Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jealous Alien Women and Really Big Crocodiles: Tragg and the Sky Gods part 3

Though Jessie Santos still paints the cover for Tragg and the Sky Gods #3 (December 1975), Dan Spiegle takes over the interior illustration. Santos' style was perfect for the story, so he will be missed. But I'm a huge Spiegle fan also and he continues to give the story a rawness that makes Don Glut's strong writing even more effective.

At the end of last issue, Tragg's enemy Gorth (who is now brainwashed by the aliens as well as just being a jerk by nature) has convinced the tribe that the Sky Gods are benevolent. Tragg and Lorn are once again exiled.  When the tribe's chiefton allows Gorth to convince him that all their strongest warriors should visit the Sky Gods and say Hi, Tragg's brother Jarn decides its time to leave.

The visit to the Sky Gods goes as well (or rather--as badly) as you would expect. The warriors are easily captured by the raygun-armed aliens and put to work as slaves. The alien leader Zorek as decided to move their base from their damaged space globe to inside a dormant volcano to protect their remaining equipment from dinosaurs. The captured tribesmen are put to work carrying the heavy stuff.

Jarn warns Tragg and Lorn of the danger to the tribe, but when they try to help, Lorn gets knocked into the volcano crater by an attacking Dimorphodon. Darn Dimorphodons. Never trust 'em, says I.

Tragg and Jarn get captured trying to help. The alien guard actually tries to just kill him, but his raygun is too low on power to finish them off. It's an effective reminder of of why the aliens aren't just rampaging across the valley--with their ship damaged, they are low on resources and power.

The story can be said to be very effectively divided into three acts. The capture of Tragg, Lorn and Jarn brings the first act to a close. The second act presents us with a variety of shenanigans going on at the aliens' new volcano base. Keera still has the hots for Tragg, but when he rejects her, she orders Lorn to be deliberately overworked and then punished when she can't keep up. Zorek tries to experiment on Tragg with a De-Evolvo Ray, taking way his genetic enhancements of increased strength and intelligence, but Keera secretly sabotages this. The alien woman is trying to convince herself she now hates Tragg, but can't suppress her feelings for him or her increased doubt about her own peoples' plans.

All this is extremely well-done. Despite the absense of overt action, the pacing does not seem slow while we are provided plot exposition and characterizations are steadily advanced.

Act Three begins when Tragg manages to get the drop on a guard, allowing him, Jarn, Lorn and Korr (the tribes' chief) to make a break for it. This involves running through a chamber inhabited by a giant crocodile, which promptly eats the guard Tragg has taken prisoner during the escape.  This proves fortuitous, though, as the crocodile distracts the pursuing aliens long enough for the good guys to get away.

The story concludes with Tragg and Lorn hoping to find other men to help battle the aliens, while Jarn and Korr head back to the caves to see if they can free the other prisoners.

Tragg and the Sky Gods continues to be an excellent series, with each issue self-contained enough to be enjoyed on its own, but still advancing the overall story arc. Add to this exciting action and interesting characters and we continue to read through a comic book series that should be better remembered and appreciated than it is.

Next week, we return to the Old West, where Roy Rogers is trying to find a... Secret Stagecoach Graveyard?

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