Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Three things out of the early 1970's

I mentioned in my last post that I've been reading some reprints of the Avengers from 1969-1971 (sort of the "bronze age" of Marvel) and that I had an unexpected, well, let's call it a "bonus."  Our tale begins with this fellow from Avengers #75:

Arkon the Magnificent
Did you know John Buscema also drew Conan the Barbarian?  Of course you did, and what better way to capitalize on that fact than to have a figure from a sword-and-sorcery world make his way into the Avengers universe?  And, just as a bonus, you get two of the things I mentioned last time about this era: wince-inducing storytelling and social commentary.

So here's the set-up.  Arkon is the warlord of a violent planet named Polemachus lit by a ring of asteroids circling around it (its "heated from within" so that's not an issue).  When the asteroids begin to dim, the world is plunged into darkness, killing off all plant life and encouraged famine and plague (Polemachus already had a lot of war and death, so this was a real problem).  But, as it turns out, atomic blasts from Earth provided light for Polemachus, so all its leader Arkon had to do was to go to Earth, kidnap a few atomic scientists, and make them create a powerful atomic device that would then be transported back to Earth and detonated, thus providing Polemachus with light for eons to come.

But, as an added bonus, Arkon also decided to kidnap the Scarlet Witch, who at the time had lost her powers and left the Avengers.  Despite the fact that his entire cockamamie scheme involved destroying all life on Earth, the Scarlet Witch still found herself attracted to Arkon.  Well the Avengers make their way to Polemachus thanks to Thor's magic hammer's ability to do anything, battle Arkon and his armies, and then follow him back to Earth to battle him once more in New York City while he is waving around a nuclear tennis ball and has the Scarlet Witch slung over his shoulder.  I should say, some of the Avengers go back to New York--Thor and Iron Man, who are really mostly secondary plot characters at this point, have managed to whip up a device to restore luminescence to Polemachus' asteroid belt, thus saving his world as well.  Having learned his lesson (for now), Arkon gives Scarlet Witch a flower, and she begins to realize how attracted she is to really dysfunctional non-human men.

Now, one of the things I really did like about this story was the planet Polemachus, which could easily have been what happened if the Hyborean Age never stopped by kept on going.  Here's the best pic of what I'm talking about.

I just don't know where to begin: the leather headbands, the lizard-horses, or the giant, spiky, phallus-shaped tank barrels, but it's all awesome.

So, to continue my tale, I read the Arkon story right before bed, and then fell asleep. I ended up dreaming about this funky D&D module series taking place on a world looking a lot like Polemachus.  One of the little theories kicking around the gaming blogosphere is that the original D&D world was not so much a fantasy realm as a post-apocalyptic one.  Thankfully I've retained a bit of that dream and now I'm thinking I might try to get some of it to paper--an OSR-style module series featuring a setting that's a little more overt in its post-apocalyptic nature than even normal D&D fare.

1 comment:

  1. I thought D&D was a Tolkien knockoff mixed with Harryhausen Sinbad?