|Cover Art by Jesse Santos|
Tragg and the Sky Gods #6 (Sept. 1976) picks up with Tragg and Lorn still on a road trip, looking for reinforcements to fight the Sky Gods.
At first, the situation appears to be looking up as they find a tribe of humans that have tamed and learned to ride a herd of styracosaurus' (called "spike-lizards" in the story). A herd of charging ceratopians would be a pretty handy weapon agaisnt the bad guys.
But the tribe--like pretty much every other primitive tribe ever encountered in dinosaur fiction--has a rule about killing all strangers. Turok and Andar used to run into the same thing all the time. I don't know what it is about primitive human tribes that have to co-exist with dinosaurs. It always seems to leave everyone involved really cranky.
Dan Spiegle continues to do excellent work with the interior art (though I continue to miss the rawness of Jesse Santos' pencils--it was just a better fit for the title) and Donald Glut once again gives us a relatively self-contained tale that still advances the main story arc.
While Tragg is desperately trying to invent diplomancy, the Sky Gods are having trouble of their own. Zorek, their leader, claims to come up with a way of obliterating the local humans who escaped captivity a few issues back. The reason they hadn't pushed forward with that effort is because they have no way to recharge what little power remains in their blasters--at least not until reinforcements from their home planet arrive. But Zorek claims to have a plan that takes that into account.
One of the others, named Ferenk, thinks Zorak's hatred of Tragg has sent him off the deep end. Ferenk also has the hots for Keera, whom Zorak has imprisoned for treason. So the love-struck alien springs Keera from her cell, gives her a blaster and a jet pack, and sends her on her way.
She immediately decides to track down Lorn and kill her, still figuring that "as long as she lives, Tragg will never be mine!" Actually, openly murdering the woman Tragg loves seems like a poor way to impress him.
In the meantime, Tragg gets into the good graces of the new tribe's chief by saving his son from a carnosaur.
But when Keera shows up, the attitude of the tribe is torn. Tragg did save a child's life, but Keera is able to fly and must be a god. She's claiming Lorn is a demon and must be killed.
Well, the solution is obvious, of course. Have the two ladies fight a duel to the death.
That duel lasts several pages and is nicely choreographed by Spiegle. In the end, Keera tumbles into a pit and Tragg has to pull her out. She's beaten, the tribe decides to ally itself with Tragg and Keera opts to stay behind at the tribe's village--she's now without a home anywhere. Her blaster, by the way, is destroyed during the fight.
Setting up the duel so that it ends with Tragg showing mercy and saving Keera can be seen as cliched, but cliches often exist because they are effective storytelling tools and here Don Glut does use it effectively. Tragg's actions are perfectly in character for him and Keera's humbled reaction (she tells him of Zorak's plan to destroy the remnants of his tribe) is part of legitimate character growth for her. I continue to be very impressed with the skill with which Donald Glut is telling this story.
Next week, we return to World War II to see how writer Roy Thomas continued to fight the war when he left Marvel and went to DC.