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Comic Book / Swordquest

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Swordquest is the name for an unfinished Comic Book series developed and published by DC Comics, written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway and illustrated by George Pérez and Dick Giordano.

The books were an integral part of Atari's Swordquest adventure game series for the Atari 2600. Players would play the games and discover various numeric codes; the codes referred to page numbers and panels in a pack-in comic book, where the player would find a word hidden in the artwork. Players who found all of the words and assembled the correct sentence could then send it to Atari and be entered into one of the contests. There were four games and four contests in all, each with a $25,000 jeweled prize created by the Franklin Mint — the Talisman of Penultimate Truth, the Chalice of Light, the Crown of Life, and the Philosopher's Stone. The winners of these contests would then compete with each other for the grand prize, a Sword of Ultimate Sorcery worth $50,000.

The Comic Book itself chronicled the adventures of Torr and Tarra, orphaned twins who went into hiding because the evil King Tyrannus feared a prophecy of death at their hands. After crossing paths with the sorcerer Konjuro, they are visited by two mysterious guardians who start them on a quest for the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery, the only thing that can stop Tyrannus. The twins travel through four elemental worlds — Earthworld, Fireworld, Waterworld, and Airworld — braving various dangers along the way.

The series was never completed; The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 prevented the last game, Airworld, from being released. According to George Pérez, artwork for Airworld was never started, and while a synopsis might have been written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, it never received final approval, much less a script.

The pack-in comics for Earthworld, Fireworld, and Waterworld can be read here. Details about the games themselves can be found here.

Years later, a spin-off comic book story Swordquest Realworld by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims was released. Instead of finishing the plot of the original series' story, it was a story about a fan of the original game series and his obsession with it to the point where he wondered about its final prize.

The Swordquest comic books provide examples of:

  • Androcles' Lion: In Fireworld, the fire-goblins spared by Torr later return the favor by summoning Tarra to rescue him when he's attacked by an undersea monster.
  • Anime Hair: Konjuro's hair curves above his head in two points, not unlike Wolverine's.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The beings of Earthworld are these for the Western Zodiac.
    Tarus: "I am a living incarnation of zodiacal mysticism!"
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: King Tyrannus, full stop.
  • The Artful Dodger: Torr and Tarra, who have grown up as parkour thieves on the streets.
  • The Beastmaster: Aquana of Waterworld, who commands various undersea creatures in her war against the air-breathers.
  • Big "NO!": Tarr, when Konjuro tells him that the twins must die.
  • Burning Bird: In Fireworld, Tarra fights (and briefly rides) a fire hawk.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": While drowning in Waterworld, Torr refers to being trapped "in Davijoen's Locker."
  • Combat by Champion: One occurs in Waterworld to settle a fight between the air-breathers and the Aqualanians.
  • Conflict Ball: After arriving in Fireworld, Torr and Tarra have an argument and go their separate ways. There is no rhyme or reason for this other than to separate them for the sake of the plot.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In Waterworld, the war between the air-breathers and the Aqualanians is interrupted when both Captain Frost and Queen Aquana are knocked unconscious, and Herminus convinces everyone that their newfound lovers — Torr and Tarra — should settle things with a Duel to the Death instead.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Played straight for the most part in Fireworld; Torr, Tarra, and Herminus run around a Lethal Lava Land with gouts of flame everywhere, but suffer no ill effects aside from profuse sweating and a constant thirst.
  • Cool Boat: Done literally in Waterworld when Tarra encounters the Ice Queen, a pirate ship made entirely out of ice.
  • Crystal Ball: Konjuro watches the twins on their quest with a giant crystal ball.
  • Cut Short: The Swordquest series as a whole — only the first three issues (of four) were released.
  • Disney Death: Happens to Torr in Waterworld, when Tarra believes he's been killed after finding a sunken skeleton wrapped in bits of Torr's armor.
  • Divide and Conquer: In Waterworld, Herminus manipulates the amnestic Torr and Tarra to fight each other and settle the war between Captain Frost and Aquana.
  • Dye or Die: Torr and Tarra's bright blonde hair is dyed a medium-brown to prevent Tyrannus from suspecting them while they were growing up.
  • Evil is Petty: Malavol, Captain of Tyrannus' guards, kills Torr and Tarra's foster parents merely for being in the way while they rode through town. Then he demands that the two of them bury the bodies quickly before he rides back that way so his horse won't have to step on them. Even Konjuro expresses how idiotically petty that was.
  • The Evil Prince: Tyrannus, who was the son of the former King Reullo.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Konjuro, The Dragon to Big Bad King Tyrannus.
  • The Faceless: Mentorr and Mentarra wear large robes that leave their faces completely in shadow.
  • Faking the Dead: Lady Wyla throws Tyrannus off the trail of the infant twins by jumping into the ocean with two jars wrapped in swaddling cloths in full view of his guards.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: The mer-people of Waterworld apparently start all names with "aqu-". Their kingdom is Aqualania, their ruler is queen Aquana, and she gives the amnesiac Torr the name "Aquon".
  • Fantastic Racism: In Waterworld, the air-breathers and the Aqualanians are on the brink of war. The pirate leader Captain Frost kills a snow-whale just to prevent them from possibly siding with the Aqualanians.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: To further prevent threats to his rule, Tyrannus imposes a nightly curfew in his realm, enforced with flying four-armed demons with flaming swords.
  • Fiery Salamander: Aquana commands a giant sea serpent that can breathe fire.
  • Finders Rulers: Played with in Waterworld, when the twins give the two halves of the Crown of Life to Aquana and Captain Frost so they can work together and reunite the world.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Torr and Tarra.
    "A son and a daughter, as alike as two flowers from the same cutting!"
  • Hellish Horse: Tarra rides a horse of flame in Fireworld.
  • Horned Humanoid: Seen on several of the Earthworld denizens, such as Tarus, Capricorn, and Aries.
  • Identity Amnesia: Occurs in Waterworld, when Konjuro uses a spell to make the twins forget their identities and their quest.
  • Instant Ice: Just Add Cold!: Torr fights off some fire-demons with magic arrows that instantly freezes whatever they hit.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Fireworld.
  • Love at First Sight: In Waterworld, Tarra and Captain Frost are quickly smitten with each other after he rescues her from the sea, while Torr and Aquana quickly bond after he rescues her from imprisonment.
  • MacGuffin: The Sword of Ultimate Sorcery and the Talisman of the Penultimate Truth, which the twins must retrieve to defeat Tyrannus.
  • MacGuffin Title: The story is about a Quest for a Sword.
  • Mage Tower: Konjuro lives in a tall and hard-to-enter tower separate from Tyrannus' main castle. He keeps his gold and magical artifacts in there.
  • Meaningful Name: The Big Bad King Tyrannus is aided by his sorcerer advisor Konjuro, while the twins get cryptic directions from Mentorr and Mentarra.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: In Waterworld, Torr and Tarra pause in the middle of a life-or-death duel to offer prayers to their respective gods.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Herminus, who frequently boasts about his expert thieving skills and cutthroat nature, but never demonstrates anything out of the ordinary.
    • In Earthworld, he runs across several valuable artifacts, such as soundless Shoes of Stealth, but never retains any of them for long.
    • It's even worse in Fireworld, when he gladly turns over the Chalice of Light to the protagonists — after replacing it with a decoy — then leaves to go treasure-hunting. Egregious when you realize that the Chalice is a never-ending source of water in a Lethal Lava Land where dehydration is a constant danger, and doubly so when the twins soon discover that it's a Portal Pool to Waterworld.
    • He fares a little better in Waterworld, when he talks two warring factions into settling their dispute with a Duel to the Death between the twins instead. However, that required taking advantage of their Easy Amnesia and a Contrived Coincidence that set things up in his favor.
  • Miracle Food: The Chalice of Light is always filled with clean, drinkable water.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: Lady Wyla leaves the infants Torr and Tarra to be raised by her husband's faithful scout.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Captain Frost kills a snow-whale to prevent them from siding with the Aqualanians in a possible war, but that's the very act that prompts the Aqualanians to immediately declare war.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Torr and Tarra were destined for a life of quiet submissiveness, but became inspired to rebel against Tyrannus only after one of his captains killed their foster parents in a moment of pettiness.
  • Ocean Punk: Waterworld is a fantasy version of this trope.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The Aqualanians from Waterworld, a race of undersea merpeople; aside from their yellow-green skin and green hair, they look like humans (complete with legs) and are capable of breathing air.
  • Papa Wolf: Lord Tarr, who immediately attacks King Tyrannus when the latter calls for the death of Tarr's infant children.
  • Parental Abandonment: Torr and Tarra's parents are long dead when the story begins.
  • Pirates: The crew of the Ice Queen is a motley band of humanoid creatures led by Captain Frost.
  • Plot Coupon:
    • Earthworld has The Warrior's Sword, which opens up a fissure when Torr and Tarra get it, and is abandoned soon afterward,
    • In Fireworld, the Chalice of Light opens a Portal Pool to Waterworld.
    • Played with in Waterworld; everyone is after the Crown of Life, but it ends up being given to two of the world's residents while the protagonists proceed to the next realm.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Gemini from Earthworld, who is composed of an evil white shade and a helpful black shadow.
  • Portal Pool: In Fireworld, the Chalice of Light grows to enormous size, and the water within it becomes a gate to Waterworld.
  • Precrime Arrest: Tyrannus orders Torr and Tarra to be killed simply because Konjuro prophesied his death at the hands of blonde-haired twins.
  • Reluctant Monster: Cancer of Earthworld is a gigantic green crab who cheerfully helps rescue explorers who've fallen into its tidepool.
  • The Rival: Herminus, a thief who's also after the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: In Earthworld, Torr and Tarra learn that battles aren't always won by violence.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Waterworld is half underwater, half frozen ice floes.
  • Spirit Advisor: Mentorr and Mentarra, two hooded figures who give clues to the protagonists.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Played with; Shortly after arriving in Waterworld, Torr finds a helmet that lets him breathe underwater. However, after he meets the Aqualanian queen Aquana, he no longer needs it.
  • Sword over Head: In Fireworld, Torr spares a pair of fire-goblins (who were attacking him) after they are backed into a corner and cowering for mercy.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Torr and Tarra, who were named after their father, Tarr.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: When Aquana discovers that a snow-whale has been slaughtered, she immediately declares war on the air-breathers above the ocean.
  • Threatening Shark: In Waterworld, Torr is attacked by sharklike fish covered in spikes as soon as he regains consciousness in the water. They calm down once they're in the presence of Aquana. The sharks later join the other Aqualanian sea creatures in attacking Captain Frost's ship.
  • Western Zodiac: The theme of the Earthworld realm.
  • Wreathed in Flames: Just about every creature in Fireworld is subject to this trope.