TITLE: 1st Issue Special vol. 1, issue #8
YEAR: November 1975
COMPANY: DC Comics
Written and Illustrated by Mike Grell
Edited by Joe Orlando
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”, Mike Grell was given the opportunity to step away from his work on superhero comics and his character “The 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 and “The Warlord” would become one of the top Sword & Sorcery titles in the ’70s-’80s.
And as for Mike Grell, he would be one of the most respected writer/illustrators to literally create his own comic book series, which was rare to see.
“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.
The story begins with Lt. Colonel Travis Morgan of the USAF to take photos of the new installation of their satellite.
The mission is high-risk and the Russians spot Morgan and shoot missiles at him. While he was able to deflect it, unfortunately it affected his fuel tank and he is running out of fuel.
Trying to find a place to land at Mach 5, he reaches the top of the world near the North Pole and he is able to parachute to an area that looks like a jungle but at 6:00 p.m., the sun is directly overhead and larger.
He doesn’t understand where he may be but fortunately for his survival, he has his knife, compass, his .38 special and 12 rounds of ammo.
While walking, he sees a Deinonychus (dinosaur) about to attack a woman with a sword. Seeing the dinosaur knock her out, he comes to her rescue and stabs it while the woman slashes it with her sword and kills it.
Unfortunately, the two are unable to communicate in the same language but while walking, a group of soldiers arrive and attack.
Lt. Morgan takes out his .38 special and shoots the men down.
He is then approached by an unarmed soldier and Morgan feels it’s for negotiation talks.
When they arrive to a city, they see Deimos, a high priest looking at his crystal ball which nearly bursts into Morgan’s brain. With one bullet left, Morgan shoots and destroys Deimos’ crystal ball.
The two are kept as guests and while napping, he awakes to find himself with a long beard. The woman he came with teaches him her custom and language and her name is Tara of Skartaris. She explains that her people are considered as savages and that Deimos is a devil. Meanwhile, Morgan explains to Tara of his theory of where he cam from which Tara doesn’t believe.
A servant overhears Morgan’s explanation and reports it to Deimos and now Deimos plans to assassinate both Morgan and Tara.
Overall, for those who are interested in reading Mike Grell’s “The Warlord”, 1st issue special #8 is essential to have in your collection as it explains how Lt. Morgan came to this new land.
For the most part, Mike Grell did an amazing job with the story and artwork and it no doubt made you want to read the series that came a few months later.
And if I have to say it, “The Warlord” is no doubt one of the best comic books that came out of the mid-to-late ’70s from DC Comics story/artwise. And to think it was all done by one man for a major comic book company is simply amazing!