Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Warlord Wednesday: Death Dual

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...

"Death Dual"
Warlord (vol. 1) #60 (August 1982)

Written by Mike Grell (Sharon Grell); Penciled by Jan Duursema; Inked by Mike DeCarlo

Synopsis:  Darvin is surprised to find the door to his dungeon open, but it makes little difference to the two assassins. The prisoner still appears to be safely chained and locked in his iron mask. That makes it easy for what the they’ve come there to do.

Things are not as they seem. The Warlord leaps up, slaps the big assassin in the face with a manacle, and wraps the other chain around the neck of the little guy. Grappling with the big one, Morgan stabs him in the chest with a spike on his iron mask.

Meanwhile, Tinder’s attempt to slip out is foiled by Darvin. He’s figured out the boy lifted his keys and helped the the prisoner escape. He raises his pimp-cane to strike the boy, but Tinder twists free, leaving his armlet (Morgan’s wrist watch) in Darvin’s hand.

Morgan, now freed of the mask, hears the boy’s scream and fears the worst. He snatches up the big man’s sword just as the little one readies himself for a duel. Morgan casts aside the broadsword in favor of a dagger, knowing he can’t match his opponents speed with the bigger blade in his weakened state. He lunges at the assassin...

Tinder makes good his escape, running over Griff in the process. Darvin helps the bewildered boy up. It’s time for them to make themselves scarce, too. Darvin’s confident that having the armband will be enough for his schemes.

Morgan and the assassin fight on. A swing that sticks the assassin’s sword in a wall, gives Morgan an opening. He buries the the dagger in the man’s chest. Morgan calls for Tinder, but the boy is gone--another tantalizing mystery. He turns his attentions back to wounded man. The assassin begs Morgan to end his agony. Morgan wants the name of his employer first. Praedor.

Meanwhile, Praedor’s imposter is running the council meeting and Praedor and his cronies are pleased. Tara’s down in the palace library reading old scrolls, looking for a way to overcome the “old boy’s club” of the council. Tara realizes she must denounce the man she believes to be Morgan to regain her position. Graemore shows up to lend his support, and tell her he loves her--which steels her resolve for she she must do.

Elsewhere, Morgan returns to the palace. He commands the guards to seal off the palace and find Praedor. He stalks into his chambers and surprises his double gazing at the mirror in a similar way to how the double first got the drop on him. Normally, Morgan would make short work of the imposter, but in his weakened state things aren't going well, until the cavalry arrives:

Both claim to be the real Morgan, of course. Tara poses a question only the real one would know: “Who’s the King of Swing?” When Morgan says “Benny Goodman” she swings the pistol his way. Quickly thinking back to things he’s told her, he realizes she must have meant to ask who the “Sultan of Swat” was.  He says “Babe Ruth.”

Tara shoots the imposter. Morgan embraces her, leaving poor Graemore looking on.

Later, a palace blacksmith prepares an iron mask. Far beneath the palace, in its dungeon, the mask is locked around Praedor’s head.
Things to Notice:
  • Morgan beats Conan and the Gray Mouser (well, at least they're stand-ins).
  • Praedor's name is consistently spelled "Praydor" in this issue.
Where It Comes From:
The title of this issue is a play on "death duel," of course. The issue ends with the common "identify the imposter" variant trope of the hero having to give some information only he would know--and having a little trouble remembering it.


The Angry Lurker said...

A happy ending for a change.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, thanks for sharing!
Have a nice day.

Trey said...

@Angry Lurker - Yep. I well-deserved one for our protagonists (except lovelorn Graemore).

@iNews - You're welcome. A nice day to you, as well.

Mr. Cactus said...

Never read this titles before I will have to check it out.

Trey said...

It's good stuff.

netherwerks said...

The big fight with the Big Guy and Little Guy was fun. Like you said, Morgan effectively took-out Conan and the Gray Mouser there. The whole Man In The Iron Mask bit was also nicely handled.

Referring to Benny Goodman and Babe Ruth seems a little...well...dated, doesn't it? That seems like some rather interesting demographics, if DC was aiming for ERB-fans, etc.

Trey said...

You're right, that "Sultan of Swat" line certainly does get play in Burroughs work--which always bothered me a bit as it's an anachronism for John Carter. I don't know if DC was aiming for ERB fans, but given the whole series seems pretty ERB-inspired, maybe Grell was.