Warlord v4 #12

May 10

22 pages

Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mike Grell
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colourist: David Curiel
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Mike Grell

Travis Morgan, Ewan McBane, Shakira, Mariah, Machiste, Deimos, Katherine Archer, Alysha Grant, Jennifer Morgan, Tara, Tinder/Joshua

Morgan and his troupe are galloping full speed back to Shamballah. Morgan knows full well he should have listened to Tinder sooner, but it doesn’t prevent McBane from being surprised when the mighty Warlord admits his failings.

They arrive at Shamballah to find it in ruins. As they clear the tree line, the weapons Deimos and Kate activated last issue begin firing upon them. Tinder calls to them from the city gates and Morgan and the group rush under the fire of the weapons to safety. Tinder has lost all the men he had rallied to the fight and he is not above taking Morgan to task for not being there when he was needed. Morgan rushes off to Tara.

In the palace, Deimos and Kate spy on Morgan. Kate wishes to see the Warlord killed now, but Deimos is patient. Kate leaves him, visiting Alysha who is chained to a pillar, realising she cannot control Deimos because he does not live for normal human passions. He only wishes to destroy Morgan. Kate, with her own desire to rule, will make her play once Deimos and Morgan have fought. Kate attempts to seduce the captive girl, both with power and... something more. When Alysha passes, Kate still leaves the girl with the key to her shackles.

Up in Jennifer’s tower, Morgan finds Tara wounded, but she will survive. Jennifer is less sure about the life that grows in Tara’s belly. Together again, the couple exchange affections and Morgan re-pledges the dream he abandoned so long ago. They shall rebuild Shamballah and make Skartaris the paradise it should have been. Now, he must leave her one last time to fight the final battle with Deimos.

While Morgan prepares, Tinder confronts him telling the Warlord the battle is no longer personal. While Deimos watches, recounting how he destroyed Morgan’s spirit by using a doppelgänger of Joshua which Morgan was forced to kill, Tinder tries to force the point with Morgan. Morgan, like Deimos, is focussed only on his hatred for his foe, and fights off the young man. As they exchange blows, Morgan rips the leather bag containing Tinder’s talisman off his neck. “Put your faith in a strong right hand,” Morgan says. Tinder knocks him back and Morgan drops the talisman, the leather pouch opening as it falls, revealing Morgan’s gold watch.

In the palace, as Deimos watches, Kate decides now is the time to seize power, sneaking up on Deimos from behind. As she raises the knife in her hand to strike, Deimos turns, laughing and turns his treacherous ally into a black rat.

Morgan stands over Tinder, about to strike again when the freed Alysha enters at the run. She cries out, trying to warn Morgan. He sees the watch and is stunned by the revelation that Tinder is Joshua. Frozen, he does not parry Joshua’s sword thrust, and the Warlord is mortally wounded, falling into Shakira’s arms. Morgan’s last words are to his son, “I thought we’d have more time.”

In Jennifer’s tower, Deimos has appeared firing arcane energy at Morgan’s allies. Deimos tells Tara that Travis Morgan is dead and he will have her for himself. Holding a dagger to her chest, the Queen of Shamballah tells him coldly she will sheath her blade in her chest if he tries.

Suddenly, the Warlord appears backlit in the doorway with Shakira the cat at his feet, shocking Deimos who thought his despised foe had been killed. It is Joshua wearing his father’s metal and he bears Deimos backwards as Shakira removes the cover from the mirror portal to Wizard World. Deimos falls through and Shakira smashes the mirror.

The battle over, Joshua sees to his mother and introduces himself as her son.

Morgan is given a warrior’s funeral, his body set alight. His dream shall live on in his family and friends.

Meanwhile, Kate the rat skitters through the palace, seeking out the Mask of Life. However, she will not be able to use it again as Shakira pounces on her.

Grell closes Travis Morgan’s story arc with his death, a rather unambiguous death. It makes perfect sense from a storytelling perspective that one possibility has Morgan atoning for his self-perceived crime of killing his ‘son’ in Warlord v1 #21, by not defending himself when the real Joshua unintentionally kills him in return. However, to lose a character with a rich history is a risky proposition to a vested fan base, and it is cruel to readers who have been waiting decades for the resolution of this story arc to have Morgan die as soon as he comes to the realisation that Tinder was Joshua.

Admittedly, Warlord fandom is small these days, and perhaps the new direction with Joshua as the Warlord will invigorate sales and save the book from cancellation. But it could also mean that sales will drop further without Travis as the lead because that was why we were here. If we weren’t buying Warlord in sufficient numbers to keep it going, then perhaps it would have been best to let the book die without killing Travis, playing the all-too-common dead hero card. eom

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