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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Warlord 2 - Machiste debuts

In Warlord 2 (April/May 1976) Mike Grell rushes through a whole bunch of cliches from Roman gladiator films, but with his lovely art and a quick pace it actually works, giving Travis Morgan not only a new friend, but also an entire purpose to his life.

Left tied to a tree to be devoured by wild beasts at the end of the previous issue, Travis Morgan gets freed by Drogar the Terrible, who offer to take him on his ship to Shamballah. Should have be suspicious of anyone named "the Terrible," as Drogar turns out to be another slaver, and Morgan becomes a galley slave.

He is chained and seated next to Machiste. Black characters were still very rare in DC Comics at this time, and Machiste is treated more as an ally than a sidekick by Grell. Morgan tells Machiste of the surface world, though the man does not believe him. Then the ship gets attacked by pirates, and the two get captured and sold off to a gladiator school.

The gladiatorial training makes for a decent montage, and also tidily gives Morgan all the training he needs in the weaponry of Skartaris.

Of course Morgan and Machiste are then forced to fight against each other, to the death, for the amusement of Prince Eris. Morgan wins, but when Eris give the thumbs down, Morgan sees his watch, which Tara had taken, on Eris' wrist. It's a very well done sequence. This leads to Morgan attacking Eris and leading a full out slave revolt. From Eris, Morgan learns that Tara has been caught and sent back to Thera, and that Deimos has used his magic to take control of the city, becoming its king.

So after killing the head of the gladiator school, Morgan becomes the leader of the former slaves, turning them into an army of free men to lead against Thera.

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