Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Warlord Wednesday: Gambit

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...

Warlord (vol. 1) #35 (July 1980)

Written and Pencilled by Mike Grell; Inked by Vince Colletta

Synopsis: We open where we left our heroes last time: Morgan is about to bid farewell to Mariah, Machiste, Mungo Ironhand, and the Age of Wizard Kings, and use the hellfire sword to return to Skartaris. Morgan is indeed transported out of Wizard World, but instead of Skartaris he finds himself in some body's 20th-Century Earth living room, in what he intuits to be (perhaps) New Jersey.

Morgan doesn’t have a lot of time to consider this strange development, because an armored woman named Agnes announces her presence and declares her intention to battle the mighty Warlord. Morgan is dubious, but Agnes attacks, so he’s forced to fight back. The two fight there way into a den. Morgan demands to know how he got here and how he can get back to Skartaris.

Agnes claims to know, but distracts him with thrown pool balls, and makes a dash for a gun cabinet. She snatches up a rifle, but in some higher realm someone cries “foul!”

Giant figures in shadow seem to be looking down at the combatants, discussing the events as if they’re part of some game. One declares Agnes a “Chaotic Good Primitive, without a knowledge of modern weaponry.” The other concedes the argument: “Point, Morgan!” he says.

Morgan quick-draws his pistol and fires at where Agnes was, as she fades out of existence. Morgan thinks he could use a drink right about now, and suddenly there’s a bar and bartender in the room to oblige. He pours Morgan a scotch, but also pours something else out of a small vial. Morgan drinks. By the time he’s realized he’s been slipped a Mickey, he’s sliding to the floor.

Red robed figures enter a door behind him. They bear Morgan away for “the sacrifice.” Morgan is placed on an altar--or table. The lead cultist raises an electric carving knife over him. In the other realm, two dice roll and one player decries “a lucky throw.”

Morgan suddenly awakens and grabs the leader. He tosses him into his fellows, then snatches up his sword. Morgan cuts into the cultists. The leader realizes the only way to keep Morgan from “winning” is to spill blood and release the demon--even if its his own! He stabs himself with the carving knife.  Elsewhere, a demon playing piece is placed on board, while Morgan faces a being of fire, emerging from the burners of the stove.

Morgan fights back, but he can’t cut what isn’t solid. The demon blasts him out a window and into the front yard. It comes charging out after him. He picks up a car off the curb, then tosses it at Morgan. Dice roll. Morgan dodges, and the car hits a hydrant. The torrent of water released reduces the demon to a cloud of smoke.

Morgan tries to lean against a tree--and it topples over. It’s not even real. A piece with two figures is placed on a board. The sound of a chainsaw starting gets Morgan’s attention. He turns to see Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, with a chainsaw and battle-axe, respectively.

Again, dice roll. Morgan fights the two, and discovers they aren't real either--they have no blood or internal organs. Morgan finally defeats them, but by that point the house is engulfed in flames from the demon.  Morgan fears he’s trapped in this lunatic world.

Elsewhere, gods (with familiar names) finish a game:

The gods box up their game of Devils & Demons, promising they have even more in store for Morgan.

The hero in question arrives back in Skartaris, where Shakira and the mayor of the dwarves have been waiting. Shakira asks where he’s been, but Morgan replies she wouldn’t believe him if he told her. Morgan accidentally cuts his thumb on the hellfire sword, and Mungo Ironhand’s admonition that the sword must always draw blood holds true.

Things to Notice:
  • Dungeons & Dragons seems to have provided some inspiration for this issue.
  • Morgan can somehow tell he's on the east coast, probably New Jersey.
Where It Comes From:
The last panel of this story gives its inspiration  as a nightmare:

Like most representations of these characters, Grell's renditions of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee seem informed by John C. Tenniel's illustrations.

"Agnes" may have been inspired by Robert E. Howard's swordswoman of the same name, Agnes de Chastillon.

The "gods" gaming with Morgan's life are Mike Grell, Jack C. Harris, and Joe Orlando.


Crammarc said...

cool blog idea, good read

Trey said...

Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by.