Thursday, March 22, 2018


♬ Schoo-oo-ool's out for lions ♬

The Wooden Sword
(w/a: George Wilhelms)

At first glance, this is the strip which I had most expected to closely resemble the British boys' adventure weeklies for which I hold such inexplicable fondness (I ern't ever even been to Britland, or any of its nearby boroughs -- Irevale, The Republic of South Irevale, Big Scot Valley, and Waletown!). After a couple of readings, it actually feels very American -- if I had to identify its kinfolk, I'd suggest it feels a lot like the kind of adventure story you'd see in Treasure Chest or any other comic produced by something like The Catholic League. More or less.

It's good, though! One aspect of having written for this blog for two decades (more or less) is that it's broadened my horizons. Endless repetition of the superhero formula, as entertaining as it can be, ultimately gave me a hunger for other genres. Gladiator movies aren't precisely my forte, but here we are, watching men sweat.

You heard him, get ready for that fork!
Rome under the Emperor Tiberius, and the gladiatorial arenas are just ... they're just great. Everyone loves them and they make for a great excuse for getting out of the house on a Thursday evening. You know, drag that weekend out one more day.

The current champion is Artos, whose suburban good looks make him perfect for a career as a milkman or a neighborhood dad who murders people on the weekends. You know the type -- OR DO YOU? His current opponent is Graccus, a total dick who has left a trail of bloody conflicts behind him (surely that's true of all gladiatorial combat, but I'm new here), but Graccus has a secret -- someone's cheatin'!

Artos' boy Lance (LANCE?) overhears a servant of General Quintos instruct a blacksmith to sabotage Artos' sword. Weakening the blade will insure Graccus' victory and Quintos' windfall at the betting counter, because I assume that gladiator fights work just like an OTB. Lance tries to interfere with the activity, but instead just gets thrown in front of some lions and saved by Scylax, Artos' hunky servant. This could get erotic. Buckle in.

When Artos' weapon fails, Lance rushes the field to save his father and becomes a hostage of Graccus. The crowd hates this, because they are apparently opposed to anyone murdering children in the arena. There's a kid's arena down the street for that! Let's get back to just murdering animals and full grown men and political prisoners and their families some of whom were definitely children.

In the end, Artos' bravery and kindness win the day and earn him his freedom. I've never understood this particular story twist, where the gladiator refuses to take his opponent's life and the crowd respects him for it. It's like ... why did we even hire this guy in the first place? We're here to see guys get murdered. It's like getting signed to a professional football team and refusing to tackle anyone. "He played with great courage and honor. Run, Ted Ginn Jr, my hand will not stay your progress today."

If this was me, I woulda gotten confused and accidentally killed the boy, probably. 


J Muir said...

I love your writing so much.

Jonathan Morris said...

Aw, thanks! I appreciate that!

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