Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Fire and Sword

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...

"Fire and Sword"
Warlord #99 (November 1985)
Written by Cary Burkett; Art by Andy Kubert; Inks by Pablo Marcos.

Synopsis: The Shamballans trudge through a swamp on the way to a new camp.  Their old camp has become too dangerous with the instability of the Fire Mountain volcano.  Morgan and Machiste scout the way.  The march is abruptly halted by a rise of a hydra creature from the muck.  Morgan predicts it will be hard to kill—and he’s right.  The thing drags him beneath the surface and almost drowns him before he slays the last head.

The group forms two camps. Machiste leads the group with the women and children, and Morgan leads the camp of soldiers.  When Krystovar asks what their next step is, Morgan (predictably, if nonsensically) says he’s going it only.  He intends to take out the big boss, Cykroth the Unholy, Wizard-King of New Atlantis, by himself.  He walks off alone to do some planning, but Krystovar and Jennifer decide to help him whether he wants them to or not.

Meanwhile, Tara is cooling off in a stream, when Graemore comes along doing the minstrel thing.  He’s heard that she stayed by his side while he was healing.  He leans in and kisses her.  Tara pushes him away.  He’s misunderstood.  He was her first love, and she’ll always care for him, but she loves Morgan.  Graemore, downcast, finally gets it.

In New Atlantis, Cykroth summons the chief of the Vashek assassins before him. He commands the warrior to take on a solo mission to find and kill Travis Morgan. He imbues the man with some of his wizardly power, making him grow bigger, stronger, and faster. He also summons a dragon for the warrior to ride.  The Vashek flies forth, following the psychic trail left by Morgan’s visit last issue.

Back in Skartaris, Krystovar and Jennifer are hard at work.  Krystovar pores over scrolls of Norrad he snagged in New Atlantis. Jennifer uses her power to probe Cykroth’s mystic defenses.  The wizard cyclops senses her and sends a blast back down the line, but in doing so, he inadvertently reveals something about the source of his power.

Sitting alone, Morgan is attacked surprised by a blast of fire from the assassin’s dragon mount. He gets off a few shots with his pistol, but to no effect.  He heads for the forest and manages to ambush the Vashek, wounding him.  Soon though, he’s forced to retreat again.  The man is too strong and too skillful.

Still, he notices that the dragon flies slower once the man was injured.  He surmises the two are linked in some way.  He sets up another ambush using his helmet on a stick as a lure.  He’s able to knock the warrior out of the sky, but soon he’s fighting defensively again.  Seeing the dragon coming in for an attack, Morgan takes a desperate gamble and positions himself between the two:

Link as they are, his foes are both destroyed.

Returning to camp, Morgan’s greeted by Krystovar and Jennifer.  Krystovar has discovered there’s another way into New Atlantis besides the sea route.  Jennifer has realized that Cykroth draws his power from his Atlantean subjects. Morgan stares at them for a moment, and comes to a realization, himself. Embracing them, he says they should go find the others and tell them what they’re going to do—together.

Things to Notice:   
  • Why Morgan is intent on going it alone here isn't really clear. Residual effects of the spell banished last issue?
  • Cykroth gets a sobriquet this issue ("the unholy") that hasn't been mentioned before.
Where It Comes From:
The title of this issue refers directly to the dragon-riding Vashek assassin.  The story seems mainly set-up for the big confrontation to come--giving Morgan and crew a way to get the upper hand over the Atlanteans.

The multiple-headed swamp monster is a reference to the Lernaean Hydra, a mult-headed reptillian monster of Greek myth, killed by Heracles in the second of his Twelve Labors.


The Angry Lurker said...

My Wednesday is complete.....

Trey said...

Glad I could oblige.