Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Warlord Wednesday: Dragon Skinner

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...

"Dragon Skinner"
Warlord #104 (April 1986)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Art by Ron Randall

Synopsis: Having reunited with Shakira, Morgan fills her (and the new reader) in on the aging curse that is afflicting his daughter Jennifer and on his quest to find the wizard that he hopes can save her.  Hearing a ruckus, the two go to investigate and find a bunch of guys shooting an orange allosaurus with a ballista.

It seems there’s a market for “dragon” skins as there’s “nothin’ them Kambuka scribes like better than to sheathe their scrolls in supple young dragon skins.”  Sounds vaguely naughty, doesn't it?  Well, Shakira doesn't like it:

One of them runs at her with an axe, but we don’t get to see her swordswomanship as Morgan intervenes with his pistol. After Morgan declines to sell his gun to the leader of the skinners, they slink off with the kills they have.

Morgan’s worried the baby allosaurs will die without their mother, but Shakira clues him on carnosaur parental practices and suggests the father will be a long soon to take care of them.

Meanwhile in Bakwele, Mariah and Machiste (disguised in priestly cloaks) book passage on a ship. The shipmaster, however, catches sight of Machiste’s unpriest-like mace-hand.

Elsewhere, Shakira is taking a dip in a pond while Morgan watches and wonders at why she didn’t say anything about him removing her collar (which she just picked up and put back on).

Morgan’s not the only one watching. The skinners are hiding near by. They think they can get a “king’s ransom in the slave marts of Kalibas” for Shakira.  The skinners get the jump on our heroes and take Morgan’s gun.  They force Shakira to change into cat-form and put her in a little cage.  Then, they shoot Morgan in the head! It looks like a glancing shot, but Morgan is out.  They steal his sword, too and leave him for dead.

Meanwhile, in a mansion in Kiro, the conspirators receive grisly “proof” that Machiste and Mariah are dead: two partially decomposed cadavers pulled from the river.  The ferryman who brought them in receives a bag of coin for his trouble.  As he assures the conspirators he’ll never show his face in Kiro again,the two men nod and smile, knowingly.

Later, the man is celebrating his hoax he pulled off on the two.  He opens the bag to get coin for a prostitute--and instead gets a viper biting him on the neck!

Morgan awakens bereft of weapons.  He pulls the ballista missile from the allosaur carcass, figuring that’s better than nothing.  At that moment, the male in the breeding pair shows up.  Morgan rides away quickly while the beast’s attentions are on his offspring.  Unfortunately, he doesn't get far down the trail before the carnosaur catches up to him.

Morgan’s chased to the edge of the cliff with only the missile to defend himself. The cliff gives way beneath them and man and dinosaur fall--but Morgan’s able to catch a hanging branch. The dinosaur lives, but it will take him awhile to climb out.

In the camp of the skinners, two of the gang decide to steal Morgan’s gun from the sleeping leader. The leader is not as asleep as he seems. He blows the two away. Morgan hears the sound and rides up on them. He punches the guy out and takes the gun. The leader tries to save his miserable life by buying Morgan off with the allosaurus tooth he wears around his neck. Then, he hears a roar behind him.  

The daddy allosaur is here! Morgan turns to shoot it:


The dinosaur charges--right past Morgan. It snatches up the leader of the skinners in its jaws. Morgan frees Shakira from the cage. He’s worried the allosaurus will charge them next, but the beast doesn’t.  He just stands and watches the two humans leave. Shakira hypothesizes that the dinosaur understands they never meant him or his mate any harm.  Morgan is skeptical...

Things to Notice:
  • Again we see dinosaurs in the most prevalent Skartarian shade: orange.
  • Since when does Shakira wear or use a sword?
  • Apparently prostitutes in Kiro wear almost 19th century style undergarments.
Where it Comes From:
The dragon skinners in this episode are clearly meant to evoke the buffalo hunters of the American Old West.