Warlord v1 #6

warlord006
Apr/May 77

Home is a Four-Letter Word
17 pages

Credits
Writer/Artist: Mike Grell
Colourist: Liz Berube
Editor: Jack C. Harris
Cover: Mike Grell

Characters
Travis Morgan, Professor Mariah Romanova, Professor George Lakely, Professor Richard Belding, Professor Tor Olafson, Tikal, CIA Agent Stryker

Synopsis
Morgan, stunned and bleeding from his traumatic trip on the Atlantean shuttle, staggers into a camp drawn to a light coming from a tent. He yanks the flaps open, startling the beautiful red-haired woman inside. Her shock lasts only a second before she has leapt to her feet and has a rifle pointed at him. After a wry comment, Morgan promptly passes out.

Upon awakening, he finds himself surrounded by four people. Their leader, Professor Lakely, tells Morgan that he is at the site of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Lakely and his team of UN funded professors: Belding, Olafson and the lady who almost shot him, Mariah Romanova of Moscow University, are archæologists who are there to explore the ruins left by the Inca.

Morgan's strange clothing begs the question of where he came from and he relates his fantastic story, complete with his new-found knowledge of the remnants of Atlantean civilisation, and how he came to Machu Picchu. However, he's not prepared for the shocking information that he's been in Skartaris for eight years. It is 1977 on the outer Earth. This is further proof to him that time doesn't work the same in Skartaris.

The archæologists give him the tour of Machu Picchu, and Lakely tells Morgan that they have discovered beneath the Incan ruins a structure that is much older, predating Incan culture by 10,000 years.

Morgan tries to make nice with Romanova, apologising for his behaviour of the previous night, but finds himself on the opposite side of the Cold War. Romanova is a communist through and through.

Lakely has a hunch that he has found a remnant of Atlantis, and thinks that Morgan may be able to confirm this. They descend by ladder into the newly-discovered chamber. Lakely's hunch is proven correct. Morgan looks at the 20-foot-tall painting of a cat-headed man and can read the writing. It is the tomb of Tikal, a cat demon, imprisoned for an unnamed sacrilege, forever blinded to the glory of Ra. Lakely ignores Morgan's advice about a curse on anyone who tampers with the tomb and has his team dynamite the tomb open. The massive stone wall falls out, revealing a statue of the cat demon the same size as the painting.

Morgan is still wary of the 'statue', thinking that people don't bury statues, but before he can express himself further, the sound of a helicopter is heard over Machu Picchu. The archæologists tell Morgan that while he lay unconscious they used his dogtags to inform the USAF that they had one of their men. But Morgan was part of covert operations in Viet Nam, and he is a security risk out in the open like this. Instead of the USAF, they get a hit squad from the CIA. Morgan correctly assumes the CIA will think that having been shot down behind enemy lines in Viet Nam eight years ago, Morgan turned traitor to the Russians. He doesn't think the CIA will believe his tale of Skartaris, either.

The squad descends into the tomb and holds them all at gunpoint. Professor Lakely tries to assert his rights, but is backhanded for the effort by the team's leader, and Morgan uses the distraction to jump in and wrap his hands around the man's throat. Morgan has become a savage again, tearing into the squad. They want him alive and refrain from killing him. It seems a stand off for the moment, but the sun has moved across the sky and a shaft of sunlight shines through the ceiling of the tomb and into the statue of Tikal's eyes. The massive cat demon leaps to life and shreds two of the hit squad with one swipe of his paw. The CIA leader is swept aside with a crushing backhand, slamming him hard into the wall. The last hitman tries to kill it with machine gun fire, but to no avail. He is squished beneath a taloned paw.

The hit squad eliminated, Tikal turns his attention to Morgan and the archæologists. Morgan's quick thinking saves the day. He vaults onto the ladder and uses it to land him on the back of Tikal's neck. He covers Tikal's eyes, denying him the life-giving sunlight and the demon becomes a lifeless statue once again. He crashes to the tomb's floor, shattering on impact.

While they regret the loss of an important relic, all are happy to be alive. They realise that Morgan will be a marked man as long as he remains on the outer Earth. He is anxious to return to Skartaris anyways, and asks Mariah to come with him. She accepts and they take the shuttle back into the Earth.

Shortly after, explosive charges detonate, closing the Machu Picchu shuttle station forever. Stryker, the sole survivor of his team, is bitterly disappointed that his quarry has eluded him.

Arriving at the station in Skartaris, Morgan looks forward to his reunion with Tara, whom he left only a day before. But all he finds is his helmet, covered in cobwebs.

Notes
The first appearance of long-time cast member Mariah Romanova.

Ra was the Egyptian Sun God.

I'm sure most archæologists would shudder at Lakely's enthusiastic use of dynamite upon a major discovery.

The CIA team leader is unnamed in this issue. We would find out his name is Stryker in Warlord v1 #13.


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
  • This issue takes place on April 15–16, 1977 : around its publication date; Morgan has been in Skartaris eight years
  • Morgan dates himself : he was born in 1926
  • Given everyone's state of dress (or undress) it must be an unseasonable warm April night at 7,970 feet
  • So much for covert : the CIA helicopter has a prominently displayed ‘Air America’ logo
  • The issue contains two Peter Pan references : Morgan calls Skartaris ‘Never Never Land,’ and Lakely quotes from the Disney animated film

Where It Comes From
In the introduction to Warlord: The Savage Empire, Grell relates Mariah first name came from the song "They Call the Wind Maria" from the 1951 musical Paint Your Wagon, and the 1969 film adaptation with Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. Her surname is the feminine form of the name of the last imperial dynasty of Russia which ruled from 1613 until the revolution in 1917.

We get two Atlantean supernatural beings named this issue. The name Tikal comes from the name given to the site of an ancient Mayan city in Guatemala. The name of the Atlantean sun god, Ra, is the same as the ancient Egyptian sun god.

Air America, owners of the helicopter in the issue, was a cargo and passenger airline secretly owned and operated by the CIA. It was involved in providing support for covert operations during the Vietnam War.

Lakely's quote – “second star to the right, straight on till morning" – comes from Peter Pan. This is Peter's explanation to Wendy and her brothers about how they'll to get to Neverland. The word "star" doesn't appear in the line in J.M. Barrie's original novel or stage play, however. It was added in the 1953 Disney film version.

The underground sub-shuttle seen again this issue bears a resemblance to the like-named sub-shuttle in the Gene Roddenberry-created TV movies, Genesis II (1973) and Planet Earth (1974). eom

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