Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Warlord Wednesday: The Brood

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...

"The Last Dragon"
Warlord #128 (April 1988)
Written by Michael Fleisher; Pencils by Jan Duursema, Inks by Tom Mandrake

Synopsis: She’s got him: the “blood-mad fiend” who killed her mate and left her the last of her kind.

She is the dragon and the fiend is Morgan’s new friend Dreadnar. If Morgan gets in the dragon’s way, she’s willing to kill him, too. Dreadnar and Morgan dive under the surface of the lake. Dreadnar slices the dragon’s belly and she flies off. He thinks he’s driven her off, but in reality she’s just postponed the fight.

In Siberia, Danny Maddox picks the lock to the cell holding Mariah. He recruits her to help him in an escape attempt from the gulag—thinking he can use her as a scapegoat if things go bad. The two manage to waylay a guard and get a rifle.

The dragon flies back to her brood, thinking on her conflict with the biped (Dreadnar) as she does. Her kind had protected the humans of the Vale, but they relied upon them too. Only the blood of this particular race could nourish the dragon new borns. It was to this use they put the maidens the shamans sacrificed to them. When feminine struck the humans and they withheld the sacrifices, thinking the dragons were responsible, threatening the dragon’s hatchlings with starvation. The dragons retaliated, but the war has nearly destroyed her kind as well.

The dragon can see Dreadnar and Morgan approach in her mind’s eye. She realizes “the white-haired one” is not consumed by hatred and his blood won’t feed her young, but if he persists in helping the madman, she will slay him too.  She ambushes the would-be ambushers:

Mariah and Maddox haven’t gotten far into the wilderness before the gulag guards catch up with them. They’ll never make it to the rail line Maddox was opening to get to. Luckily, Mariah has another way out.

Morgan and Dreadnar are pended down by the dragon’s breath. Dreadnar knows the dragon will have to stop to take a breath eventually; when she does, he attacks.  Dreadnar’s attack is a distraction so Morgan can use his gun, but he doesn’t get a chance.

Mariah and Maddox are out in the snow. She can’t find the cave entrance. Maddox thinks she’s going crazy because she keeps saying “the pteranodon died here,” and the guards are almost on them. Then Mariah finds the pternanodon’s carcass that points them to the cave entrance. They run in, escaping their pursuers:

Even though Morgan didn’t get a shot off, he distracted the dragon enough that Dreadnar was able to jump on her head. Dreadnar stabs her skull, and she tosses him off. He falls to the ground; she hears every bone in his body break and knows her mate is avenged.

Morgan looks at Dreadnar then at the dragon. Their eyes meet and some understanding passes between them.

But Dreadnar isn’t quit done yet. He hurls his weapon into the dragon’s skull. She topples over, dying—but crushing him in the process. “The monster is dead,” Morgan thinks, and it’s unclear which of the combatants he refers to. He rides away, while Dreadnar’s blood seeps down:

Things to Notice:
  • This is the only issue of Warlord narrated by a dragon.
  • The cover image doesn't really happen in the issue.
Where It Comes From:
This issue continues the story from the last issue, but recontextualizes things to give it more nuance. This isn't the first time in the Warlord saga that a monster has come off sympathetic, but it has been  while.

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