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Showcase Presents: Warlord Vol. 1 Paperback – September 22, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Showcase Presents (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics; First Edition edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401224733
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401224738
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,702,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Writer/artist Mike Grell has a well-established career in comics, as well as the fans to back it up. He's known for his work on DC's Green Arrow and the Legion of Super-Heroes, as well as his own creations John Sable: Freelance and Starslayer. But for many, Grell's claim to fame is Warlord, which is best categorized as "his own creation for DC" - meaning DC owns it, but if anyone other than Grell handles it, it just doesn't work (I'm looking at you, Bruce Jones). DC recently brought Grell back for a new Warlord series, and we now have a Showcase volume to help us catch up on the early stories.

Warlord was introduced in 1975 in DC First Issue Special #8, in which Air Force pilot Travis Morgan is shot down over the Arctic Circle and ejects over what he thinks is the Yukon Territory. He instead parachutes into the hidden world of Skartaris, where he embarks on fantastic adventures. If you think you've read this story before, you probably have in one form or another. Grell pulled every trick he could from the Edgar Rice Burroughs handbook - a hollow Earth; a savage, time-lost land; humans coexisting with dinosaurs; dangerous yet sexy women wearing next to nothing; a modern man dropped in the middle of it all - and then improved upon them. At times, it reads as a standard fantasy pastiche, using some familiar (and annoying) tropes, but then it goes beyond the genre with interesting angles and plot elements. Also, Grell makes it a point to end almost every issue with a tantalizing epilogue that either foreshadows events or contributes to the mystery of Skartaris' origin, making the overall story surprisingly cohesive. It's no question that Conan the Barbarian ruled the sword & sorcery roost of comics' Bronze Age, but Warlord was a worthy competitor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've collected many DC Showcase and Marvel Essential titles only to discover that their charm is lost on an older, more jaded reader. I've also noticed that many series involve a painful slog through the first couple-dozen issues where the writer had yet to find his legs. Neither are the case here.

Mike Grell's Warlord starts off strong and then only gets better. Travis Morgan rarely feels like a cardboard cutout hero with a big lantern jaw. He's a canny adventurer, articulate and pragmatic. It's evident that this is a writer who actually knows about weapons and tactics, unlike so many writers who base their ideas on the contrivances they've seen in movies and other comics.

Unlike many wandering heroes of sword-and-sorcery tales, the Warlord boasts a supporting cast of fleshed-out characters. Grell created formidable females--Tara and Mariah--that were deadly warriors rather than helpess objects long before it became an obligatory cliche of politcial correctness. His fellow warrior Machiste serves as a foil with his more down-to-earth, self-interested point of view. And what's a great hero without a worthy nemesis? The arch-wizard Deimos menaces Morgan throughout the series, seemingly always ready to summon some gargantuan demon for Morgan to outmaneuver.

All of this and Grell's magnificant art. His penchant for double-page panoramas had a great deal to do with the comic's appeal in its day, as it delivered a lavish spectacle you simply couldn't get anywhere else. The absence of color is a pity.
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Format: Paperback
First introduced in DC's 1st Issue Special #8 in 1975, and getting his own title in 1976, Mike Grell's Warlord was strongly influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar series, borrowing the concept of a hollow Earth. Lt. Travis Morgan is an Air Force Pilot flying a reconnaissance mission over Russia. An encounter with Russian fighters damages his plane and he flees over the North Pole. When Morgan finally ejects he finds himself in a strange new jungle world. Morgan has entered a chasm some 800 miles below the Earth's surface to find a hidden, savage world where Dinosaurs still exist and ruthless tyrants dominate this world known as Skartaris. This hollow, inner world surrounds a miniature sun, making it daylight all the time and its inhabitants are unaware of the surface world.

Morgan and a native girl named Tara are captured and taken to the city of Thera. It is here where Morgan first encounters the High Priest Deimos who will become his archenemy. When Deimos attempts to assassinate Morgan and Tara, Morgan kills the assassins and he and Tara flee into the world of Skartaris for a life of battle and adventure, with Morgan earning the title Warlord from the free people of the land. Grell's series combines magic, science, and Atlantean lore. The Warlord's adventures range from typical swords & sorcery to strong science elements.

Grell is one of the most underrated comic talents of all-time. He is a magnificent storyteller and a very fine artist as well. In fact the black and white format of these Showcase editions perfectly "showcases" Grell's fine line detail. I've always thought the Grell's style was a blend of Silver Age greats Gil Kane and John Buscema. The 528 page book collects 1st Issue Special #8 and issues #1 - 28 of the on-going series. If you've never read Warlord this is a great chance to immerse yourself into a fantastic adventure epic about time DC gave The Warlord the Showcase treatment!
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