TITLE: The Warlord – vol. 6, Issue #48
YEAR: August 1981
COMPANY: DC Comics
Written and Illustrated by Mike Grekk
Inker: Vince Colletta
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: Ben Oda
Editor: Ross Andru
In the late ’70s, it was a creative time for DC Comics. Experimentation with different types of stories and what would entertain reading audiences beyond superhero books but for DC Comics, the swords and sorcery genre was not its forte.
As Marvel Comics achieved a major home run with titles such as “Conan the Barbarian” and “Red Sonja”, but Mike Grell was given the opportunity and Warlord debuted in “1st Issue Special” issue #8 (November 1975). While “1st Issue” didn’t last long at all, fortunately, Grell was able to create his own series that didn’t cross into the DC Comics Universe (at that time) and “The Warlord” issue #1 was released in 1976 and a second issue followed.
But with word that the series was canceled, there was uncertainty. Despite being told by DC Comics publisher Carmine Infantino, that he had a full year with “Warlord”.
Grell explained on his website:
Unfortunately for me, Carmine wasn’t exactly true to his word. I picked up the third bi-monthly issue of THE WARLORD and read “THE END” on the last page. That’s how I found out it had been cancelled. No phone call, nothing.
Unfortunately for Carmine, Jeanette Kahn arrived a couple of weeks later and assumed the mantle of publisher of DC COMICS. It seems that Jeanette made it a point to read all the titles in the lineup and THE WARLORD was her favorite. When she looked at the roster and found it missing, she asked what had happened to it and was told that Carmine had cancelled it. I’m told (and I choose to believe it, because it makes a great story) that she said, “Well, I just cancelled Carmine. Put it back on the schedule.”
And that was a good thing because “The Warlord” would last 133 issues (and followed with other volumes, until the Mike Grell returned for the fourth volume). Grell would go on to write through issues 1-52, while his wife at the time, Sharon, ghost wrote issues #53 through #71. Grell would end his run to focus on a creator-owned series for First Comics, “Jon Sable Freelance” and “Starslayer”. The former which would become a short-lived live-action TV series on ABC.
While Grell is also known for his work on “Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes”, “Green Arrow” and even worked for Valiant Comics where he created “Shaman’s Tears” which would feature multiple guest appearances by Jon Sable.
But it was “The Warlord” which jettisoned Mike Grell into superstar status. Grell’s “The Warlord” and Roy Thomas’ “Arak” are my favorite sword and sorcery comic book series and Arak made his debut in “The Warlord” issue #48.
Before, I get into the issue, for those not familiar with “The Warlord”, the comic book series revolves around Vietnam War veteran SR-71 pilot Travis Morgan who passed through a hole in the Earth’s crust while flying over the North Pole in 1969 and lands in the underground world of Skartaris.
In issue #48 of “Warlord”, Shamballah Princess Tara is a bit despondent that Travis Morgan has left to find his daughter Jenny in the Land of Shadow.
Travis Morgan and Shakira end up walking towards a village and see a woman about to be sacrificed. Before she is killed, Morgan shoots the person with his pistol and kills off anyone who tries to stop him.
But just when Morgan claims that the woman is under his protection, she conks him in the head with a club, knocking him out.
Morgan is tied up and will be sacrificed to the Ice Dragon. Can Shakira save Morgan?
As mentioned, this issue includes the first appearance of “Arak: Son of Thunder” by Roy Thomas and Ernie Colon. In this short story, Arak is searching for jewels or treasure (amber), but during his search, he sees a woman bathing. Ashe watches her, she sees him and sends wolves after him. But Arak quickly kills the wolves and prevents the woman from using her weapon.
But while talking with her, he is attacked by Vikings and left for dead. As he awakens, he sees the Vikings taking the woman to a treasure trove of amber and when they lie her down on it, the amber turns into a beast that is about to attack the woman.
But Arak shows up to try to save her, but in his way are many vikings and the beast itself.
Also, included isa “Claw” storyline by Jack C. Harris and Tom Yeates. The story features a man who has a claw of a demon. He has tried to slash it but to no avail.
Immediately when he asks the Lords of Light why they have treated him in such a way, he is told that it was because his forefathers reached into the forbidden world’s of Shadow seeking power and grasped the groping claw of a demon which now belongs to him. But now he must use the the demon hand for good. And he is given the sacred helmet and shining sword of Moonthorn.
As Claw travels to the city of Ichar, which is under siege by hordes from the Seven Shadow Hells, Claw goes to use his power for good, but not knowing that the one leading the evil monsters is a monster with a human hand.
Overall, “The Warlord” is simply a magnificent series worth reading. While I did not read any of the later volumes, I may be compelled to, since vol. 2 (1992) and vol. 4 (2010) are written and illustrated by Mike Grell.
But for those wanting a wonderful series and are also a big fan of “Arak: Son of Thunder”, “The Warlord” issue #48 is worth reading and owning!