Warrior #17: "The Red King Syndrome" (Part 2)

Warrior #17
"The Red King Syndrome" (Part 2)
March, 1984

Script: Alan Moore
Pencils: John Ridgway
Inks: John Ridgway
Colors: Ron Courtney
Letters: G. George
Editing: Dez Skinn

He is Doctor Emil Gargunza, who had spent his childhood in the back streets of Rio De Janero, and who had only wanted one thing. He had worked for the Germans in 1942 and now worked for the Spookshow, the clandestine branch of Airforce Intelligence in Britain in 1961. Doctor Gargunza wants only one thing... to live forever. He had hoped Project Zarathrustra would help him to achieve that goal. How does one live forever? By becoming superhuman. How does one become superhuman? By studying other superhumans. Where does one get these superhumans from? One creates them, and because they are powerful and terrifying beings, you lock them away in a a dreamlike state, studying their minds while their bodies lay in slumber. Then, one evening in November of 1961, something goes terribly wrong, and they begin to wake up. He is Dr. Emil Gargunza and he no longer cares about living forever. Dr. Gargunza only cares about getting through the next hour alive.

Fabian informs the doctor that the damper fields have overloaded and the subjects' powers are no longer being siphoned. In their dream-world, the subjects have defeated the vampires that their subconscious minds had created. What next? With the vampires kayoed, Young Marvelman wants to know what's next, and Marvelman feels that there's something wrong here, as if none of this were really happening. Mick Moran's subconscious is aware of the situation and is trying to break through the dreamscape. After battling vampires, giants, and large funhouses, he has begun to reject the whole thing as utter fantasy. What Dr. Gargunza needs is a dream-program that will explain these inconsistencies in the continuity and lull him back into slumber. He orders Dr. Fabian to run an over-ride programme which he will personally dictate. As the Marvelman Family walk down the corridor, they suddenly hear a noise coming from behind them. Behind them stands Adversary Module 390/3, also known as Hypnos, the Deacon of Delirum!

Young Marvelman realizes that the sudden appearance of the Nabob of Nightmares explains Marvelman's strange unease. Hypnos agrees with Dickey Dauntless and calls forth his Sirens of Slumber to trap them in their irresistible caresses! Dr. Fabian informs Dr. Gargunza the electro-encephalogram shows the subjects are slowly reverting to the wave-formations of their control system. Kid Marvelman knows they can't hit girls!! Young Marvelman isn't in a hurry to escape from their formidable caresses. Only Marvelman realizes THIS IS WRONG! He realizes they are being seduced and they are being deceived into submission!

Marvelman realized this when Hypnos addressed Young Marvelman by his secret identity of Dickey Dauntless, something he should not be aware of. The castle and his powers are nothing like their previous encounter, and none of this is real! Dr. Gargunza shoves Dr. Fabian out of the way and grabs hold of the console. Hypnos claims to have learned Young Marvelman's identity with a secret mind-scanning device, and as for his newfound abilities, they... were a gift from the Mayor of the Fifth Dimension for saving the life of his daughter... Marvelman is not buying it! The chamber, his costume, and everything is changing! Doctor Fabian can only gape as subject Moran's subconscious wills his chest emblem to change.

Marvelman is tired of the lies and wants to see the face behind the mask of Hypnos! "GARGUNZA!" Mike Moran's subconscious mind knows this. Dr. Gargunza searches for a end-sequence programme that will resolve this insoluble mess that Moran's mind has woven! Dr. Fabian informs Dr. Gargunza that Subject Moran has started to move... As the Marvelman Family watch Hypnos' Sirens melt into the checkerboard floor, Marvelman demands answers from Gargunza or he will kill him!

Beads of sweat appear on Dr. Gargunza's brow, his fingers twitch nervously on the keyboard, and he intones on the microphone, "And then the Marvelman Family woke up... and it had all been a dream." They find themselves resting on a grassy hill beneath a shady tree. Young Marvelman starts to talk about the crazy dream he just had, only to Marvelman, it seemed more like an insane nightmare... Dr. Fabian informs Dr. Gargunza that normal dream patterns have been completely re-established, and all loose ends have been tied up. When it comes to story endings, Dr. Gargunza is a genius... perhaps even an immortal genius. As Gargunza pours some tea, Young Marvelman asks Marvelman on the monitor... what's with the new costume? Tea time is over and a genius' work is never done.

This story was reprinted in Miracleman #5 (January, 1986).

The cover date of Fantastic Four #1 was November, 1961.

Dr. Gargunza is based on Dr. Sivana.

"Sh-Boom" or "Life Could Be A Dream" is an early doo-wop song written by James Keyes, Claude, Feaster, Floyd F. McRae, and James Edwards, members of the R&B vocal group, The Chords.

Not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary tale was a frequent DC Comics cover blurb during the Silver Age.

Nightmare is one of the many foes of Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts.

As drawn by artist John Ridgway, we can see for ourselves why Young Marvelman wasn't in such a hurry to escape the lethal caresses of Hypnos' Sirens Of Slumber.

"Everything you know is wrong" is a popular theme, first used by Alan Moore for Swamp Thing's "Anatomy Lesson!"

The Sirens of Slumber must have enjoyed meeting Dickey Dauntless.

Mr. Mxyzptlk is from the Fifth Dimension.

Costume changes have been known to polarize comic book readers.

Marvelman's unmasking of Hypnos as Gargunza is reminiscent of The Prisoner episode, "A. B. and C." where Patrick McGoohan's character unmasked Colin Gordon's Number 2 while in a dream-like state.

Steve Chung
"The Red King Review!"