Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Warlord Wednesday: Brotherhood of Death

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...

"Brotherhood of Death"
Warlord (vol. 1) #40 (December 1980)

Written and Pencilled by Mike Grell; Inked by Vince Colletta

Synopsis: In the royal palace of Kaambuka, Ashir complains to one if his minsters about the dreariness of kingly business. Suddenly, he sees someone interesting entering the palace--his friend Morgan, and Shakira. Ashir jumps down, sword drawn, to “settle an old score.”

Morgan and Ashir engage in a friendly duel. Morgan concedes that Ashir’s gotten better--now he’s a second rate swordsman rather than third. Guardsmen runs to their king’s rescue, but Ashir assures them everything is fine.

Morgan, mindful that the hellfire sword must always taste blood if drawn, gives it a little from his own thumb.

Later, Shakira reclines as she engages in conversation with Ashir. Ever the ladies’ man, he asks her why she stays with a savage like Morgan, contrasting the Warlord with himself. At that moment, Morgan enters in fancy duds similar to Ashir’s. Shakira’s verdict: they make him look ridiculous. Ashir’s serving girls have a different appraisal...

Ashir bemoans the boredom and drudgery of kingship compared to the excitement of a rogue’s life. The latest torment heaped open him: a political marriage to another head of state--a woman he has never even seen! He’s sure he’ll have to give up his harem for a fat wife.

Morgan suggests they do something reckless to celebrate his bachelorhood before it ends. Ashir suggests a royal hunt, and Morgan and Shakira agree.

In a dark chamber beneath the palace, conspirators watch our heroes in a crystal ball. Their robed and hooded leader wishes to assassinate Ashir before he can be married and solidify his place on the throne. The Guardsman Mustulous suggests a poisoned dagger, but his master silences him with a warning that he will obey or be food for the creature in the pit. The master raises a small charm made from an animal claw, and says he has a plan.

Later, in the forest, Ashir prepares to administer the killing blow to a charging, wounded stag with his dagger. He jumps across the beast’s back and drives the blade into its heart. Morgan and Shakira watch, and Shakira wonders why he takes such chances. Morgan replies, jokingly, that he has nothing to live for.

Morgan catches sight of a sabretooth stalking from the jungle toward Ashir. He cries out to his friend as the creature pounces. Ashir is too surprised to act, but Morgan lunges and meets the cat in midair!

He puts the beast in a full-Nelson, Tarzan-style, but it throws him. It moves forward to attack, until its distracted by Ashir, raising his bow. Again, the beast jumps at him. This time, Ashir is prepared, and his arrow takes it in the eye.

The cat’s dead. Shakira wonders why “her brother” attacked Ashir in the first place. Morgan finds the master plotter’s charm braided into the cat’s fur--and he points out the identical one dangling from Ashir’s belt. He realizes it was a set up.

Watching in his crystal ball, the master knows their stratagem has failed. He tells Mustulous that now they’ll do things his way. He cautions that this time there must be no mistakes--and the Warlord and his companion should die, too. Mustulous vows he will not fail. Looking down at tentacles writhing in a pit, the master reminds him of the consequences, otherwise.

Returning to the palace, Ashir is grousing about a return to boredom. It’s Shakira that first spots the masked assassins waiting to strike, and dispatches the first with her spear. Then Morgan and Ashir have their swords out, and the assassins quickly fall.

When the melee is over, they find the men are from among Ashir’s guard. Ashir realizes his political enemies have deeper resentments than he thought! Morgan suggests that he could abdicate, since that’s what he’s been wanting anyway.

Ashir’s had a change of heart. He’s finally found something that makes a king’s life interesting!

At that moment, trumpets sound the approach of his bride-to-be. Ashir’s new found joy evaporates. Morgan reminds him that it’s his duty, and suggests that he really doesn’t know that she’s going to be ugly.

Ashir is unconvinced, but goes to the window to look out at his intended. He exclaims in surprise at her beauty. Morgan, on the other hand, is dumbstruck.

Riding in his own on lost mate, Tara!

Things to Notice:
  • Ashir wears the same outfit as in his previous appearance--either he was a well-dressed thief or he's a shabbily dressed king.
  • Shakira's spear always seems to show up when she needs it, even when she doesn't seem to have had it with her in previous scenes.
Where It Comes From:
This issue shares its title with a 1976 blaxploitation action film, but its real inspiration seem to Ruritanian romance with its outsiders visiting a kingdom and becoming embroiled in political intrigues and assassination plots.

The name of the treacherous Mustulous, recalls the Latin word for "weasel-like", mustelus.


netherwerks said...

Boredom can be dangerous...

Trey said...

It's practically a gateway to danger