Monday, July 09, 2012

I am honestly surprised I haven't posted anything from this issue before, since I love it to death, even though I didn't really have it for years. Huh? Well, it's Warlord #4, "Duel of the Titans" by Mike Grell. Story, pencils, and inks. Love it.

The wizard-priest Deimos has taken over the city of Thera, and holds its queen Tara prisoner. Everything's coming up Deimos, at least until Travis Morgan, the Warlord, shows up outside the city's walls...with an army of former gladiators and slaves, equipped with "modern" war machinery: crossbows, catapults, and siege towers.

Deimos is not particularly worried by this, since this just gives him the opportunity to finally kill Travis, and to try out the power of the very nicely-bound "Scrolls of Blood." Tara, for her part, is neither impressed nor frightened; and has a somewhat annoyed expression like she's waiting for Travis to pick her up from work, and he's late. Still, Deimos is able to conjure up a giant horned demon out of smoke, which crushes a siege tower.
While something like that might usually be a problem, this was early on in the series, and Travis still had some gear left from his SR-71 Blackbird. Namely, a big chunk of plastic explosive intended for the plane's self-destruct. Charging up the remnants of the tower, Travis intends on blowing Deimos' head off with his Automag, but Tara is in the line of fire. Instead, he takes out Deimos' crystal ball-thing, disspelling the monster. Then, he hangs the plastic explosive on the castle door, runs for cover, then shoots it; and blamo. (We'll ignore the fact that for an explosive like C-4, a gunshot shouldn't set it off, even from a .44 AutoMag. Which is kind of an odd gun for an Air Force pilot to have anyway, but if I'm not mistaken, Travis was blowing punks away with it years before Dirty Harry!)
His forces routed, Deimos tries to sneak out with Tara, but is captured. At gunpoint he demands a fight, "Freedom or death! Tara encourages Travis to just shoot him, but Travis can't do that in cold blood, and agrees to face him. He orders the torches put out: "It is fitting that this prince of evil should die in darkness!"

Deimos holds his own for a bit, wounding Travis; but then it's on. Enraged, Travis forces Deimos back, into the eternal sun of Skartaris, where Deimos is killed. No spoiler, he'd be back--I originally read this in The Deimos Saga 100-page digest version, and this scene is maybe fifteen pages in. I don't know if Grell planned on Deimos's return from the get-go, but he would come back, um, five or six times, off the top of my head. (Sometimes, rather dramatically, sometimes just because.)

Even though sword-and-sorcery, adventure movies haven't done well at the box office lately (John Carter or the recent Conan the Barbarian) I'd love to see a Warlord movie. I don't know if Grell intended this either, but there's something quintessentially American about Travis: at his best in a tight spot, but prone to losing focus and wandering off: he's great at overthrowing the tyrant, not so hot at rebuilding society. (There's a reason his wife Tara usually greets his return with a punch in the face...)

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