"Dax the Warrior" (a.k.a., "Dax the Damned") is often given credit as being EERIE's first serial, but that honor actually goes to the short-lived "Prince Targo" (who was Warren's rip-off of Aquaman), whose first story premiered two issues earlier (in EERIE #37). "Dax the Warrior" was EERIE's second series and it lasted longer than every other Warren serial other than those belonging to the company's stalwarts Vampirella, Pantha, and the Rook. Dax is quite possibly one of Warren's most recognizable characters, and the first part of the series ran for a time when almost no other series was appearing in EERIE, dating back to 1971. It was largely Dax's success that encouraged the Warren staff to eventually experiment with other continuing serials in EERIE, ultimately transforming the title into a magazine featuring continuing serials rather than stand-alone stories, thus paving the way for the creation of the Warrenverse. In THE WARREN COMPANION, the serial is said to be an English translation of Esteban Maroto's Spanish strip "Manly," whereas David Karlen's art blog seems to imply that "Dax the Warrior" was an entirely original strip that simply borrowed elements from Maroto's "Manly" strip (as well as elements from another Spanish sword and sorcery strip of his, "Wolff"; if anyone reading this index happens to know which is more accurate, please let me know via e-mail or the guest book and I will then update this index accordingly). Maroto would continue writing and drawing the character of Dax for the entirety of its run in EERIE. As a result, the tone of the series remained the same throughout its run even though the serial was largely directionless with simple plots and uncomplicated characterizations.
The series had a definite lack of continuity to it, usually seeming to begin with Dax visiting some ancient faraway land (or, in one case, another planet) on his own, finding some woman to take as a lover (and then losing her to the fickle whims of fate), and battling and defeating some type of horrid monster. There was rarely any mention of places in the series (unlike the Conan stories) so we never got a good map of the world during Dax's time period.
During the early 1970s, sword and sorcery was quite popular in comics, as Marvel was publishing CONAN THE BARBARIAN at the time (and soon afterwards the black and white [b&w] comic mag THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN THE BARBARIAN; Conan also had a run in the early issues of Marvel's early '70s b&w comic mag SAVAGE TALES). It seemed only logical for Warren to follow through with a sword and sorcery hero of its own, and since Esteban Maroto already had a distinguished track record behind him in the genre with "Manly" and "Wolffe," it was a foregone conclusion that Warren would choose Dax for one of its earliest serials. Dax evidently lived in the Wold Newton Universe [WNU] at a point in history even further back into the past than Conan, perhaps being a contemporary with Robert E. Howard's other barbarian creation, Kull. It was a mythical era of civilization before recorded history that Dax dwelled in, and it was full of beautiful scantily-clad maidens just waiting to be rescued and sexed up by an adventuring hero, monsters of every bizarre sort, and villainous practitioners of magick. Dax was a largely depressing series, as tragedy followed him along everywhere, and this remained the case right up until the grim and depressing finale to the series (Dax did have a definitive resolution to his serial).
Esteban Maroto was a well-known artist with a talent for the pen, and his artwork set the perfect mood for "Dax the Warrior." Though Maroto did much fondly-remembered artwork for Warren during the early '70s, Dax's strip was the only writing he did for the company. Maroto wasn't renowned for his writing, and this shows in Dax's serial with the distinct lack of direction and continuity that I mentioned before (which may be the reason why Warren had scribe Budd Lewis produce new scripts for the ten stories that appeared in Dax's collected edition in EERIE #59). Though Maroto tackled some notable themes in his series, Dax was all about fantasy and escapist fare much more than it was didactic in any way. Some of the stories did contain something of a message, be it about death or sage observations of living the life of a warrior, but mostly Dax steered clear of heavy intellectualizing. Though it was a popular strip and one of the most well-known to run in EERIE it certainly wasn't EERIE's most well written series but it's likely to be sought after by collectors of fantasy today. It's an enthralling read for those with an interest in the sword and sorcery genre, and it would certainly sit well for people who enjoy the more violent type of hero. In short, Dax was a good fantasy diversion for those who like to imagine themselves, or their hero, being a buff, strong, and determined he-man who travels around a dangerous fantasy world defeating monsters and bedding women (who always seemed to be nude or nearly nude in Dax's world). And Maroto knew how to draw women, as this series proved.
Dax's proclivity towards violence was no different from that of Conan, as he lived in a very violent and uncivilized era where one was required to be a powerful warrior in order to survive in the world. As such, it may be possible to view Dax as a bona fide hero rather than as an anti-hero, as he did often try to do the noble and honorable thing even if he was merciless in dealing with his foes. His sense of rugged individualism probably sit well with many men who read the series back in its time and he could easily serve as a fantasy lover for women who liked the type of unfettered machismo that this character represented. We know relatively little of his world, save that it was a very dangerous place, and a perfect locale for which to find adventure. Dax was so popular that he returned twice (via time travel elements) after his series was resolved, handled by Rich Margopoulos in both instances, a writer who seemed to have a knack for reviving Warren characters that had left their series behind, and who also had a penchant for crossovers. Thanks to Margopoulos, Dax joined the greater Warrenverse around him and he and his time period are cemented parts of the WNU. Margopoulos, perhaps inspired by Marvel, did much to establish several of the Warren characters as part of a greater shared universe.
Any creative mythographer with an interest in doing research on past eras of human history should definitely look this serial up (Jay Lindsey has expressed an interest in one day formulating a timeline of the pre-modern ages in the WNU, so stay tuned). I'm certain that many readers felt a pang of sadness when Dax's saga finally reached a conclusion that mirrored the tragedy he so often encountered in his brave but dour life as an adventurer during a forgotten era in humanity's past.
"Dax the Warrior"
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
The first story begins with Dax wearily returning home to his native land (it may be Sobol's unnamed kingdom, as seen in EERIE #120) following his victory in a very bloody war. As Dax pulls his equally weary horse past a river, he spots a beautiful young woman diving into the water. Smitten with her beauty, Dax likewise dives into the water and the two quickly become lovers. He finds that the girl's name is Freya [probably an assumed name, as this story took place long before the Norse gods were known and worshipped; see Comments section below]. As the two of them sit in each others' arms, the girl tells Dax that she wants to leave the area because, "This is not the land for a love such as ours. Let us escape." Dax replies that he doesn't need to escape, for he fears no one, not even the gods [see Comments below].
Suddenly, Dax and his lover are attacked by a huge, grotesque winged creature with what appeared to be a humanoid rider mounting it [but don't ask me where it came from]. Since Dax was bereft of his sword at the time, he was unable to fight the creature off, and the humanoid aboard the creature severely cut him with a whip-like weapon. The creature then made off with Freya. Returning to his mount and re-acquiring his sword, Dax rode off in search of his lover, vowing never to rest until he found her. Finding an inhabited cavern that Dax realized was the lair of the foe he was seeking, the intrepid warrior entered the cavern to find what appeared to be visions of huge humanoid monsters with the torn corpses of human women in their hands (this was never explained any further, which was one of the weaknesses of Maroto's scripting). He was promptly confronted by a cloaked human male figure who told him to leave that cavern forever. But Dax was determined not to leave without Freya, and the cloaked figure told him, "Your memory of her is beautiful. Let her face accompany you for the rest of your days, until you find another woman with a face far more beautiful!"
Not heeding the warning, Dax continued to search for Freya, as he passed the mutilated remains of several victims of some of the bizarre beasts within that lair. Finally finding Freya being victimized by one of the beasts (it resembled a huge lizard with a human-like head) Dax quickly slew the creature and retrieved his lover. As Dax retreated from the cavern, the hooded figure appeared again and said that he was surprised that Dax had managed to save the girl, but he has since learned not to underestimate what a man is capable of if he is determined enough. However, as Dax is about to kiss the woman whose body he carried out of the cavern, the hooded figure warned him not to do so, because Freya's entire body was infected with a severe form of leprosy.
Comments: This first tale of Dax the Warrior was memorable for the distinctive artwork by Esteban Maroto more than anything else. Like all tales of Dax by Maroto, it had a simple plot that didn't bother to explain everything. No Dax tale ended in a cliffhanger so it was never known how much time passed between each story, and I will have to do quite a bit of guesswork for the Time Frame sections below. However, because Dax remained young throughout his appearances it can be surmised that all the stories occurred within the span of a few to several years, perhaps about ten to fifteen years in all. By the time this story started, Dax was already a well-established, renowned warrior in his time period. His origin was never revealed.
At some point following this story, Dax would interact with other denizens of the Warrenverse on two occasions thanks to time travel. The first time, he would encounter a time-traveling Bishop Dane in the crossover story from EERIE #120 (indexed below). The second time he was snatched out of time to the year 1981 A.D., where he was briefly used as a weapon against Vampirella and her allies by the evil scientist/wizard Ten Ichi in the Vampirella and the Time Force story in EERIE #130 (indexed elsewhere on this site). Dax was one of the members of the first 'Time Force' snatched by Ten Ichi in that story.
Since the Dax stories began appearing in EERIE well before any other series appeared (save for the very short-lived "Prince Targo"), Cousin Eerie hosted the first several Dax entries, something he rarely did for continuing serials.
In these stories it was shown that Dax and others in his time period worshipped or at least believed in a polytheistic pantheon of deities, which were rarely ever named and none of which ever appeared. In this story, Dax mentioned a god called Eros, but this may be an assumed name by the author since it was unlikely that this was the same deity as Eros the Greek god of love. As noted above in the synopsis, it's also unlikely that Dax's lover in this story was actually named Freya, since that is the name of the Norse goddess of love, fertility, and magick and this story occurred long before the race of gods known as the Vanir were known to the inhabitants of Earth.
This story had a typical tragic ending, like many of the Dax stories. It was always depressing to see Dax lose yet another lover to the capricious whims of fate, but it soon became clear that he was destined to be alone even though he was quite a ladies' man.
The cloaked and hooded man in this story was never explained, nor was the nature of the winged creature and its rider revealed; it would appear that such creatures roamed the landscape (or the sky) of whatever land Dax happened to in at any given time, scrounging for human victims. Like all the tales in the series, Maroto never seemed overly concerned with explaining elements of the stories.
WNU Connections: The Dax serial was interesting in that it took place over 24,000 years in the past, before Atlantis sunk [see the index for EERIE #120 below], possibly before the time of King Kull of Valusia, and long before the Hyborean Age when Conan and Red Sonja flourished. It seemed to have taken place after Tolkein's Middle Earth had vanished from the Earth, at a time when magick still reigned supreme and many magickal beings and entities were extant over the Earth, and many portals to various pocket dimensions could be accessed. Dax's crossover with Bishop Dane in EERIE #120 officially brought him and his time period into the WNU.
Time Frame: Though it was never made clear in any of Dax's stories exactly how far back in the past his tales took place, it was quite clear that his time period preceded the Hyborean Age of the WNU, and the story from EERIE #120 ("The Warrior and the Gunfighter") was listed as occurring in the year 24,000 B.C. by Win Scott Eckert in his Rook Chronology (see the Links section of this site), probably due to its mentioning of Atlantis. Since I work within Win's framework I will be considering his listing of Dax's time period in the Rook Chronology to be canon for this series. As such, I conjecture that this story took place no more than a year or two prior to 24,000 B.C.
"The Paradise Tree"
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
As this tale opened, Dax had just killed a wild boar for food and he was preparing to cook the beast (he appeared to be on his own in an unfamiliar land, as was usually the case in these stories). Walking up to a tree to pull some of its branches off so as to acquire some kindling to start a fire, Dax was perturbed to find that the branches seemed to resist his attempts to break one off "as if alive." Despite how rotten the tree was, not even Dax's axe could chop one of the branches off. Suddenly, the branches became animate, grabbed Dax, and dropped him into a cavern in the ground.
Seemingly falling into a "bottomless abyss," Dax was rendered unconscious, and when he finally awakened he found several human skeletons laying around him, reminders that he was not the first person to be taken there by the mysterious trees' branches. Following a light in the distance, the warrior found a huge glowing structure with an opening that resembled the open maw of a giant snake's head. Upon entering, Dax found many beautiful women within, and one of them introduced herself as one of the many slaves in the palace of their mistress Astartea [Astarte? See Comments below]. After introducing the warrior to their mega-hot mistress, Astartea told Dax that everything in that palace was hers and that she could grant him anything he wanted. Realizing how low Dax's strength was, Astartea ordered several of her slave woman to give him a bath [lucky dude!].
Upon greeting Astartea again, Dax told her that his only wish was to leave the palace. Astartea couldn't understand why he wanted to depart when all his wishes could be made true there. "I cannot answer your question," Dax replied. "How am I to explain the ways of a free man, beholden to no one…the freedom to come and go as the wind?" It was then that Astartea revealed that everything she had was the result of a treaty she made with demonic beings, and she was a slave to this treaty. Wanting to forget her situation, Astartea seduced Dax and the two made love.
After the two made love, Dax perceived visions of several strange mythological creatures as he slept. Awakening to the smell of incense from a burning censor in front of him, Astartea told him that the conditions of her servitude were embodied in that censor; it granted her all she wanted, but in return for this she could never leave the palace. Dax offered to smash the censor and take his new lover out of that place, but she refused to do so. Becoming frustrated, Dax shattered the censor, only to have the palace crumble and all the women save for Astartea wither away into dead husks.
It was then that the demon lord Ashtaroth appeared, and as Dax watched helplessly, the ultra-powerful demon told Astartea that he would have to punish her for "scorning" the gift he had given her by changing her back into what she was before he gave her human form. Though Astartea begged not to be transformed back into her original form, and asked to be killed instead, Ashtaroth nevertheless transformed her back into the snake that he always carried in one hand in his various depictions in demonological texts.
Comments: As before, much in this story wasn't explained, and this is the case for all the other stories in the series (which is possibly why Warren had Budd Lewis re-write many of these tales for Dax's collected edition in EERIE #59, as noted above in the Introduction). So I won't mention this problem with Maroto's scripts anymore, though from this point onwards you can expect these stories to lack well-conceived plots and logic (I will attempt to explain some of these plot inconsistencies whenever possible).
This story makes it clear that the demon lord Ashtaroth, who is found in 'Real' Universe [RU] demonological texts, was active in the multiverse long before Christianity saw the light of day and the conception of the Devil was created. It's possible that Astartea was a slightly bastardized version of the goddess Astarte, as Christianity demonized much of these ancient deities, particularly the Sumerian gods. However, this story seemed to presume that Ashtaroth appeared in his man-goat form before the Christian era, and this is unlikely IMO, as it's much more plausible that Ashtaroth took this form to adhere to the preconceptions of the Christians after the New Testament, who bastardized and demonized the Pagan image of the Horned God and the Greek nature deity Pan into the archetype of the Devil. So it's more probable that Ashtaroth appeared in a different form here, even though he was depicted in his later man-goat form by Maroto in this story.
WNU Connections: This story may depict the earliest known appearance of Ashtaroth in the chronicles of the WNU.
Time Frame: It's unknown how long after the previous story that this one took place, and it's not even known if most of the stories in this serial took place in the order in which they were published (I'm operating under the conceit that they were in order to make this Index easier for my readers to follow). It may have taken place anywhere from a few months to a year after the previous story.
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
Roaming about an unknown land alone on horseback [as usual] in the midst of a roiling storm, Dax was suddenly snatched by what appeared to be a cosmic being of some sort [see Comments below] and brought to a place that was set up to look like a huge palace somewhere in the space/time continuum. Dax noticed that the floor of the palace seemed to resemble a chess game board [but didn't this story take place long, long before the game of chess was invented? I'm presuming that the game Dax was familiar with was an early equivalent of chess and may have inspired the actual game of chess that we in the RU are familiar with in the Warrenverse]. Dax was greeted by a bald humanoid figure who referred to himself as the Chess Warrior [possibly an assumed name or incarnation] and who said that he summoned the warrior here because his "fame in battle" had come to this being's attention.
Telling Dax that his own weapons are "wit and ingenuity" rather than "steel-spawned muscle," the Chess Warrior said that he was the "Chess Master of the Universe," and that Dax was his challenger. The Chess Warrior told Dax, "Your experience as a warrior has failed to take into account the purely intellectual aspect of battle…
"…it is time you learn that strength without thought…without knowledge and imagination, can only win the simplest of combats!"
The Chess Warrior then materialized the chess pieces that would be used in the game…Dax's pieces consisted of living individuals that resembled his father, friends, and many of his relatives that had since died [they were possibly snatched from elsewhere in the timestream]. The Chess Warrior then told Dax that if these living chess pieces died in the game, they would be lost to him forever. Though Dax called out to his father and asked him for advice, he found, to his consternation, that none of these individuals could move or speak except as pieces of the board under Dax's direction. The Chess Warrior then materialized his own team, which was all a bunch of evil monsters and demonic warriors.
The game then began, and Dax found that he was no match in this contest for the being who was the Chess Master of the Universe, as his old friend Sotnas was killed by one of the demonic creatures that moved onto his square. More and more of Dax's side fell to the Chess Warrior until only his father (functioning as his king) and the kindly warrior Kag (a pawn) were left. Finally, the Chess Warrior called checkmate with his queen (in the form of a vampiric female warrior) and she began slashing at Dax's father with her sword. Determined to save his father, Dax broke the rules of the game and attacked the evil she-warrior with his own sword, slaying her. Angered at Dax's behavior after he had lost the game fair and square according to the Chess Warrior's rules, the latter being sent Dax back to Earth.
Dax found himself alone on the very watery ground that he had been taken…except for the decapitated and mutilated head of his father, thus making it clear to the warrior how much he lost in the game.
Comments: Although Dax didn't lose a woman in this story (as he often did), he nevertheless suffered perhaps a far greater loss, one that was quite depressing to the reader. This may be the most interesting and unique story that Maroto scribed for this serial (save perhaps for the final entry in the series).
This was the only time in the series that one of Dax's parents-his father-was featured, and he was revealed to be deceased (he died a second time, thanks to Dax losing the cosmic chess game).
Author and artist Maroto seemed to delight in drawing creative-looking monstrous beings of a vast variety of phenotypes, and they were in evidence for this story. The Chess Warrior looked way cool under Maroto's pencils.
The Chess Warrior's chess pieces, i.e., monstrous combatants received the cover of this issue of EERIE, rendered very competently by Manuel Sanjulian.
WNU Connections: The Chess Warrior was perhaps one of the cosmic beings (perhaps extraterrestrial or extradimensional in origin) of the WNU, and he appeared to be surpassingly powerful and dedicated to games of skill. It's possible that he was the WNU counterpart to the Grandmaster of the Marvel Universe [MU]. It's unknown whether the equivalent of chess was the only game he played or had unsurpassed skill in.
Time Frame: This story took place anywhere between a few months to a year after the previous story.
"Let the Evil One Sleep"
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
In the beginning of this story, Dax was trekking through a desert on horseback, his body weary from heat exhaustion and thirst, and also inundated by several wounds from a battle that he had recently partaken in [this battle wasn't depicted, and presumably happened sometime between the last story and the beginning of this one]. Collapsing into the sand, Dax was actually wishing for death to relieve him of the pain, heat exhaustion, and thirst when he suddenly noticed that the environment had completely changed; he now lay before a wooded area with a stream of water. Quickly diving into the water and supping, he suddenly noticed that he wasn't alone…a beautiful, nearly naked woman stood behind him [Dax seems to have met more beautiful women than any other sword and sorcery hero…this one was a brunette, for a change]. He didn't know if all of this was a mirage or a pain-induced illusion, though the environment and the woman appeared to be real (but he was wary of them both).
The woman introduced herself as Lilith [possibly an assumed name; she wasn't the same being as the primeval vampiress who was also revealed to be Vampirella's mother during her Harris years], and she told Dax that she called this land of hers "paradise" and that he was free to share in all the pleasures which it had to offer him. When Dax told Lilith that he was a soldier who could only "accept the rational, not the imposs[ible]," she replied, "Soldier! War! Malevolence! Is that what you wish to return to? Are you a fool?"
She then told the warrior that she didn't mean to travel that way and they must immediately depart.
Walking through the large forest, Dax and Lilith came upon a platform with the cloaked figure of man (with face unseen) laying in an apparent catatonic state upon it. Asking Lilith who that was, she responded that he was called "the Evil One." She told Dax that, "I took you in from the desert to be reborn. Never mind how. Allow my love to bathe you neverending. You are reborn, and your name is…Adam" [an allusion to the Garden of Eden, perhaps?]. Lilith then explained that the Evil One attempted to "conquer paradise" and "bend [her] to his unclean ways and will." She won in the end, and now he slept, perhaps dreaming of "becoming one" with the forest surrounding him.
Lilith then brought Dax to their intended home (it looked somewhat like a structure with a gigantic canopy that resembled a huge mushroom) and the two of them proceeded to make love. She told Dax that she loved him and wanted to have his children. After they were finished, she told Dax (whom she continued to call "Adam") that they have all they could ever wish for, and she wondered if he wanted more. He told her that he desired game to hunt since he wasn't a vegetarian and he also wanted to know precisely where he was. Lilith was incensed that Dax still wanted to slaughter animals for food and refused to give up his warrior ways when he now had paradise before him, but he told her that he was indeed a warrior, that his name was not Adam, that he was descended from "a long and proud line of warriors," and that he was "faulted but untamed."
Suddenly, from literally out of nowhere, several monstrous beings that resembled rotting human carcasses suddenly materialized and began attacking Lilith. Dax attempted to draw his sword and aid her, but he found himself paralyzed by some unknown force. Suddenly, "cold" thoughts began to permeate his mind, and he found himself wanting to see Lilith die. However, in an extreme act of will, his warrior spirit subdued the coldness now invading his mind and he shrugged off the paralysis and slashed the skeletal beings, causing them to seemingly disintegrate. Realizing that those creatures appeared out of the dreams of the snoozing Evil One, and that the latter being was apparently responsible for his paralysis and "cold" thoughts, Dax realized that this man was not defeated and that he must be slain.
Lilith urged Dax not to give in to his warrior passions [even though they just evidently saved her life], but Dax said that he would make their paradise safe for their children, and that their children shall be warriors like him. As they approached the sleeping form of the Evil One upon the platform in the forest, this man suddenly conjured forth another creature from his dreams, this one resembling a huge dragon that seemed to be attacking Dax. Finally giving into Dax's penchant for violence, as if his persona suddenly invaded her own, Lilith plunged his dagger into the sleeping form of the Evil One, and it was then that Dax realized the Evil One's face was his own.
Awakening on the desert ground to find his own shoulder skewered by his dagger, Lilith and the utopian woods had vanished, with her parting words in his mind being, "He never truly parted from you, did he? Did he?" Dax found himself racked with thirst again, and the closing text of the story told us, "Far away, she sobbed, and cried a name. She was alone. She bore a child…"
Comments: This story was perhaps the most confusing that Maroto gave us in the series. It was never clear if Dax's experiences in the forest with Lilith were simply a mirage or pain- and -thirst induced illusions, or if it was an actual mystical experience. The story seemed to show Dax's inner nature and predilection towards violence and the unforgiving way of the warrior warring against himself, with Lilith being the personification of the gentler nature buried deep within his being that was attempting to make him embrace peace and love. It wasn't a very good story and it only served to depress the readers yet again by making Dax lose yet another love interest. It's a shame that Dax's series couldn't end on a happy note like this (though I'm sure many fans were glad that the serial continued after this). Lilith's actions appeared to be eventually corrupted by Dax's warrior persona, thus causing him to fully embrace the ways of the "Evil One" (i.e., the warrior aspect of his persona).
Time Frame: This story evidently took place anywhere from a few months to a year after the previous story, giving enough time for Dax to find himself far away from the locale in the last story and in a desert wasteland in time for this story. No locations were ever given in the "Dax the Warrior" serial (save for the island of Kriwo-Aes in the next story and the apparent island of Atlantis in the Bishop Dane and Dax story in EERIE #120) and it's unknown how Dax removed himself from the precarious situation he found himself in at the beginning and ending of this story (i.e., trapped in the desert and beaten down by a combination of injuries from battle, heat exhaustion, and thirst). However, by the beginning of the next story he had somehow survived this situation and managed to move to yet another locale.
"Lake of Gold"
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
An unnamed village has been plundered and enslaved by a warrior named Sarko and his men. An old wise man from the tribe that was just conquered was exclaiming, "Attend my words! Death may lack life-but it is better than slavery!" He then began loudly encouraging his oppressed tribesman to rise up and challenge Sarko and his gang, and fall if need be with "honor and dignity." Determined to grant this old man his wish, Sarko slew the wise man with his sword.
Leaving the injured villagers behind on the beach, Sarko mounted the able-bodied slaves onto his (ornately decorated) ship, only to run into a fierce storm. To avoid the ship being swamped, Sarko ordered his men to throw all the slaves overboard. All of the slaves ended up either drowning or getting devoured by sharks.
Realizing that the leaking ship needed repairs, Sarko ordered his men to set sail for the nearby island of Kriwo-Aes. One of his men reminded him that according to legend, this land was roamed by a sea god; to which Sarko replied, "then, we'll test God's strength and skill-against my imperial archers!" Finally coming ashore on Kriwo-Aes, Sarko and his men were greeted by a group of beautiful, scantily-clad women…and their leader, Dax [but how did he get here? See Comments below].
Dax informed Sarko and his crew that there were no other men on the island, and that his subjects were all "maidens-of unspeakable beauty!" Sarko noted to himself that one particular blond woman he noticed was probably worth as much as a thousand male slaves. Sarko then gave Dax a proposal…if he and his subjects helped him repair his ship, he would bring them all to civilization (though he didn't let Dax know that he intended to bring them there as slaves). Dax mounted a generous feast for Sarko and his men in honor of their pact.
When Dax told Sarko that there were more wonders on that island than he at first imagined, Sarko asked him what he meant by that, to which Dax retorted that there was a cave filled with precious metals and jewels. He also offered to give Sarko and his crew their share of this booty for getting them off the island. Sarko told him that such a payment wasn't necessary, but he was curious about the treasure and wanted to see it at once.
True to his word, Dax showed Sarko a small portion of the treasure, and told him that much more was in nearby Ruby Lake [upon seeing the treasures, Sarko exclaimed, "By Satan's hell-spawned hordes!", though since this story took place long before the familiar image of Satan was part of the public consciousness it was likely that Sarko actually spoke an oath to some other being, who was Satan's equivalent in that time period…the fact that Sarko used Satan's name in an oath was probably to let the readers know that he was evil]. When Sarko asked about the lake, Dax told him that his high priestess contended that there were sirens in the water worshipping an idol sculpted of rock. Sarko said he wanted to see these sirens and the other treasures in a mocking tone, and Dax replied, "Only a fool mocks what he does not understand!" Sarko said that he didn't fear such legends, and when he said they would visit Ruby Lake as soon as possible, Dax said they would have to follow a canal to the heart of the island. Even though the repairs of the ship were not yet completed, Sarko said they would depart for the lake at dawn. Dax agreed, but insisted that the women accompany them.
As the crew traveled through the canal, the women began to sing "a weird, chill-haunted melody" [anyone with knowledge of Greco-Roman mythology should know what is coming by now]. Finding the treasure down below, Sarko wanted Dax to bring him the gold, and he agreed they would do so to pay for their passage on the ship.
As the women dive into the water, they begin performing a ritual around the huge stone idol, while Dax brandished a dagger and swam underneath the ship, pulling the planks off the bottom of the vessel, thus damaging it further. The ship immediately began sinking, and Sarko resolved to slay Dax and his subjects for their apparent treachery. As the men jumped into the water to swim back to shore, there to take revenge on Dax and his subjects, they were horrified to see that all of the women morphed into the form of aquatic monsters, and they proceeded to tear Sarko and his men to ribbons (which was apparently why the body of water was named Ruby Lake…get it?).
Watching the slaughter from shore, Dax noted that he was recently taken as a slave, but he escaped to Kriwo-Aes, where the sirens inhabiting that island thought he was a sea god and declared him their king. As the sirens shifted back to human form to rejoin Dax on shore, the text noted that "sometimes-just sometimes-Dax understands the formless feeling of fear…"
Comments: Though this was an interesting tale that provided the readers with a sense of grim justice to see Sarko and his band of marauders receive their just desserts for being slave-takers (even though that was hardly unusual from an economic standpoint in Dax's era), it really left much unexplained. It was never revealed how Dax ended up on that island (except to say that he spent a brief tenure as a slave, later escaping to Kriwo-Aes), nor did the tale explain how he eventually escaped from that atoll and the sirens who made him their king. It was interesting to see Dax in this particular role in this story, and it was even more unusual to see him surrounded by "inhumanly" beautiful women without taking a single one as a lover (though one might guess that the fact that all of these women weren't truly human but rather human-eating monsters was a good indication as to why this was the case). By the next story, Dax had escaped from this island, and for unknown reasons he apparently never took any of the vast treasure back with him (possibly he couldn't take any back).
Kriwo-Aes was the only locale from this time period named in Dax's series.
This story made good use of the sirens from Greco-Roman mythology and they were depicted as truly terrifying-looking in the one panel where Maroto depicted them in their true monstrous forms.
The cover of EERIE #44 had a beautiful painting of Ruby Lake (the "Lake of Gold"), courtesy of Luis Dominguez, though the monsters that appeared on there weren't in the story (unless they were intended to be the sirens, in which case it may be surmised that artist Dominguez received descriptions of the monsters without first seeing Maroto's drawings).
Time Frame: This story took place anywhere from a few months to a year after the previous story, giving Dax enough time to escape from the desert, possibly ending up as a slave due to his weakened state, and enough time to escape to Kriwo-Aes. It's unknown how long he remained trapped on the island, but apparently it wasn't longer than several months to a year.
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
As this story opened, an evil witch-woman ordered her monstrous slave, Dogo, to attack a group of humans approaching the vicinity of her dark palace to bring their corpses back for her to feed upon [exactly what she needed from these corpses is revealed later in the story]. Leading this group of humans on horseback was Dax [for once he wasn't depicted as traveling alone at the beginning of a story], who were searching this strange land for enough food to last them during the coming winter. Just then, a vision of a large demonic creature appeared before Dax and his entourage, the sight so spooking the golden-haired warrior's horse that it threw him from its back, causing him to hit his head and get knocked unconscious.
Dax awakened an indeterminate time later, to find all of his companions missing and the horses strewn about dead [but why wasn't Dax also taken? He was totally helpless and would have made an easy victim]. Evidently traveling for a period of time [I doubt it was for "days," as the text claimed], Dax came across the witch's castle, and he correctly surmised that the mystery of his missing men could be found there. Drawing his sword and entering the castle, he was greeted by many skeletons hanging from nooses in various places in the edifice [oooh, spooky!] and he finally came across a horrific sight…the witch and (presumably) Domo (who looked like a powerful but scraggly-looking human…evidently, he had the power, under the witch's direction, to cast illusions, as he did with the image of the demonic being) sat in the middle of a chamber with the severed body parts of Dax's warrior allies being cooked and eaten.
Reacting with extreme anger, Dax attacked and killed the witch's servant. Drawing his dagger to kill the witch, the old crone was determined that her plan wasn't halted and she unleashed her wicked mystical powers upon the warrior before her. Seizing Dax in a powerful spell, the warrior was morphed into a diminutive ape-like creature, apparently losing most of his human intellect in the process. The witch then told him that if he served her well she might one day return him to his human form. It was then that the sorceress told the unthinking creature that was once the warrior Dax her story.
Many years past, the old witch was a beautiful young maiden named Gremilda, but her beauty was lost with age. Unable to accept her aged status, she learned the black arts in an attempt to restore her youth [she obviously become an extremely adept expert at the mystic arts of her time period, and learned far more than simply a means of restoring her youth]. After a long period of time Gremilda learned that a fluid present in a human heart, coupled with a powerful spell, would restore her youth and beauty. This was the reason that the sorceress captured Dax's men. Upon leaving the once-warrior to plan the spell, the dwarfish ape-like creature that was once Dax sat still, somehow realizing that only the witch could return him to his original form.
Suddenly, a poisonous serpent entered the room (evidently it entered through one of the cracks in the wall of the castle) and began to stalk the small ape-like creature before it [this must be an extinct species, since this snake was much larger than any poisonous snake that exists in the present, and there is also no type of poisonous snake in the RU of the present that stalks and kills animals as large as an ape]. Still maintaining some of his warrior skills, the Dax-turned-simian fought with and managed to kill the snake. Then, driven by what remained of Dax's willpower, the small ape injected the serpent's poison into the heart of the nearest corpse.
Upon her return, Gremilda removed the hearts from the corpses (with the aid of her new simian slave) and she proceeded to consume them. Within moments, after her spell took effect, Gremilda indeed returned to her youth and beauty. Wanting to test her new body with the handsome warrior, she used her magick to restore Dax to his human form. However, she soon began feeling sick and she realized that she was dying. As she expired, Dax-now restored to human form-explained to her that the hearts were poisoned by the serpent's venom ("…you've got your wish to be beautiful, Gremilda…and you died for it!").
Comments: Though Dax wasn't alone at the beginning of this story, his allies were removed from the scene before we got to know any of them. Dax appeared destined to remain a loner, much like his fellow Warren hero Demian Hunter (see my index for "Hunter" elsewhere on this site).
Maroto was truly skilled at rendering the nude female form. Once Gremilda's youth was restored she was a beauteous sight to behold under the artist's pen.
Dax's metamorphosis into a dwarfish simian via Gremilda's mystical abilities was skillfully rendered on the cover of EERIE #45, again courtesy of Luis Dominguez.
WNU Connections: Gremilda was possibly one of the oldest gothic (a.k.a., evil non-Wiccan witches) to be seen in the WNU. She appeared long before the Dark Ages, of course, and she was possibly a precursor of many others of her type to come. It should be noted that sorceresses and sorcerers were no stranger even to Dax's era, predating even Hyborean Age sorcerers like Kulan Gath. It may be possible to trace such masters of the mystic arts nearly to the dawn of humanity. I encourage other creative mythographers to do more research on the history of sorcerers in the WNU, as I would like to see an article tracing their history to be composed eventually.
Time Frame: This story happened anywhere for a few months to a year after Dax escaped the atoll of Kriwo-Aes and returned to civilization.
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
A beautiful woman named Woona [again, practically nude and providing great eye candy courtesy of Maroto's mega-sexy rendition; didn't any women wear clothes in Dax's era?] was the captive of an 18 foot tall cyclopean giant. The creature intended to force the woman to become his mate after acquiring a spell from his master to increase her height. Woona was guarded by several large creatures that appeared to be half-human and half-lizard. After the Cyclops left, Woona fled the cave only to be pursued by the lizard creatures. Before the creatures could catch her, however, they were each killed by arrows being projected into their eyes-courtesy of Dax the Warrior. Dax told Woona that her tribe told him that she had been taken and he was determined to rescue her.
Dax had resolved to follow and slay the giant so that he could no longer capture any human women, and Woona insisted upon going with Dax. As they trekked through the mountains in search of the Cyclops, they were warned by Woona's tribe that monsters inhabited those mountains, and true to the legends the duo was attacked by two flying creatures, one resembling a harpy and another resembling a griffin (albeit with bat-like wings instead of feathered bird-like pinions). Though Dax knocked one of the creatures out of the sky with an arrow, the second beast managed to kill Woona by slashing her throat with its talons.
Carrying Woona's fallen body (to find a place to bury her), Dax was suddenly stopped by an old man garbed like a wizard, who stepped out of a cave and called the warrior in there. The old man informed the warrior that he was the master of monsters on Earth, but due to his advanced age he would be passing on soon…and he wanted Dax to replace him as master. When Dax refused, the angered old wizard was determined to slay him. Summoning the Cyclops to attack the warrior, the master of monsters stood and watched as the giant humanoid mercilessly beat Dax, hurling him against the walls of the cave repeatedly. When the wizard told Dax that if he didn't wish to rule the monsters then they would surely rule him, Dax drew his dagger and was determined to defeat the giant.
Using his remarkable agility to good effect, Dax sliced the tendons of the Cyclops' ankles, causing him to fall, whereupon the warrior jumped upon the monster and stabbed him to death, ultimately decapitating him. Startled by Dax's victory over his much larger and stronger opponent, the elderly master of monsters was told that Dax hates war [huh??] and that "no one interferes with my liberty." After Dax told the wizard that he would "fare no better" against other men than him, the old man cast a spell and quickly vanished from the area [this being a rare instance when one of Dax's opponents wasn't slain by him].
Comments: Once again, Dax loses a potential love interest. However, in this particular tale, the Warrior didn't suffer a truly tragic ending and he actually gave a positive display of how a strong determination to win, no matter how big one's opponent was, could enable a warrior to prevail over seemingly impossible odds. Also, the Cyclops was a fairly interesting foe for Dax and one that he had to use his speed and guile to defeat. This was one of the better stories in the serial.
WNU Connections: It's not certain where all of these monsters that inhabit Dax's era comes from, but similar creatures have been seen in other past eras on the Earth of the WNU, appearing all the way from Middle Earth to the Hyborean Age. So it was no surprise that Dax encountered so many of these creatures...some of them were possibly extradimensional in origin, whereas others were likely descended from the various creatures extant in the WNU during the time of Middle Earth.
Time Frame: This story took place anywhere from a few months to a year following the previous story (though a large number of years didn't pass during this series, as Dax remained young throughout).
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
As this story opens, Dax is located on what is said to be another planet known as Gemma-Five [see Comments below; how Dax got to this other planet is a mystery, but it's quite possible, and even likely, that Gemma-Five is actually an alien world in another dimension, perhaps a pocket universe]. Apparently on Gemma-Five to take advantage of the peace to be found in the lush jungle that exists here he was suddenly aroused from his rest by a scream. This surprised Dax, because he believed that there was no one else on the planet but him.
Upon investigating, Dax saw what appeared to be a Styracosaurus charging two humans (a man and a woman). The apparent dinosaur lifted the man with its horns (described here as "talons") and whipped him through the air. Determined not to let this creature kill the humans, Dax managed to thrust his sword into the ceratopsian's neck, killing it. Attempting to help the man to his feet, this man (who was named Rudolf-likely an assumed name) wasn't happy to receive help from the flaxen-haired warrior and he acted hostile to him at every opportunity. Upon seeing the woman, however, Dax was fascinated by her…she evidently didn't speak the same language that Dax and Rudolf spoke and her skin was unusual, resembling a glittering "star-lit jewel." Telling Dax that the woman was his slave and he could do what he wants with her, Rudolf carried her away and ordered Dax to leave the planet [evidently, Rudolf was aware that it could be otherdimensionally accessed from Earth].
As Rudolf left with his prize, Dax was determined to have that magnificent woman for himself, and to extricate her from Rudolf's possession.
Dax made plans to sneak into Rudolf's camp as they slept, to take the woman with the glittering skin, and to shove his sword into Rudolf. Freeing the woman from captivity to Rudolf (but without killing the man), Dax quickly flees the area with her. During the time they fled from Rudolf, Dax realized that he loved this woman [already?? He must have been truly enthralled with her]. Finding a place to sleep for the night, Dax took the woman in his arms and they made love.
The next morning, the gleaming woman points to a certain direction that she wanted to go, and Dax, believing that she was indigenous to Gemma-Five and thus knew where she was headed, agreed to follow her. As they passed by a serene lake, Dax realized that the glittering woman led him back to Rudolf and a group of his fellow warriors, who announced that they would be taking her back to his "underwater village" [the claim that this village was under the lake was possibly a story error]. Determined to keep this amazing woman for himself, Dax engaged the entire group of warriors in mortal combat, slaying them left and right with his superior strength and skill. He told the woman to flee while she could [then why did she lead Dax back to Rudolf and his men in the first place? A possible explanation for this was seen below].
As Dax continued to kill all the warriors, the glittering woman dove into the water. While underwater she encountered a metallic vessel that vaguely resembled a huge aquatic creature, the vessel's maw opening to let her in. Meanwhile, on the surface, Dax was beginning to get overwhelmed by the superior numbers of his foes, only to suddenly have them vaporized by a beam of crimson energy. At first confused as to what happened, Dax witnessed the underwater vessel rise from the surface of the lake and take off into outer space.
Inside the ship, it was revealed that the woman with the glittering skin had completed her mission to Gemma-Five…she belonged to a race of star-faring conquerors who sent her to the planet to test its native race to see if they were easy to invade and conquer [thus explaining why she led Dax to the lake]. But she had resolved to warn her people not to invade Gemma-Five, as she had learned to love and respect someone she met on that world [she apparently didn't know that Dax wasn't indigenous].
As the text explained: "…Dax again feels alone…never knowing [that] though he had lost a woman, but had gained the life of an entire planet…[sic]"
Comments: Another planet was an unusual setting for Dax, and an unusual setting for a sword and sorcery character in general. As I noted above, I am presuming that Gemma-Five was actually an otherdimensional planet that Dax was able to gain access to by passing through a portal on Earth. The presence of a dinosaur there seemed to suggest that life forms parallel to prehistoric life on Earth dwelled there, along with at least one tribe of humans. The woman with the glittering skin likely belonged to a race that was indigenous to the greater universe in which that otherdimensional planet existed. It was actually unnecessary to place Dax on another planet, since any number of unusual locales on Earth in his native era would have provided unique creatures and situations. Upon reading Maroto's serial, one gets the impression that, if it was indeed merely a translation of his Spanish strip "Manly," not all of the tales were reprinted in EERIE. You definitely get the feeling, while reading its run in EERIE, that you may have missed several episodes of the series. Whether this is true or not I am uncertain at this time, but I would really like to find out more about this series in the future.
At the beginning of this story, Dax is described in the text as being, "a man without a world to call his own…without the birthright of a heritage…"
Dax cannot truly be without a heritage, as his father was introduced in an earlier story, and Earth was definitely his own planet. Once again, I get the impression that this strip may have run longer in its native Spain than it did in America, with more entries that weren't accounted for here. Either that, or author Maroto changed the settings of this series on a whim, with no regards to continuity elsewhere in the serial.
It was very interesting to see Dax encounter something as unusual as a spaceship in his series rather than a mystical adversary this time around. To my knowledge, he is one of the few sword and sorcery characters to encounter such outré individuals as an alien.
Though Dax lost yet another woman in this series (a recurring theme for him), at least this time the woman wasn't killed and the ending wasn't entirely sad but filled with hope.
WNU Connections: Gemma-Five can be categorized as yet another dimension, perhaps a pocket universe, that is accessible from the Earth of the WNU. It's unknown how long Dax remained there, as he was only seen there this one time, and nowhere else during this strip's American run was Dax seen having access to another planet. As usual, much wasn't explained in this series, and author Maroto seemed to make the stories up as he went along.
Time Frame: This story took place anywhere from a few months to a year after the previous story. As noted above, it was never revealed (at least not in its American run) how Dax gained access to Gemma-Five or how long he stayed there, but he returned to Earth (apparently for good) shortly after this tale.
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
A tired Dax was on horseback walking through a marshy area. He quickly found his horse sinking in quicksand, and he saved himself from the same fate by grabbing on a branch of a tree. Suddenly, he heard a howling sound coming from the moon, and he drew his dagger, ready for anything. Immediately after this, he began seeing fearful images of monstrous faces and creatures on the moon, including a cloaked skeletal figure. Not knowing if he was being subjected to an illusion or not, Dax actually cut himself with his dagger so as to reassure himself that he wasn't going mad.
Then, Dax awakened and discovered that he was dreaming…but the scream he heard emanating from somewhere in the bog was real. He soon heard the howling again, and this time he was fully awake and the sound did not come from the moon but from a nearby cave in the shape of a huge skull with two enormous tusks [a wooly mammoth skull?]. Dax saw two human guards before the maw of the cave, and just inside were the skeletons of several people who made it to the cavern before Dax…along with a beautiful woman who was apparently dead.
Deciding that he wouldn't allow something like this to continue, Dax attacked and killed the two guards (one by hurling a dagger in his throat, another with a slash of his sword). He then encountered an old woman in a parka who welcomed Dax to the Temple of the Winged One. The old woman told Dax that he didn't need to slay the guards, as they would have allowed him to enter if he requested it, to which Dax replied: "I ask for nothing I cannot take, ancient one!"
Dax then asked the woman what the 'Winged One' was, and the elderly lady replied, "A thing that lives in the blackness, brave one. A dark thing kept from my people only by the living sacrifices offered him! When the moon is full, the Winged One spreads madness across the stars and emerges from the darkness to demand his tribute!" When Dax pointed out that he would not be an easy kill for the monster, the old woman then informed the warrior that she wasn't seeking another sacrifice to the creature by attracting him into the cavern but she was actually seeking one who can slay the beast. Dax then asked, "What do I gain by slaying your winged op[p]ressor? I am as noble as any man who rides the world today. But nobility fills not my purse as pleasant[l]y as does silver!" It was then that the old woman told him that her tribe is a poor people and all they have to give him in return for slaying the Winged One is their gratitude.
Before Dax could answer if that was payment enough, the full moon rose and the Winged One suddenly appeared and attacked the Warrior, thus taking the choice out of his hands. Engaging in a fierce battle with the flying monster, Dax managed to slay the creature. Just as Dax told the crone that she gained what she was seeking "at no cost to [herself]," she lamented that she paid a greater price than the warrior could possibly imagine. Then, hearing the sound of drums, Dax and the old crone witnessed a large procession of her tribe taking another woman as a sacrifice. Dax told her that they must hasten to tell the tribe that the creature is now dead, but the old woman told him that such a move would be "futile," as they cannot end all of those years of "fear and supplication" with a few words, and if Dax told them that the being they worshipped was now dead they would attack him and slay him. Just then, one of the priestesses called to the Winged One, as they slew the young woman that was intended as a sacrifice.
As the text explained, "but there comes no answer from the Winged One-no sound at all-
"…and soon only the echo of soft sobbing drifts down from the mount of the skull…"
Dax, however, simply walked away from the cave, his deed done, as he faded into the dawn.
Comments: This was quite a mediocre tale of Dax the Warrior, as it was rather formulaic and did nothing but fill a space in the book. Another old crone, another flying monster for Dax to slay, and more innocent blood spilled due to evil. In this case, however, we at least got a nice message about how far certain religious beliefs can be taken and how ingrained in the collective psyche they become after being believed for countless decades without challenge.
Time Frame: This story took place anywhere from a few months to a year after the previous story.
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
Once again traveling alone on horseback, Dax comes across another foreboding castle. Hungry and weary from his travels, he decided to see if there would be any relief found in this castle [you know what's coming not only from the title of the story, but also from the huge bat symbol above the front door of the castle *groan* I am going to assume that this was artistic license on Maroto's part]. Using a gong in front of the door to gain the attention of whoever was inside, the ancient door actually crumbled open and, stirred by his momentum, Dax fell forward into the castle. The floor likewise crumbled beneath his feet, and as he fell into a lower chamber of the castle he once again saw the skeletons of many dead bodies [he seems to find these in almost any castle or cavern that he enters].
Finally seeing a light in the distance, Dax followed it, only to find a mattress of "obscenely grimacing skulls" (and, of course, a bat symbol) and a beautiful woman laying on top of it. Finally awakening the pale young woman, she welcomed the blond warrior, telling him that it's been a long time since a man of his "strength and obvious power" has been in the castle. Wondering how this comely young woman came to be in such a portentous place, she told the warrior that her name was Walenka and she was there because she simply "belong[s]" there, as her family-particularly, her father-still resided there. As the two of them chatted with each other, Dax lamented that this tomb was no place for a man and a woman to meet, as there didn't seem to be any sun there.
Telling Dax that she regretted never being able to see the sun again [an image of a bat face was placed above her own in one panel, thus giving further hints as to her true nature (as if we needed any)], he retorted that her words were "absurd," as he offered to take her to see the sun. She refused, saying that it only "destroys." Walenka simply asked the warrior to hold her tightly, and just as she was about to give in to her bloodlust and take his blood, as luck would have it the hilt of his sword, visible on his back, vaguely resembled a cross and it caused Walenka to fall dead [Huh?? See Comments and WNU Connections below].
As Dax placed Walenka's lifeless body back on the slab where he first found her, he was suddenly joined by her very angry father. Determined to avenge his daughter's death, the vampiric patriarch morphed into a creature resembling a man-bat. Knocking the beast aside, Dax realized that there was "no food or pleasure" to be found in that castle, so he decided to leave with all due haste. Still swearing to avenge Walenka's "death," her father conveyed a telepathic call for the rest of his vampiric tribe to rise from their coffins in the castle. Morphing into various monstrous forms, the vampires attempted to slay Dax, only to fall before his sword and skill. As Walenka's (still unnamed) father came up behind the Warrior to exact revenge personally, Dax approached the front door and slammed his shoulder against it to open it, thereby causing the ancient wooden door to crumble to dust…letting torrents of sunlight into the castle in the process.
Much to Dax's surprise, he saw Walenka's father burn and disintegrate in the sunlight (at this point in time, the concept of vampires wasn't widely known, and the warrior believed he was battling wizards). Saying that it would take "more than one cup of ale to drive this nightmare from my eyes," Dax resolved to quickly leave the castle, hoping to find another place to satiate his hunger and tiredness, a place that didn't have this one's "stench of decay."
Comments: It was quite cool to see Dax pitted against vampires, especially vampires native to his distant time period. However, I don't understand how the sign of the cross, especially when these vampires exist long before that symbol was created, can effect these vamps. Also, Dax obviously didn't believe in the symbol behind the cross so it shouldn't have been able to affect Walenka. At the very least, she shouldn't have actually expired from the sight of this ersatz cross, but simply been repelled. Hence, I conjecture that Dax had a holy symbol indigenous to his time period on the hilt of his sword, and it was this symbol that Walenka saw. Apparently this symbol was of such a high spiritual significance to Dax that Walenka immediately had her undead existence ended by simply seeing it up close while also touching Dax at the same time (somehow, his touch while also touching this holy symbol that the hilt of his cross had inscribed on it or which it was shaped like transferred the holy energies of the symbol to Walenka's body, dispatching her undead form instantly). This may also explain how Dax's sword was able to slay the other vampires in the castle. See WNU Connections below.
WNU Connections: The vampires seen in this story was certainly one of the older strains of vampires in the WNU, long before Dracula and his more familiar strain came into existence in the late 15th century A.D. (see the Satanna story, "Genesis of Depravity," in EERIE #50, indexed in my "Dracula" Index elsewhere on this site). It would appear that some of these ancient vampires could transform into man-bat form, though not into that of regular-sized bats, and several of them could take on the form of monstrous creatures. It's been surmised by some of my fellow creative mythographers that there have been numerous strains of vampires during the history of the WNU, and many of the more ancient strains that had shape-shifting abilities took on different forms than bats and wolves. It may have been purely artistic license that Maroto depicted these particular vamps as being able to morph into man-bat form, though it's also possible that they were actually taking the form of flying creatures other than bats; their man-bat forms may have actually been demonic forms.
My fellow creative mythographer Crazy Ivan Schablotski gave me this anecdote regarding the above situations: "In the movie 'From Dust Till Dawn' it is made clear that being shot by a gun does not kill a vampire. However, when the barrel of the gun (in this case, a shotgun) was laid across a bar, it formed a cross, and this was sufficient to make the projectile volley lethal to the undead. By this reckoning, the presence of a religious icon, symbol, or gesture can be potent enough to 'bless' a weapon that would normally kill a human, making it just as deadly to the nosferatu. This supports the notion that a holy symbol on the hilt of the sword could be potent in the hands of a master swordsman like Dax."
Ivan adds: "Also of note is that the vampires in 'From Dusk Till Dawn' assume monstrous man-bat-gargoyle forms, naga-esque snake forms, and other bestial hybrids not normally associated with vampires. This suggests that they may be of the same specific breed of vampire as those Dax fought, as they share aggravated weaknesses to holy symbology as well as a tendency towards bizarre monstrous transformations.
"I'll also point out that 'From Dusk Till Dawn' revealed that the vampires dwell in an Aztec pyramid, so their own traditions do not include Christianity and they likely descend from a different breed than those native to the Carpathians."
Creative mythographer Jay Lindsey had this to say about vampires and crosses: "Curt Barlow from SALEM'S LOT claimed to be older than Christianity, but was still hurt by crosses and holy water, although once Father Callahan's faith 'failed,' the cross lost its power and Barlow was able to take it in his hand and crush it with no ill effects. The question of just how the cross affects different 'faiths' of the undead is an interesting one. In the movie 'The Fearless Vampire Killers,' a Jewish vampire laughs at a cross and says, 'Oy, lady, have you got the wrong vampire!' and goes about his blood-sucking ways; on the other hand, vampire Willow from the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' episodes 'Dopplegangland' and 'The Wish' was still affected by a crucifx, even though Willow was Jewish in life."
Time Frame: The above story took place any time between a few months to a year after the previous story, thereby giving Dax enough time to end up in yet another out of the way locale.
"The Secret of Pursiahz"
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
This story began with Dax talking to an elderly man in a castle that he met on one of his journeys. The man (who was never named) gave Dax some food, and in return the warrior agreed to do him a favor. Asking Dax to follow him into a lower chamber of the castle, the old man introduced the barbarian to a strange sight…a golden man with feathered bird-like wings lay on the floor, "his eyes glazed in a vacant stare." The old man told Dax that the golden being had been laying there for sometime without food and water and that if he died the old man might never learn his secret.
Not knowing if this strange being was a man or a god, Dax wondered how he might help him. The golden man began talking to Dax as soon as he laid eyes upon him, telling him his story.
The winged man told Dax that he possesses "the quality which [he] most valued"-that of a desire for adventure. The golden man said that he came from a world [obviously an otherdimensional realm] between mortals and gods, and that he was in love with a female member of his race named Erica [obviously an assumed name; the females of his race had wings like a butterfly and more resembled popular images of faeries rather than angels]. Evidently these flying beings never touched the ground and one time, knowing of his desire for adventure, Erica convinced the golden man (whose name was later revealed to be Pursiahz) to fly to the ground with her, against the warnings of the gods about doing so.
Upon traveling too close to the ground, Erica was caught on a huge spider web and trapped. "I could not let her think me a coward," he said, "so I unwittingly led her to her doom. And when the monster nearby had stirred, I grew fearful for my life and fled!" Pursiahz did not wish to leave Erica alone there, but he has since found himself in the old man's castle desiring his own death due to his shame for leaving his lover behind, and she remains trapped on the web. It was clear that Pursiahz wanted Dax to risk his life to save Erica from the monster that created the web, and though the old man told him that he did not deserve the love he had lost, Pursiahz told him not to judge because he was not himself a warrior. Dax sympathized with the golden man's story (saying that warriors are "made, not born") and agreed to help him. The old man told Dax that the location of the web was near the forest's nightwood bower, but no man had ever returned from there before [are you betting that Dax would be the first one to do so?].
Dax rode his horse into the woods towards the area described to him and he noticed the giant spider web. He saw Erica entrapped on the web and climbed up a vine on a tree to the top of the web and freed her by slicing through the web with his sword. Though he felt for a heartbeat he noticed that Erica had unfortunately expired. Noticing puncture marks on her neck, he realized that she had been dead for a long time…and he was nearly caught unawares by the giant spider-like creature that created the web [see WNU Connections below]. Dax quickly drew his sword and battled the creature, managing to slay it.
After washing his sullied hands in a stream, he was confronted by another winged woman, and he told her that he regretted how he was unable to save Erica. Several more winged women then landed, and the first one told Dax that her name was Llewarna; the rest of the winged women, including Erica, were her sisters. Llewarna said that though she and her sisters did not blame Pursiahz for what he did, since he and Erica reached the ground the entire race found themselves forsaken by the gods (they attempted to hide Erica's body from the gods, but this turned out to be futile). As Llewarna said, "Now we must hunt for food and shelter, for soon our wings will wither and die." She wanted Dax to give this message to Pursiahz, telling him that the rest of his wives awaited his return since he is the last hope for their race. It was then that Dax realized that the golden man was the only male member of the race and the only one capable of carrying on his species with the females. Dax resolved to tell Pursiahz as he was requested, but was unsure whether or not the golden man would listen to him due to the being's wanderlust.
Upon returning to the castle, Dax told the old man to relay the message to Pursiahz and try to convince him to return to his people. Dax then departed to seek out new "adventures in faraway lands that await me."
The old man did indeed tell Pursiahz, and the latter decided to return "heroically" to his people, though the old man bid him to do this quickly while his wings were still intact and strong. However, Pursiahz's wanderlust was not to be sated even by this news, as he was determined to do one last great thing before returning to his people while his wings lasted him…to reach the sun (he believed that since none of his race had ever dared venture there before, he needed to do so to prove to himself that he wasn't a coward). Flying higher in the sky towards the yellow orb despite the old man's warnings, Pursiahz's wings faltered and the golden man fell dead into the water below him. Thus, because of his great need to prove himself, an entire race was doomed. The old man carried this bleak tale to others whom he met, which (as the text explained) was eventually passed on to become the legend of Perseus [huh?? See Comments below].
Comments: This was a rather interesting tale, as it explained the ancient story behind a real life legend. However, it was not the legend of the Greek hero Perseus (who slew Medusa)…it was the legend of Icarus. I'm not sure how the author made this error, and I also do not know why the editors of this story didn't correct this before the story was published. This story also featured an unusual otherdimensional race that existed "between" the realm of Earth and the realm inhabited by the gods. Once again, the gods were mentioned and the consequences of their actions made clear, but they remained unseen, thus giving readers the impression that they were quite distant from the race of mortals.
WNU Connections: Regarding the possible origins of the giant spider-like creature seen in this story…creative mythographer Gordon Long has told me a theory that may account for this creature. He has theorized that many giant spider-like creatures seen following the era of Tolkein's Middle Earth in the WNU may be diminished descendants of the giant sentient spider-like being known as Ungoliant. As Gordon told me: "The spiders of Mirkwood Forest in THE HOBBIT are supposed to be descended from Shelob of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, who herself is descended from Ungoliant. They are intelligent and can converse in the common tongue of Man, but the Mirkwood troupe is clearly less intelligent than Shelob. Through the generations, the god-like powers and abilities (shape shifting, teleporting, etc.) went first, then the power of speech, then their intelligence. That brings us down to giant spiders of animal intelligence. There is a Conan story, 'The Tower of the Elephant,' where he encountered one of these giant spiders in the tower of the title. Later, in the 1940 film 'Thief of Bagdad,' Sabu's character Abu encounters a giant spider in historical times. Since WWII, there have been dozens of movies with giant spiders, from 'Tarantula' and 'Earth vs. the Spider', to 'The Giant Spider Invasion' and 'Eight Legged Freaks.' These are mutated descendants of Ungoliant and Shelob…"
Gordon's theory may indeed account for many of the giant spider-like creatures seen in various other WNU sources.
Time Frame: This story took place anywhere from a few months to a year following the previous story.
"Death Rides This Night"
Story and Art: Esteban Maroto
This final entry in the series begins with Dax laying on the ground among a bunch of human corpses following a particularly vicious war, and the warrior felt his life ebbing away. However, Dax's will to live was strong.
Death Himself sent a female agent down to the Earth to gather the souls of those who had just expired in the battle. Under Death's watchful eyes, his minion went down and took the various souls of the fallen soldiers and finally came to take Dax's consciousness. However, Dax's spirit refused to leave, as life remained in his physical body. At first mistaking this agent of Death as a normal woman and asked if she would doctor his wounds for him, she quickly told the warrior that she came to claim his soul. "But I live, I breathe," Dax told her. "I am not yet fodder for your dark master. Surely you can see that what I say is true."
The female agent of Death then informed Dax that her dark master had marked him to be gathered along with the other souls, and that she would welcome someone as handsome as him in the realm of the dead [you know where this is going, right? Dax was a ladies' man right to the end]. Dax realized that since this agent of Death was attracted to him, there was a way for him to avoid being taken. Dax told her that he couldn't see one as lovely as herself being consigned the task of taking his life and he wondered if she had ever been alive at all, otherwise she would know the value of life. She said that she was indeed once alive and she described how her body was once "warm and soft and my kisses brought pleasure rather than damnation." Dax then tried to convince her to forsake her dark master and join him in the realm of the living again as his lover. She pleaded with Dax to stop trying to convince her to stay, as this caused her pain because she wanted to stay so badly but knew that she could not.
Finally, Dax's words won out over her reservations and this female agent of Death decided to stay with him in the land of the living as his love interest. She told him that she was very afraid to defy Death, but he told her not to worry, assuring her that nothing would harm her as long as she stayed with him. The two began making love when all of a sudden the woman began morphing into a horrid creature that resembled a human-sized snail with many tentacles. The creature then began sprouting moth-like wings and started to ascend into the sky, in obvious torment, and then burst into a sudden flurry of incandescence. Then, emerging out of that light was Death Himself, who informed Dax that his agent was punished for attempting to defy him and that she will now spend all of eternity as that slug-like beast.
Death told Dax that throughout the years the warrior has escaped His dark embrace many times and that this time he was finally going to claim his soul. Dax was ever defiant, replying that he did not fear Death as he was still alive and that he would not give up his hold on life. Death then retorted, "it is only a matter of time, and in time you, like all mortals, must yield to me! For I am eternal! Yield to me now, Dax[,] know the peace that only death may bring." Death then gave Dax a short time to decide whether to yield to the inevitable at this time or to return to the land of the living. Dax began thinking, and he came to a realization as his hand brushed against the hilt of his sword.
Dax realized that he lived a life of strife as a warrior, often facing death as well as being "the author of it." He considered that death may indeed bring him respite and peace. "Perhaps death is the answer I seek," he said to himself. "Ho then, Death, is that what you would have me believe? Would you see me cease striving and welcome the peace of the grave? It is almost a tempting prospect, but it is not the way of Dax. Dax does not surrender himself to any foe without bitter struggle." Dax then began shedding tears, as he wondered if he would ever know peace of mind upon returning to life and he began to envy the men who had just fallen on the battlefield. But he finally came to the conclusion that despite their peace they may never again know the pleasures of life [how can Dax be so sure? It may be possible for the dead to experience everything they experienced in life, maybe more].
Finally Dax gripped his sword and decided that he does not envy the dead and he wished to continue to experience the pleasures of life. With that decision made, Dax told Death that he did not believe he had the power to keep him there (or he would not have allowed him the decision in the first place) and that he would be returning to life. Death then said, "You cling to life so stubbornly, so tenaciously, I have it not within me to wean you from it. Return to the living then, warrior? Return to the living and be damned."
Dax then felt his spirit returning to his physical body and the glowing nimbus surrounding the body of Death dispersed "into a strange pattern intermixing black and white as if to echo the pattern woven by life and death."
However, as Dax returned to his physical body he suddenly realized that his spine had apparently been damaged by the last sword strike he suffered and he was unable to move. Even the pain began fading. He was living and breathing but he could not move, not even scream for help. Then he remembered Death's last words to him: "Return to the living and be damned."
Comments: The American series of Dax (and, presumably, Dax's counterpart in the 'mainstream' WNU) ended with this story. It was a long, distinguished run for a series in EERIE. As noted in the Introduction, it was a grim and depressing ending, and it was quite clear why Death told Dax that he would be "damned" if he returned to life. It certainly would have been nice of Death to inform Dax of the fact that he would be paralyzed if he returned to life. And it would seem that Dax would only prolong his suffering for a few days by returning to life, because if no one found him he would surely be dead of starvation and thirst, if not also exposure (depending on the temperature of whatever land he found himself in). The story also seemed to carry a message that death is inevitable and that all should embrace it when their time comes, though Dax remained noble in his determination to resist death and to retain his zest for life despite the strife he routinely suffered by living the life of a warrior.
Of course, this story made people wonder about a few things. How noble is it, exactly, to resist death at all costs? When someone is severely injured or suffering from a painful illness like cancer, struggling to live is considered noble by our culture and is encouraged, but by doing so are you merely damning yourself to more suffering? Is it sometimes wise and even practical to embrace death under certain circumstances? Is there a penalty for always trying your hardest to resist the inevitability of death? And does its inevitability mean that it's pointless to resist it? Or should we consider life so enjoyable that we would rather continue to experience it for as long as possible despite the greater pleasures that may await us after death? Is the realm we experience after death really so dark and ominous that it can't possibly add up to what we experience in life? But since we don't really know what we will experience after death despite our various belief systems of an idyllic afterlife it shouldn't be surprising that so many of us try so hard to cling to the only world we know. This final tale of Dax the Warrior was probably Maroto at his best as both a writer and an artist even though art was more his forte'. Reading this story forces us to ask many uncomfortable questions regarding life vs. death and makes us ponder whether or not death should always be resisted.
The appearance of Death itself in the final entry of "Dax the Warrior" really brought the serial to a dramatic ending, despite the fact that the series can be said to have ended with a whimper rather than a bang.
Dax appeared two more times in the Warren chronicles following the end of his series, both thanks to time travel (thus, these two instances featured Dax during a time before he met his end in the above story). He met the time-traveling Bishop Dane in EERIE #120 (the story is indexed below) and he was shanghaied into the late 20th century to battle (and then team up with) Vampirella and her allies as one of the 'Time Force' in EERIE #130 (indexed elsewhere on this site). In neither of these instances was Dax written by Esteban Maroto, and Warren seemed to have American ownership rights of the character after this despite the fact that Maroto originated it. It is unknown who currently owns the rights to Dax the Warrior, but possibly the copyright is owned by New Comic Company, who has apparently taken ownership of all the old Warren characters except for Vampirella and her supporting cast (the latter of which passed into ownership from Harris Comics to Dynamite Entertainment in 2010).
Dax did receive a collected edition of EERIE where the majority of the stories were reprinted (in EERIE #59, indexed below) but in this instance all the stories had the words re-written by Budd Lewis to effectively make them entirely new stories.
WNU Connections: The personification of Death itself has appeared in various WNU sources, and the Grim Reaper has sometimes taken an active role in influencing the denizens of the living, as when He (though Death can just as easily take female form as the situation requires) directly allied Himself with the powerful soul-clone Dracula-Mathias in the 'Castlevania' series of video games, which creative mythographer Mike Ongsinco has connected to the greater WNU.
Time Frame: It may have been anytime between a few months to a year following the previous story that this tale took place, and going with the time frame that Win Scott Eckert has established for Dax in The Rook Chronology it would appear that this story took place slightly later than 24,000 BC.
Comments: This issue of EERIE was the 1974 Annual and as such was a collected edition for Dax, with the series renamed "Dax the Damned," possibly because of the tragic fate awaiting the hero at the end of his life. However, those who are doing research on Dax the Warrior should take heed: the ten stories featured in this issue were completely re-written by Budd Lewis, effectively making them entirely new stories. For this Index, I have taken the original stories as written by Esteban Maroto to be canon (Warren also did a revamp on "The Mummy Walks" for EERIE #78) and have consigned the re-written stories by Lewis to be part of an alternate universe [AU]. The stories also had some of their titles changed from their original versions. It would be interesting to know why Warren tampered with the stories during the reprint instead of simply using Maroto's scripts.
The Dax the Damned stories featured in this issue of EERIE were as follows:
"Dax the Damned"
"The Paradise Tree"
"Let the Evil One Sleep"
"The Golden Lake"
"The Witch…The Man Eater"
"The Lord's Prayer"
"Death Rides…This Night"
The version of "Chess" seen in this collected edition (with words by Lewis rather than Maroto) was colorized, the only time a Dax story was seen in color. That story was later reprinted in COMIX INTERNATIONAL #3 and WARREN PRESENTS #5, the latter of which was an all sword and sorcery reprint issue entitled RING OF THE WARLORDS.
WNU Connections: As noted above, I consider the re-written Dax the Damned stories in this issue to be part of an AU and not the 'mainstream' "consensus" WNU; I consider the original stories as written by Esteban Maroto to be canon in the mainstream WNU.
"The Warrior and the Gunfighter"
Story: Rich Margopoulos
Art: A.L. Sanchez
At high noon at Rook Manor in Arizona circa late 1980 or early 1981 (see Time Frame below), the aged anachronaut gunfighter Bishop Dane, great-grandfather and ally of the time-traveling hero known as the Rook, awakened with an extremely painful toothache. He drank a bottle full of moonshine the night before to ease his pain, and this ended up causing him to oversleep and miss his dentist appointment. Though Bishop called the dentist the receptionist told him that he only has time for one more patient today, and this patient was sitting in front of her waiting for the dentist (though she didn't understand why this mystery patient needed the appointment as he never had any dental ailments). It turned out that this patient was Quarb, the immortal progenitor of the human race (a character who first appeared in the Rook strip), and it was obvious that Quarb was up to something.
As it turned out, Bishop couldn't stand the pain, so he decided to go to the Rook's workshop-laboratory to use his Time Castle device to go back in time several hours so that he could make his dentist's appointment. But upon entering the machine and setting the coordinates, something went wrong and the machine went back in time to the year 24,000 BC [see Time Frame below]. Upon leaving the Time Castle, he found himself in what looked like an ancient kingdom, and he was suddenly knocked down from behind courtesy of a double kick by the ancient warrior Dax, who believed that Bishop Dane (presumably due to his odd 19th century garb) was a spy of his enemy Danak. Dax raised his sword to slay Bishop, but the veteran gunfighter quickly drew his piece and shot the sword out of the warrior's hand.
Dax then realized that Bishop wasn't a spy but was actually "a wizard without peer," as he was unfamiliar with firearms and thought Bishop disarmed him via sorcery of some sort [how was Bishop able to understand Dax's language? In 24,000 BC, English or even its linguistic predecessor, Latin, was many thousands of years away from being invented. I am going to presume that due to the many advanced devices the Rook had in his possession that this included a universal translator that enabled those traveling through time in his Time Castle to speak the language of anyone whom they encountered; this may seem a bit contrived, but it's the only explanation I can think of as the author of this story didn't explain this discrepancy]. Still angry at being hit from behind by Dax, Bishop punched the young warrior in the face, and Dax drew his dagger, determined to slay this man for hitting him. However, Dax's hand was stopped by a messenger from the warrior's ally King Sobol, who witnessed what happened from his window on the castle's tower [as luck would have it!] and wanted this stranger escorted to his throne room.
After meeting King Sobol, the ruler told Bishop that he was impressed with the way he disarmed his mightiest warrior, Dax. He believed that Bishop's 'magick' would serve him well against the tyrant Danak that they were now fighting, but Bishop told him that he wasn't truly a magician. Bishop then again demonstrated with his firearms to show the king what he did have to offer him as an ally, shooting a chandelier off the ceiling, and Sobol was again impressed, believing that "thunder is his to command" (at this point, Sobol also mentioned one of his gods, Varkas). In a Classic Dialogue moment, Bishop simply replied, "Thunder m'wrinkled hide! It's good ol' fashioned American gun powder!" But no one in this time period had ever experienced anything like firearms, and Sobol's daughter mentioned that with Bishop on their side they would be unbeatable. Sobol offered to reward Bishop handsomely for assisting them, but the decision was out of his hands when Danak's army suddenly attacked the royal palace. Danak's army was a legion of skeletal warriors riding large bat-like creatures called deathwings and Sobol's messenger said, "Perhaps the stranger possesses the means to push the Satanic invaders back from whence they came!" [Of course, they wouldn't have an adjective like "Satanic" back then, but presumably this is how the word translated into Bishop's presumed universal translator.] Running up to one of the towers, Dax and Bishop fought off the deathwings, and realizing that they needed bigger firepower, Bishop told Dax and Sobol's soldiers to follow him back to the Time Castle.
Recovering some fully automatic bushmaster firearms that were stored in there for occasions such as this, Bishop quickly showed the soldiers how to use those weapons (you aim and pull the trigger, obviously), and as a result of this all of Danak's deathwing mounted skeletal soldiers (presumably reanimated through magick) were destroyed. However, Dax pointed out that this was simply Danak's first wave, and that there would be more to come. Just as Dax predicted, within moments Danak's 'Black Fleet of the Walking Dead' came ashore. Disembarking from these ships was a battalion of Danak's "nar-warriors," which appeared to be half-rotted walking zombies armed with swords and other ancient weapons. Bringing a battering ram with them, the nar-warriors smashed down the front door to Sobol's palace, but Bishop threw an explosive device at them (also recovered from the Time Castle's stored arsenal) and destroyed the battering ram. Then, with Dax's sword and Bishop's Navy Colt, they once again began battling and defeating these undead soldiers (evidently, these particular zombies fell when hit with gunfire; it's possible that they were still alive, and were living humans who were mystically transformed into these rotted creatures without killing them first).
Meanwhile, on an island in the "Blue Atlantic," Danak received news that the battle was going poorly for his troops. Using his magicks to consult the Well of Knowledge, Danak learned of Bishop Dane. Somehow summoning a mystic orb to surround Bishop and take him back to his island, Sobol's men felt that the gunslinger was lost to them, but Dax had a plan. Using one of the captured deathwing mounts, Dax flew off to Danak's island. Gaining entrance to Danak's castle via an underwater drainage system, Dax found Bishop chained in the dungeon. Snapping the chains with his bare hands, Dax told Bishop that they would now bring down Danak in his own castle, ending his threat once and for all. Bishop thought it was a bad idea to oppose Danak on his home territory, but Dax thought he could not lose with the gunslinger's 'magick' at his side.
Finding their way into the bowels of the castle, Dax and Bishop discovered what appeared to be Danak's power source…several giant turbines (artist Sanchez drew them as if they were technological in nature) that seemed to be powered by three huge mystical jewels, much like the smaller one on Danak's forehead (it would be interesting to learn how Danak acquired these seemingly anachronistic devices; see WNU Connections below). Bishop destroyed the turbines with his Navy Colt, thus depriving Danak of his power source. But by destroying these machines it started a power surge which threatened to destroy the entire island. Seeing Danak attempting to escape on a huge winged mount [again, as luck would have it], Dax and Bishop quickly jumped from the castle tower onto the mount, and Dax kicked the powerful wizard off the huge flying creature, causing him to fall to his apparent death. As the two heroes escaped from the island, Dax mentioned that the sinking atoll was called Atlantis [this was almost certainly apocryphal, as Atlantis proper was probably far larger and it's doubtful that even such a big power surge could sink a whole continent, though it may have been a small island off the coast of the actual Atlantis or a portion of the continent; again, see Comments and WNU Connections below].
Back at Sobol's castle, Bishop explained his 'magick': "…the bullets in m'shootin' irons don't have nothin' t'do with magick! It's min'rals from the Earth that makes 'em work! If'n y'ask me, science's much stronger'n magic any day!" Dax said he would remember his words [though it would still be a long time before science would fully replace magick on Earth]. In gratitude for their defeat of Danak, King Sobol gave Dax a treasure chest (though Dax said that this was "treasure enough to sink a second kingdom," he didn't seem to show any signs of having wealth in any of the stories making up his serial; it can be presumed that he either lost this treasure, or, more likely, spent it all very quickly on hedonistic things). To Bishop, the king offered his daughter's hand in marriage. Of course, Bishop didn't take him up on it, as he had to return to his own time period.
Suddenly Bishop's tooth began hurting him again and he realized that in all the ruckus he went through he forgot about his toothache. Dax then resolved his problem by punching him in the jaw and knocking his bad tooth out ("Did I not learn my lesson well? I used science to quell the ache!"). One of the men in Sobol's throne room started laughing intensely, and just as Bishop turned around and started complaining to him about that, the man removed his disguise to reveal himself as Quarb. It was then that Bishop realized that Quarb was responsible for the malfunction in the Time Castle that brought him back to this time period. This turned out to be part of Quarb's plan to see to it that science was now guaranteed to supplant magick on Earth [though it's hard to figure out how this one instance of science could cause every primitive civilization on Earth to suddenly stop using magick...it's possible that Quarb had other reasons for bringing Bishop back here, as it's unlikely that he would risk contaminating the timestream by trying to introduce science into this time period by bringing someone back from the future; wasn't there at least a thousand other ways he could have introduced science into this time period? I guess being an immortal, he was already aware of how science was introduced into the past].
Bishop promptly returned to his own time period, where Restin Dane (the Rook) told his great-grandsire that he was worried about him. Bishop told him: "You ain't gonna believe this, boy…but I trucked on back t'Atlantis…t'get m' ailin' tooth pulled! I found me a purty good dentist, too! Remind me t' recommend him to ya, th' next time y' need yer chompers rearranged!"
Comments: This was an entertaining tale well worth reading for fans of both Dax and the Rook's supporting cast, as the interactions between Bishop Dane and Dax the Warrior were quite amusing. The tale was relatively well written other than a few discrepancies as mentioned above in the synopsis. It's highly unlikely, for instance, that the continent of Atlantis was actually sunk as a result of this story (numerous different reasons for Atlantis sinking in the past have been given, and it's doubtful that this one was any more reliable than any of the others). It would also be nice to know if the Rook actually had a universal translator among his various gimmicks as it was never explained how Bishop got past the language barrier in this story.
WNU Connections: It's possible that Danak's island of Atlantis was one of the small islands that was off the shore of the main continent, and the jewels he used for powering his devices may have come from Atlantean technology, which was known to be advanced in its time. Several sources and real life legends have claimed that the denizens of Atlantis used various types of crystals as storage batteries and generators of power, and it's quite possible that this is where Danak acquired his jewels. We saw nothing of Danak's origin in this story, so it's possible he was a wizard/scientist from the main island of Atlantis, and that the jewel on his forward somehow enabled him to control the walking dead and enhanced his psychic powers, which enabled his clairvoyant ability to utilize the Well of Knowledge to locate Bishop. It's also possible that many adepts on the Atlantean continent combined science with the magick so prevalent in the various primitive societies to be found across the globe in Dax's time. Since science was lost to the world after Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu sunk beneath the waves during the Great Cataclysm, this may explain why Quarb wanted to introduce science from the future elsewhere in the past. However, I do not believe that Quarb's motives were completely revealed in this story, nor were they as simple as was described in this tale.
This particular story officially brings Dax and his era's world into the WNU.
Time Frame: According to The Rook Chronology by Win Scott Eckert, this story took place in the year 24,000 BC, at some point before Dax met his final fate as enumerated in the last story of his series (indexed above). The framing sequence featuring Bishop Dane took place sometime late in the year 1980 or early in the year 1981.