Monday, July 01, 2013

102 Degrees in sunny Skartaris today...

...and locally as well, which is a bit unusual. The bike ride into work should be before it heats up, but the ride related news, I have the weirdest tan lines. Like I've been wearing some kind of John Carter harness or something. (Also, please click to enlarge today, I may have oversized them!)

Anyway, today's comic is one I read in the Showcase Presents black-and-white reprint, but had seen mentioned before as well: from 1979, Warlord #17, "The Quest, part II: Citadel of Death" Written and illustrated by Mike Grell, inks by Vince Colletta. The quest in question was Travis and Tara's (and a dog--I'm not sure it even had a name) to recover their son Joshua from the resurrected devil-priest Deimos, and has now led them to the Great Desert of Skartaris, "a mere five hundred kilometers of trackless, blistering desert waste." Wait a second: the sun never sets in Skartaris, so how are they navigating? Seems like it would be all too easy to wander in circles...moreover, since the sun never sets, it wouldn't ever cool off, either, and is probably beyond blisteringly hot, too.

Travis is somewhat mopey that he pissed off his friends Mariah and Machiste (they'll be back!) but then they find the titular citadel in the desert. From legends, Tara recognizes it as Timgad, the citadel of the Sorcerer Kings, and doubtless crammed to the gills full of evil. Travis, being a modern man, is somewhat more skeptical:
As this issue runs, along the bottom portion of each page is the story of Ogir Falconeye, a new sorcerer who came to Timgad in search of power...and fell just short of his goal, finding but losing a glowing cask, then ending up trapped by a demon in the dungeons.

Finding water, Tara and Travis also find a veritable army of baboon-looking monsters, in an ambush. Travis is pushed into the same trapdoor to the dungeons Ogir fell down, and after Travis finds the cask and the demon, he also finds the pentagram Ogir drew to protect himself. Along with Ogir's body: the pentagram kept the demon out, but he couldn't escape, and chose starvation to being eaten. But, inside the cask was the other half of the magic gem Ogir wore, the Hellfire Gem: Travis puts them both together and destroys the demon, then gets back to Tara, driving the baboon things away. (The ones Tara hadn't already massacred, though; she was pretty capable of taking care of herself!)

Travis isn't sure if the gem is white magic or black, but suspects it might come in handy when they confront Deimos. And it does...a little. I've mentioned before, one of my favorite single comics ever is DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #10, 100 pages of Warlord, "The Complete Deimos Saga, Swords Against the Devil Priest!" This story would run to issue #21, but most of the issues of "The Quest," like this one, are glossed over. Still,Tara does pull out the Hellfire Gem use as a light. Well, it would've been a cheat if that gem had just melted Deimos, I suppose; but at the time I was wondering where Tara got that thing! Maybe this time I'll remember, unless the sun bakes it out of my brains...

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