Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Nightmare Prelude

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...

"Nightmare Prelude!"
Warlord #96 (August 1985)
Written by Cary Burkett; Art by Rick Stasi; Inks by Bill Collins.

Synopsis: In the Shamballan camp at the Great Fire Mountain, Jennifer casts a spell to bring Machiste and Mariah from the ancient Age of Wizard-Kings to the present. Those two disappear from that era mid-chess game leaving Mungo Ironhand perplexed.

Morgan explains to his newly arrived friends that a war is coming and he needs their help.  The three wander off, giving Jennifer the opportunity to cast another spell to find the now missing Tinder.  Unfortunately, Mungo’s trying to cast a reversal spell to get Mariah and Machiste back.  The two spells get crossed up and Tinder winds up in the past.

Elsewhere, Tara shares a per usual tense exchange with her old friend (and one time lover) Graemore the minstrel.  After his talk with Tara, Graemore goes off to strum his lute alone, and accidentally winds up eavesdropping on Morgan revealing his plans for a sneak attack:

Mariah discovers Graemore and takes him for a spy.

Morgan intervenes and introduces him properly. Mariah was right in suspecting a spy in their midst, though:  A raven takes flight from a branch overhead.

Meanwhile in the capital of New Atlantis, a Vashek assassin has an audience with the Wizard-King,  who is mostly hidden from our view. The failure to kill the Warlord requires a new strategy. The Wizard-King will send a nightmare to cause him to despair and weaken spiritually and mentally. Then the assassin’s will be able to kill him.  A blood red cloud flows from the palace and into the sky, seeking its prey.

In the Bloodrock Mountains, Lord Sabertooth gets a visit from the witch, Saaba.  Transforming from her raven form, she tells him about Morgan’s plans.  Sabertooth is angry at being duped into combing the mountains looking for a nonexistent enemy camp, and hungry for revenge.  Saaba, desiring above all to see Morgan defeated, sweeps up Sabertooth in a whirlwind to transport him to Shamballah ,so he can prepare a surprise for the Warlord and friends.

That night, the Wizard-King’s nightmare does its work. Morgan dreams of slaying Vashek assassins, only to have them revealed to be his friends and family beneath their masks. The sexy personification of death he met before appears and reminds him that he serves her. Morgan wakes up in a sweat and walks out in the night to sit alone. He wonders if he will lead people to their death because he is cursed to destroy everything he holds dear.

The next morning, the plan begins.  Morgan, Trogero , Scarhart and a small force of soldiers enter the caves leading to the ancient complex beneath Shamballah. When they reach the complex, Trogero is felled by a crossbow bolt!

Lord Sabertooth and a group of New Atlantean soldiers wait in ambush!

Things to Notice:
  • All the women look like bodybuilders in Stasi's art.
  • The Danko riders are called unicorn riders here, despite their mounts obviously having three horns.
  • The mysterious Wizard-King of New Atlantis is mentioned for the first time.
  • Krystovar comments that in the coming battle he might unknowingly kill his brother who has been turned into a beast-man by the New Atlanteans.  Foreshadowing, perhaps?
Where It Comes From:
The underground passage and the computer complex where the ambush occurs first appeared in issue #15.

The female personification of death first appeared in issue #14. Morgan found out her name is "Azrael" and entered her realm to save Shakira in issue #46.  See the commentary on those issues for more.


The Angry Lurker said...

Excellent, can you buy one of these blood red clouds, Ray needs a wake up call!

garrisonjames said...

You do a great job of mapping out the underlying continuity, such as it is, through out this series. Has anyone done some sort of master index for Warlord? Not sure if there's much of a market for it, but it might help out the next crew who come in and attempt to revive the franchise. Will Warlord make it into the new continuity do you think?

Trey said...

@Angry Lurker - I'm afraid you'll have to study sorcerer first.

@Jim - There is an index online, but it's pretty rudimentary. I have thought of one day compiling and cleaning up all these post, but I'd want to wait until I finished the series.

garrisonjames said...

You've done a great job on the series. It has been a lot of fun to read-up on the issues I missed back in the day.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know I got into the OSR thing in the last month or so (been playing RPGs since '80), and have been really enjoying your blog since finding it, your Warlord posts in particular.

I still have all my Warlord comics 1-133 in a shortbox (they *juuust* fit) and brought them out of the basement recently to read and then follow along with your recaps, impressions and historical tidbits.

You do a great job! Thank you!

Trey said...

Hey. Glad you're enjoying Warlord Wednesday and the blog in general. This tends to be a low comment series, but I know their are readers out there, so I keep plugging along.