© DC Comics, Inc.
The first run of this title by writer/artist Mike Grell had quite a successful and long run from 1975 to 1989. It’s swords and sorcery, taking place in the world of Skartaris, with a central sun and a world encircling it, as if on the inside of the earth, an idea Grell freely adopted from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Pellucidar stories. I didn’t read all the first run, but enjoyed them from time to time, and lettered some as well.
I sat next to Grell in artist’s alley at last year’s San Diego Comicon, and listened to him talk about this new revival while drawing the characters for people, and I remembered how much fun it was back when. By the end of the con I was sold, and looking forward to the relaunch. Here it is, written and with covers by Grell, interior art by Brazilian penciller Joe Prado and inker Walden Wong.
The art looks fine, though the faces seem a bit off here and there. But it’s a good, realistic art job that reminds me of Grell’s own work on the title, with perhaps more detail. Nothing wrong with that. Prado handles the familiar characters well.
The story begins in our world, present day, as an adventurer is enlisted to help investigate a cave in Tibet that has the corpse of a dinosaur in it. After setting up some new characters, they reach the cave (following some trouble, of course) and discover a gateway to…somewhere. We know it must be Skartaris, of course.
Then the story shifts to a recap of the origin of The Warlord, Travis Morgan, filling the rest of the first issue.
Issue two restarts again with Travis Morgan, his wife and friends in the present day facing new threats in Skartaris. No sign of the new characters who vanished through that gateway in issue 1. Some of this one is more recapping to reintroduce the characters, and the beginning of a new quest/battle for The Warlord. I found the writing a bit clunky at times here. Hopefully things will pick up in the third issue, and the new characters will turn up there.
There were always some things that bothered me about the basic setup of The Warlord, and they’re still present. The physics of the world itself is hard to fathom, and the relationships of Morgan, his Queen/wife and his cat/mistress are more wish fulfillment than real ones. I thought Grell’s writing on GREEN ARROW was a definite step up from Warlord in that the characters seemed more grounded and more real. But THE WARLORD is still a lot of fun if you don’t think about it too hard.
Oh, and I like the fact that they kept the original Mike Grell logo design, but rendered in computer 3D. Grell’s covers look quite nice, making me wish he’d done more of the art, but the team as it is works well together. Recommended.