Warlord v1 #15

Oct/Nov 78

25 pages

Writer/Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Letterer: Karin
Colourist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Larry Hama
Cover: Mike Grell

Travis Morgan, Machiste, Mariah, Tara, Joshua, Madzu, Deimos

Morgan, Mariah and Machiste have passed Fire Mountain (an active volcano), and are making their way through Ebondar Forest when Morgan climbs a tree to survey the area. As he reaches the upper branches, he sees his goal, the city of Shamballah, shimmering in the distance. His mate, Tara awaits within the ancient Atlantean city's walls and he yearns to be with her again.

Meanwhile, Machiste and Mariah are sharing a tender moment. Machiste knows that Mariah is in love with Morgan. Mariah knows it's hopeless love though. Morgan is completely devoted to his Tara. Machiste lets Mariah know that he has feelings for her. Mariah is touched, but still her heart is captivated by the Warlord.

Back up in the tree, Morgan is descending to the ground, only to have the branch beneath his feet blasted out by a bolt of energy from Shamballah. After plummeting and grabbing a handy vine to break his fall, Morgan is back on the ground more quickly than he would have preferred. The trio hear voices approaching, and after the attack on Morgan fear that they may be hostile. Hiding up in the trees they see refugees pass beneath them. Morgan and company descend and ask them what has happened. They are told a demon possesses Shamballah, wreaking havoc and destruction. The king is dead. Tara is alive there, and Morgan must save her.

He dashes through the jungle, and races past the city's walls to the steps of the palace, Machiste and Mariah running hard to keep up. And then, there she is. Tara. Weeping upon her lover's return, she is still Tara and decks him one, sending him to the floor.

Tara accuses him of forgetting her and taking up with Mariah. Mariah, already smarting from a breaking heart, takes exception to this and the women draw swords upon one another. Morgan quickly steps between the two and professes his undying love for Tara. Mariah, crushed, flees the room. Morgan had been blind to Mariah's feelings and Machiste calls him a fool for it before he follows Mariah.

Morgan does not have long to feel like an ass, as energy bolts rip through the stone floor. Morgan wants to leave, but Tara holds him back. After the attack has subsided, Tara takes Morgan to meet his infant son. Morgan is overjoyed to be a father. The feeling that passes through him and Tara is indescribable.

Morgan still advises that they should leave. Tara will not leave. Her people are scattered but will rally around Morgan's son, the heir to the throne of Shamballah. Survival is tenuous, though, as the energy bolts rip through the floor again. Tara says they come from within the city and Morgan knows that they must descend to the lower levels. Tara leaves the baby in care of Madzu, a servant, giving it Morgan's wristwatch as a toy.

Deeper and deeper the pair go, darkness surrounding them until they reach a large natural cavern with a river running through it and an ancient water system. A paddle wheel turns, providing the motor for a mechanical ladder. Morgan and Tara hop on and they are lowered into a huge cavern, this one manmade, filled with machinery as far as the eye can see. Morgan had guessed that the terminal used by Deimos was only one of many controlled by a central computer. Here, under Shamballah, the greatest of Atlantean cities, lies the computer that once controlled all of Skartaris. The ladder carries them down hundreds of feet past memory banks and processors, and they can only speculate about what it all does.

As they set foot on one of the levels, lasers begin firing. Morgan quickly drags Tara behind machinery. The lasers bounce off it, not hurting the machinery they were designed to protect. A peal of laughter fills the cavern. The computer has gone insane from isolation for so many thousands of years, and now it wants to destroy all that is around it. In the immediate vicinity are Morgan and Tara, who madly dash through the chamber trying to get away.

They stumble upon the main reactor, powered by the eternal Skartarian Sun beamed down a long shaft from the surface. Desperately, Morgan and Tara scale this shaft. Soon, they are beyond the computer's reach. Just below the surface, a huge parabolic mirror focuses the sunlight into the concentrated beam. Morgan and Tara manage to tilt the mirror upwards where it burns a whole through the rock, releasing the flow of an underground river. Water rushes down the shaft, spelling the end of the insane machinery.

Morgan regrets the loss of knowledge, knowing it could have ended the savagery of Skartaris. On the way back to Shamballah, Tara thinks they should name their child after Morgan's father. Morgan agrees, and the baby will be known as Joshua. However, they don't return to familial bliss. Someone has attacked the Royal court in their absence, mortally wounding Madzu. She says a demon came and…

Morgan and Tara dash up the tower stairs and when they reach the summit they see Deimos atop a flying lizard, spiriting away young Joshua.

The first appearance of Joshua, Morgan and Tara's son.

This marked the first issue that Grell had not inked himself. After a nice job by Joe Rubinstein this issue, Vince Colletta became the regular inker (with a few exceptions) for the remainder of Grell's work as a penciller on Warlord.

Quite a dense story compared to issues that just preceded it. Grell seems to have benefited from the extended page count and being able to concentrate on writing and pencilling.

There is a nice contrast between the primitive wooden paddle wheel in the river that drives the ladder and the awesome Atlantean machinery it leads to. eom

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