Warlord v1 #8

Aug/Sep 77

The City in the Sky
17 pages

Writer/Artist: Mike Grell
Editor: Denny O'Neil
Cover: Mike Grell

Travis Morgan, Mariah, Machiste, Tragg

While Morgan, Mariah and Machiste discuss race relations and Machiste's new right 'hand' (a mace) one of the tower guards of Kiro informs the trio that pterodactyls are descending upon the city. They leap to action, Morgan firing his gun at the diving reptiles, and as they close they fight them off with sword and mace.

However, one of the marauding beasts grips Mariah in its talons and carries her off. Morgan and Machiste fear they have lost her forever, but they see that one of the pterodactyls is injured and has not left with its companions. Morgan, ever the man of action, leaps upon the flying lizard and it takes off. Against his better judgement, Machiste jumps on too. The pterodactyl flies high over the Skartarian jungles, returning to its roost, a wondrous floating city in the sky.

Jumping off the reptile as it comes in for a landing, the pair see that the city is in poor shape, having been up here for countless ages. Before they get very far they're discovered by rickety security robots who try to detain the intruders. They prove little challenge for the former gladiators. Now more wary and determined to rescue Mariah, they grimly penetrate the city.

They hear voices behind a door and crash the portal inwards, only to discover that Mariah is in no apparent danger, having been welcomed by Tragg, a denizen of the city of Skyra. He claims that his pterodactyls had picked up Mariah by mistake. They were supposed to be hunting game to feed Tragg.

Skyra had been built by the Atlanteans before the cataclysm as an airborne defence platform. Tragg was also 'built'. A cyborg, his implants allow him to control every function of the floating city with his thoughts. He is Skyra's sole inhabitant. While Morgan is anxious to have he and his two friends leave immediately, he reluctantly agrees to the showing of a collection offered by Tragg.

Morgan and Machiste enter a darkened room. Mariah is yanked back by Tragg and the two men find themselves locked in a meat locker full of frozen humans. The supplies stopped arriving in Skyra after the great war and Tragg had turned to eating human flesh for sustenance. Jets of freezing liquid coat the pair, quickly immobilising them, and it is only Machiste's supreme effort to free his mace hand that gives them the tool they need to shatter the ice. Once Morgan's hand is free he uses his Ruger to take out the freezing jets. It is easy enough to exit the room and go once again in search of Mariah. First though, they take the time to build gliders to depart the city with.

Meanwhile, Mariah is fighting off the immoral advances of the perverse Tragg, and it is none too soon when Morgan shows up to intercede. He has his gun aimed at Tragg's head, but Tragg is not without his resources and a jet of fire rises out of the floor, catching Morgan by surprise, causing him to drop his gun. Morgan and Machiste find themselves surrounded by a cage of fire.

While Tragg gloats in his dominance, Mariah takes matters in her own hands and dives for Morgan's gun. Grabbing it, she puts a bullet between Tragg's eyes, effectively ending his control of Skyra. As the city plummets into a snowy valley the trio escape in Morgan's homemade hang gliders.

First appearance of Machiste with the mace mounted on his right arm.

Gold Key had a comic book series called Tragg & the Sky Gods.

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 is the first appearance of Machiste's mace hand
  • Tragg's hunting pteranodons weren't able to find any easier picking than plucking Mariah from the palace of Kiro?
  • Atlantean robots are built from sub-standard materials – Morgan is able to tear 'em apart barehanded
  • The Atlanteans made Tragg with scary-sharp teeth for some reason

Where It Comes From
The idea of a floating city is a common one in science fiction and fantasy. It goes back at least to Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726) and the flying island of Laputa. Once such floating city Grell no doubt encountered was Stratos in the 1969 Star Trek episode "The Cloud Minders."

Tragg's appearance recalls (albeit with a different color scheme) the silver-age appearance of the Superman villain, Brainiac – who was also an artificial being (at least after a 1964 retcon).

Tragg's plot and freezing modus operandi are clearly inspired by Box, a robot in the 1976 film adaption of Logan's Run. Box operates a freezing facility for foodstuffs – “Fish, plankton, sea greens… protein from the sea!" – but when the food stopped coming he began freezing and storing escaping runners instead.

Interestingly, though the movie Box is a robot, in the original Nolan and Johnson novel he's a cyborg like Tragg. eom

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