Wednesday, April 14, 2010

TSR Worlds Annual 1 (Chapter 4)

A wonderful awful idea... This chapter continues the storyline of both the annual itself and of Forgotten Realms Issue 14.  As you may recall, Jasmine had been captured by “Bluebeard” the lich and his sassy demilich sidekick.  The Realms’ Master crew is preparing to assault the lich in his lair, but the lich wants a little private time his new bride.

Luckily, the appearance of the mini-me Spelljammer gives him an idea.  Having read comics himself in his youth, the lich realizes that when two groups of heroes meet for the first time, they must have a misunderstanding that leads to a fight.

The demilich leaves to put the plan into action while the lich plays out his bondage fantasies with Jasmine.


Anyway, the demilich teleports to the mini-me Spelljammer and uses an Alter Self spell to take on Jasmine’s appearance.  More properly, he tales on the appearance of Jasmine’s ghost.

Jasmine as a ghost apparently lacks eye liner

When “Jasmine” appears to the crew and relates her tale of murder and betrayal, Meredith is understandably skeptical of this convenient haunting.  The demilich is an accomplished liar though, and with the help of an ESP spell manages to win over the crew.

Someone has ranks in Bluff 

(As an aside, look at how Rags Morales uses body language to sell this scene.  This is what separates good art from mediocre art)

Back to the story, Captain Omen and Minder are discussing how to begin their assault on the lich’s lair when the mini-me Spelljammer swoops down from on high and demands they prepare to be boarded.

I love how  nonchalant Captain Omen is about this

Just to ensure there is no chance of cooler heads prevailing, Tember immediately sprints from the ship to shout accusations of murder at the first person he sees.  Luckily for us, this turns out to be Vartan.  Vartan then opens up a can of whup-ass and does what we have all wanted to do since Tember first appeared.

This may be Vartan's Crowning Moment of Awesome! 

Thank you Vartan, I feel better now.

That looks like a homerun The two crews fight it out in pretty stereotypical comic book fashion.  First one crew has the advantage, then vice-versa. Notably though, Agrivar shows some of that paladin wisdom by ignoring the fracas below and ambushing the demilich lurking above.

Despite Agrivar and Ishi’s best efforts, the demilich recovers before they can strike a killing blow.  Deciding he is having too much fun watching the battle below to be distracted by a couple of fighter types, the demilich gates them to his master’s castle.  After all, he figures his master can dispatch them without much trouble.

Ah, hubris.

While the demilich was distracted, the fight below has cooled down from a all-out brawl to a shouting match between Captain Omen and Meredith.  Meredith continues to accuse Captain Omen of murdering Jasmine while Captain Omen protests his innocence.  Minder notices the demilich lurking and the combined group decides to deal with him once and for all.

Minder has been trying to make that spot check for eleven rounds

Inside the castle, Agrivar and Ishi pick themselves up of the ground after being unceremoniously teleported there.  Ishi sees a light ahead and they attempt to sneak their way into the liches chamber.  Before they get to the door though, the lich tells them they can stop whispering because he heard them when they landed in the hallway.

Got to love a snarky lich.

Yet another May December Hollywood romance

This pose is learned in paladin school Agrivar demands the lich release Jasmine while striking a heroic pose.  Not surprisingly, the lich decides to respond with a lightning bolt.  He is kind enough to thank them for standing so close together before doing so though.

Ishi recovers first and kicks the lich in the face.  The only effect this seems to have is to turn the lich on (eww… again).  The lich starts to talk about how when he is done with Jasmine that Ishi might be next in line.

This enrages Ishi who screams that he would have to kill her before she would submit. 

Unfortunately, the lich decides this is a sound suggestion and summons a fiend from one of the “nastier lower planes” to drag Ishi and Jasmine off.  The lich promises that the fiend will “return with your corpses when he is finished showing you his home”.

Man that lich is one twisted guy.

By this time Agrivar has recovered, but realizes he only has time to save one of his companions from the beast before it retreats through the gate.  Acting on instinct he leaps forward and saves Ishi.

And we have a winner!

And thus Jasmine is cosigned to a fate worse than death.  Well, she would be if not for the combined Realms’ Master and Spelljammer crews arriving just in the nick of time to save her.

Facing the combined crew alone, the lich decides discretion is the better part of valor and runs down the hallway (after conjuring a Wall of Fog to cover his escape).  He ultimately decides to hide in the ice cavern where he keeps his dead wives, but ends up getting a bit of a surprise.

That is what you get for ignoring them for so long

After the lich buries himself under several tons of rubble, it is revealed that Captain Omen created an illusion that the lich’s wives had come to life in order to unnerve him. 

With Jasmine rescued and the lich situation resolved, the two crews say their farewells and prepare to part ways.  Jasmine reveals that Meredith offered her a spot on her crew and that she plans to take it.  She also congratulates Ishi on winning the “Duel of Hearts”, leaving the swordswoman with a satisfied smile on her face.

I miss Jasmine already

Goodbye Jasmine, you are already missed.

Well, tune in next time for the final chapter of the TSR Worlds Annual 1, or as I like to call it “the horror continues”.


  • This seventeen page story is the only reason I am reviewing this 70 page comic book annual.  As always, Rags Morales delivers on the art.  Jim Lowder is the writer of this segment and he does an a admirable job.
  • I enjoyed both the demilich and the lich a whole lot.  The demilich was both intelligent and had a sardonic wit, while the lich was believably creepy and insane.  I really enjoyed how the two played off one another.
  • I grabbed a lot more scans than I normally do for this kind of post.  I was just so grateful that there was decent art in this book that I just couldn’t help myself.
  • I will admit that the conclusion of the “duel of hearts” seems both rushed and a little contrived.  I am glad they tied up that plot thread though.
  • I was very sad to see Jasmine go.  I feel she really added something to the Realms’ Master crew.  I did pick up a few issues of Spelljammer after she crossed over, but I was pretty unhappy with her portrayal in that book.