmy Simpson said...

Gary 7 was in the 2nd or 3rd season episode of the original Star Trek called Assignment: Earth. It also had an early appearance by Teri Garr.

Unknown said...

Oh, I know the story but some how I never saw that episode. I had not see those pics either until they were posted here.

migellito said...

Gary Seven is a great character. He and Isis made an enigmatic appearance in my Traveller game once :)

GarySeven said...

Gary Seven was a great character and Assignment:Earth a cool concept. Pity wasn't a real show. shows my concept of what it might have been like.