Warlord v1 #4

Dec 76/Jan 77

Duel of the Titans
17 pages

Writer/Artist: Mike Grell
Colourist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Joe Orlando
Cover: Mike Grell

Travis Morgan, Tara, Deimos, Machiste

In the city of Thera, King Deimos gloats over his beautiful captive, Princess Tara of Shamballah. A guard rushes in to warn his king of impending attack, but at that moment a cannonball crashes through the wall, pulping the soldier. The Warlord's army of freed slaves and oppressed peasants has arrived.

Morgan has shown them how to build the best of medieval war machines: catapults, crossbows, and siege towers. His army swarms over the walls of Thera. Deimos smiles in triumph. Tara had been the perfect bait. Deimos consults his Scrolls of Blood and conjures up a huge red smoke demon with the help of a strange device.

The results are devastating. It smashes the siege towers and scoops up men by the handful, crushing them. Morgan horrified, rejects Machiste's advice to flee while they can. Morgan will not abandon the people he has led to their deaths. He picks up a large black canister and slings its strap over his shoulder, dashes across open ground with it, and climbs the remains of one of the siege towers.

He had hoped to shoot Deimos, but the coward has Tara as a shield. Morgan sees the weird device that materialised the demon and fires at the machine just as the demon grabs him. As the device shatters, the demon dissipates back into the smoke it came from.

Morgan drops back down to the ground and under a hail of arrows runs to the city's gate and pegs a knife into the wood. From this he hangs the canister, which is the self-destruct device from his SR-71 Blackhawk. Taking cover, he puts a slug from his .44 Automag into the canister and the gate is blown to pieces.

The Warlord and his army swarm through the portal. Morgan is possessed and he savagely tears his way through man after man. Deimos flees with Tara into the bowels of his castle, but Morgan catches up with them quickly. The city belongs to the Warlord and his army.

Deimos says that he will be no man's slave and demands a fight which will either kill him or free him. Tara says to shoot him outright, but Morgan would be a better man than his enemy and grants Deimos' request. In the darkness, their swords clang in fierce battle. Deimos draws blood, but he is no match for Morgan's animal fury and with one devastating blow the Warlord cuts straight through Deimos' sword and cleaves the despot's skull. The evil is dead.

Morgan's quest has ended. While he will travel with Tara to Shamballah, he urges his army to continue its fight for freedom.

Lying on the floor in the dark is Deimos, in a pool of his own blood. Next to him is one of the Scrolls of Blood. Its cover reads:

Tech Order 47 of 100
Technical Operations Manual
Computer No. B-100-D
Solid Light Hologram
Projector Apparatus

Once again Grell teases us with a hint of the lost technology of Skartaris, but we'd have to wait until next issue for the beginning of an answer.

Trey Causey’s Notes
Trey is a blogger with an interest in Warlord and the following comments come courtesy of his From the Sorcerer’s Skull blog

Things to Notice
  • The deity Deimos served as high priest was the sun god
  • Deimos has apparently read Dante's Divine Comedy, or either he (and Dante) have actually been to the gates of Hell
  • Despite the Skartarians having weapons suggestive of at least a Medieval European level of technology, they've never invented siege equipment dating from several centuries BCE in the outer world
  • Again Morgan foils Deimos' plans with a well-placed bullet through a technological device

Where It Comes From
This issue's title likely comes from the American title of a 1961 sword and sandal film (Italian title: Romolo e Remo) directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott. Corbucci is better known for his spaghetti westerns, with Django (1966) probably being the most famous. Reeves is best known as Hercules in Italian sword and sandal films, while Scott played Tarzan in five films and three episodes of an aborted TV series.

Deimos' quote, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” is a common translation of the Italian phrase "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate," which is the inscription over the gates of Hell in the Inferno section of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

Deimos' use of the scrolls of blood demonstrates Clarke's Third Law: "a sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Apparent magic actually turning out to be ancient technology is a common pulp fiction trope. eom

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