Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cashing in on Tolkien...in 1977.

Although I'd known of it for years, I never read Weirdworld until just recently. It's...passing strange, alright. From Marvel Premiere #38, "The Lord of Tyndall's Quest" Written by Doug Moench, art by Mike Ploog and Alex Nino.

It reads like you're coming in mid-quest, and yeah, after a little research, you are: this was the second published Weirdworld story. I had to look a little, the first was in Marvel Super Action #1, a black-and-white magazine with a Punisher cover--his fifth full appearance. And the first appearance of the Huntress Bobbi Morse, who would become Mockingbird; and a Howard Chaykin Dominic Fortune story! That sounds great, although Weirdworld seems an odd fit there. (This took me a while to search, since I thought there was a mistake somewhere: I have a pretty full collection of Marvel Super Action the regular comic, which was mostly classic Captain America and Avengers reprints, from back before they were easily available in trades!)

The elf Tyndall of Klarn is sent on a quest by the Dwarf-Elders of Weirdworld (because he's expendable and they don't like him) to rid the land of monsters by destroying the Heart of Evil. Instead of the Heart, though; Tyndall finds a mysterious egg, out of which hatches Velanna, an elf girl also of Klarn. Why and how she was in the egg is unrevealed: as far as she knows, she went to sleep and woke up in it. But Tyndall realizes the dwarves were trying to get rid of him, and joins Velanna on a journey to somewhere they wouldn't be hated.

While the pair are attacked by a swamp-serpent, the wizard Grithstane observes them with his magic mirror; and creates wax monsters to capture them, as he has another quest in mind for Tyndall. That's kind of a neat scene, actually. He wants Tyndall to slay a dragon and bring back the blood, which will restore Grithstane's youth: he had a captured elf girl of his own, but she couldn't stand the sight of him. Grithstane then tells Tyndall he'll send him to Klarn, which is a floating ring-shaped island in the sky--wait, if Tyndall and Velanna were from Klarn, shouldn't they have had maybe a vague idea where it was? And how did they get down from there? Grithstane magically launches Tyndall there on a small lump of ground, smashing him into the bottom of the floating island, and Tyndall has to dig his way to the top.

In short order, Tyndall finds a group of dwarves, who plan to sacrifice a "changer," another elf girl, to the dragon god. Tyndall is confused: is this is Klarn, and he's from Klarn, why don't they have pointed ears? Why are they sacrificing the girl who does? Tyndall fights them to save the girl, but the girl turns into a swamp-serpent! He's only saved by the arrival of the dragon, which kills the serpent; and Tyndall repays the dragon by killing it. "...can't just go around eating people," he supposes. The magic mirror returns Tyndall when he gets the blood, but he finds Grithstane's elf-girl was another swamp-serpent, that ate the unfortunate wizard.

Tyndall realizes his quest was for nothing, but Velanna takes it as a sign: there's no easy way to acceptance, and you can't stop hate by buying favors. And they're together, which is good enough for them.

Strange issue: since at first glance I thought this was the start of the story, it really reminded me of Wally Wood's "The King of the Ring" more than anything. And while I don't know if that was Moench and Ploog's intent, all the ads and blurbs I've seen for Weirdworld really hype it as in the same vein as Lord of the Rings; which makes me wonder why it was never collected and on the shelves to ride the coattails of the movies. May be a rights problem with the creators and Marvel, I don't know.

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