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Cover Date: November 1981
Cover Price: US $0.60
Issue Tagline: Faces 'The Sword of the Iron Maiden' / A 27 Page Thriller!
Format: Color; Standard Comic Issue; 27 pages
Story Arc(s): Add/remove story arcs to this issue
Letters Column: The Life and Legend of Carolus Magnus
En route to Aix-la-Chapelle Arak and Malagigi are accosted by brigands. After a vicious battle with sword, arrows, otomahuk and Malagigi's infernal powders, all but one of the brigands lies dead. The survivor, Perro, begs Arak and Malagigi take him to his nearby hometown to die. Warily, they agree to honor his request. That evening around the campfire Arak and Malagigi recap the events of the last issue. Arak notes he spent eight summers pillaging with the Vikings.
Arriving at the town, the simple Frank villagers are suspicious of the magician and especially the "man with the blood-colored skin," but Perro (the brigand with a heart of gold) assures his neighbors these men spared his life and are his friends. it is revealed the village is in bondage to Baledor, an wizard and Malagigi's "arch-foe," the man who put Malagigi into the hands of Angelica and Argulia. Baledor employs a periodically dispatches to the village a powerful emisarry, "clad head to toe in dark armor" who comes "to skim off the cream of our labors and leave us the curdle," as one woman tells Arak. As if on cue, a villager runs in announcing "The Dark One comes!" Unimpressed by the townspeoples' description and undaunted in the face of danger, Arak lays a simple but effective trap for the mace-wielding black knight, and, while the villagers cower, Arak stands in the street like a Dark Age Matt Dillon as the dust cloud of the approaching horse arises in the distance.
Once the trap is sprung and the knight's helmet removed, all are stunned to discover the Dark One is in actuality a beautiful woman. Malagigi immediately speaks over her magical words that break the spell she was under; she awakens with no recollection of recent events, recalling only that she was standing before Baledor before her mind went blank. Malagigi introduces Arak to the woman, Valda, the Iron Maiden.
While the three stand and share notes, the villagers cast a net over them and determine to hand-deliver them to Baledor. Motivated by fear of the wizard's wrath, they decide also to bring Perro "for good measure," likely since it was he who brought to town the strangers who flouted Baledor's authority by defeating his champion. They trek across the terrain and arrive before a massive mound in the earth, constructed, as Malagigi explained, upon a "place of power," which may provide Baledor "sorcery enough to destroy them all!"
Baledor's evil is unsurpassed, as he dispatches his loyal followers and magically sets Arak and Valda fighting to the death...
This issue introduces VALDA, The Iron Maiden, a character who became a featured player in ARAK and who went on to enjoy some small measure of success outside the confines of this title.
The story's closing caption reads: "Next Issue: 'A Woodland Savage in Carolus Magnus' Court'" This clever title (a play on Mark Twain's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT) was unfortunately not used for #4.
The Hostess Cup Cakes ad features Red Tornado in "Clean Sweep." It is Reddy's sole starring role in a Hostess ad.
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