Among the things I tend to pick up on my back-issue dives are comics that came out in my “golden age” -- approx. 1976 to 1985 -- but that I either had no interest in or just didn’t have the money to buy at the time. DC was my favorite publisher as a kid, so it’s the shaggy edges of their line -- the war books, the westerns, the sword-and-sorcery, the mystery titles -- that get a lot of my interest in the dollar bins. So here’s a look at some issues of Warlord I’ve picked up, out of chronological order, likely with huge gaps between issues. 

But for my first entries, I actually have three issues in a row -- Warlord #s 2, 3, and 4.  

A LOT happens. We open on Travis Morgan, the Warlord, tied to a tree-branch, crucifixion style. On page 2 (and 3), he’s attacked by a sabre-toothed tiger, but has broken the branch down and, in a double-page spread DRIVES THE TIGER BACK USING THE TREE HE’S BEEN CRUCIFIED TO. This is the Warlord aesthetic. It’s important that you love this if we’re going to get through this together.

Having defeated the tiger, Travis meets a sailor with a fancy name, travels with him to the sea, where he’s cold-cocked and press-ganged into being a galley slave. It’s here where he meets Machiste, who’ll be his longtime friend, sitting next to him at the oar. (Machiste has two hands here...this won’t always be the case.) Travis and Machiste, with a moment’s notice, try to revolt against their captors, but are defeated. They’re sentenced to death, but the PIRATES ATTACK! Travis tries to get the pirates to free them, but they won’t, so he helps the crew fight them off. Seeing them fight the captain decides to spare them from death and sell them as gladiators. That is the extent of his appreciation for Travis and Machiste basically saving his ship from plunder.

So: Now on land, Travis and Machiste are trained as gladiators. For a month (and a splash page) they fight, over the constant words of KILL KILL KILL. 

And then, of course, Travis and Machiste are told to fight one another to the death. But mid-battle, when Travis has Machiste on the ropes and is given the thumbs-down to end his life -- Travis notices a wristwatch on the prince’s wrist. In Skataris, that can only mean one thing: He knows where Tara is! Travis had given the watch to Tara, a girl Travis met and was separated from, presumably last issue. So Travis flips out, organizes a gladiator revolt, which succeeds (maybe there’s a fundamental problem with arming & training your slaves to be fierce combatants), and then Travis promises the freed gladiators a bunch of gold if they follow him to free Tara from Deimos, and more importantly THE CHANCE TO DIE AS FREE MEN.

And that is the second issue of Warlord. YAAR!


At which point the book went on a 7-month hiatus.

Views: 634

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for the info, Ron. Maciste can bend steel bars, but he's no match for marketers!

Like even heavy hitters in Not Brand Echh like The Thung and the Inedible Bulk were no match for the most powerful man in the comic book world, the guy in charge of the Comics Code.

I've been looking at a Savage Sword of Conan thread which points out another copy of that panel. Adult content.

That panel might have the best word balloon I've ever read. WOW.

And now we turn to Warlord #7. Travis has returned to Skartaris, bringing Russian archaeologist Mariah with him, and they plan to go the Shamballah. But Travis doesn’t know where it is – Tara only gave him vague directions, since she intended to travel with him – but in their searching, they stumble into the city of Kiro, where Travis’s friend Machiste lives.

Travis goes off to run an errand, and he tells Mariah to stay out of trouble. As soon as his back is turned, four armored thugs accost her, and although their intentions are unspoken, it’s obviously an attempted rape. On page 1. (I guess scenes like this wouldn’t be a notorious trope to avoid today if they weren’t so overused in the past.)

The Page 2 spread is Travis returning to lay down the smack as one of the armored dudes tries to force Mariah to the ground. What follows is a silent fight scene, in which Travis takes on three of them, and then one nearly gets the jump on him when his back is turned, but Mariah grabs her rifle and puts a bullet in his back.

Mariah’s obviously shaken by the encounter, and Travis comforts her the only way this man’s man knows how: He puts his hand on her shoulder and tells her, “For what it’s worth, you saved my life.”  Warlord, like most of Grell’s work, has a certain macho egalitarianism. Women are rarely the spotlight characters, but Grell usually stresses competence as much as beauty. (Well, perhaps a little less, considering he’s an artist first and foremost. But in Warlord, at least, there’s a certain amount of beefcake as well.)

Travis gets Mariah to trade in her rifle (almost out of ammo) for a sword. (Luckily, she’s a 6-time Russian national sabre champion, so she’ll be all right.)

He also gets her to change her clothes, because – and this is one of two eye-poppingly crazy things this issue – he figures her modern clothing made her conspicuous, which is why the rapists chose her to attack. So yes, the comic seems to be arguing: Dressed that way, she was asking for it. And by “that way,” I mean corduroy slacks and a button-down white shirt. As opposed to this:

See? Now you don’t stand out, Mariah. You blend right in to the subterranean Studio 54 that is Skartaris.

After their shopping and spa day, they get taken by surprise by some guards and thrown in jail. But soon afterward, they’re called forth from the dungeon and their weapons are returned to them…and they’re brought to the king. The king, of course, is Machiste, who’s sporting a badass new battleaxe in his right hand. Just hanging around his throne room.

Machiste tells them about his journe back to Kiro, where he was accosted by a tribe of beastmen, but he retreated to a cave and found the axe clutched in the dessicated hand of a corpse. He picked it up and returned to the fight, killing them all…but NOW HE CAN'T PUT THE AXE DOWN!

It’s about this time that a servant girl comes in and spills a goblet of wine. Machiste slaps her, and is about to kill her for the affront, when Travis stops him, punching him and telling him that he’s forgotten the ideals of liberty that they fought for since they were galley slaves. Then he turns in disgust and starts to walk out with Mariah. But Machiste calls the guards, there’s a big fight but Travis and Mariah take care of them, and then there’s a big one-on-one fight between Travis and Machiste. Machiste is about to deliver a killing blow, but Mariah tackles Travis to get him out of the way, and the axe sticks in the wall. And while Machiste is trying to pull it out…

TRAVIS CUTS OFF HIS HAND. The angle of the shot is such that you can’t see it happen – as when Travis decapitated Deimos a few issues ago, the wound is obscured by items in the foreground – but it’s clear that that’s what happened.

And then, next panel, we see Mariah cauterizing Machiste’s stump with a torch, and we get the following dialogue from Travis and Machiste:

Travis: “I…I’m sorry, old friend.”

Machiste: “No, Morgan! A man does what he MUST!”

That’s it! Machiste got his hand cut off, but he’s in a jolly mood anyway. CRAZY.

And then in an epilogue, one of Machiste’s trusted men takes the enchanted axe in a box to the top of a volcano. But instead of throwing the box in safely, he opens it to throw the axe in…but as soon as he does, he gets an evil grin and walks down from the volcano, evil axe in hand.

Next time: Well, I don't know for sure what's coming up next. I don't think I have issue 8, but I think issue 9 is on deck.

 

I know this has been discussed before somewhere, but is that makeup or a mask that's somehow magnetically attached to her face because physics are completely different on this world?

Yes, she looks much less like she's asking for it now... Feminists must love this comic.

Grell commented on time in Skartaris and the "ate twice and slept twice" line in a Comics Scene interview which has been transcribed here. He said it was supposed to be "ate twice and slept once", and time works the same way in Skartaris as elsewhere. I think he meant time flows the same way in Skartaris but is subjectively experienced differently since there's no moving sun marking its passage. The idea comes from Burroughs's Pellucidar books.

I figure ate twice and slept once=9-10 hours, ate twice and slept twice=something over 32 (assuming 16 hours of activity between the two sleeping periods).

Thanks, Luke! That ate/slept line is from this issue, when Mariah is basically having a spa day and getting her new outfit. (And the interview goes on to mention Travis's helmet covered in webs, from issue 6, too!)

Ron, I'm guessing it's makeup of some sort, but maybe we'll learn otherwise in future issues. Although I'm guessing we won't.

And, well, I'm a feminist, and I love this book -- although (though that lens) more as a case study of gender roles in this era of action-adventure stories than as behavior anyone should aspire to.



Luke Blanchard said:

Grell commented on time in Skartaris and the "ate twice and slept twice" line in a Comics Scene interview which has been transcribed here. He said it was supposed to be "ate twice and slept once", and time works the same way in Skartaris as elsewhere. I think he meant time flows the same way in Skartaris but is subjectively experienced differently since there's no moving sun marking its passage. The idea comes from Burroughs's Pellucidar books.

I figure ate twice and slept once=9-10 hours, ate twice and slept twice=something over 32 (assuming 16 hours of activity between the two sleeping periods).

As I have mentioned many times, in the seventies I was primarily a superhero fan, but I would buy the first issue of practically anything in order to get in at ground level of a new series. Warlord was one such series. I was only a little disappointed to learn that #1 was not, in fact, Warlord’s first appearance. The next issue I saw was #4. I bought it, but it was the last one I was to see for years to come. The next issue I bought off the rack was the “Legends” crossover.

More recently (in the ‘90s), I attempted to buy the entire run of Tomb of Dracula, cheap, from an ad in CBG. By the time the dealer got my order, the series was sold. He contacted me and offered to either return the check or send another series in its place. Warlord was available, so I asked him to send that. I hung onto it for a while before I finally got around to reading it, but I started a discussion of it on the old board (circa 2003). I got as far as issue 30-something before my interests took me elsewhere. I always did mean to get back to it at some point though.

The early issues have been collected in tpb. Consequently, I’ve re-read those the most often. There was a follow-up series in 2009, mostly by Grell, which lasted 16 issues. I read and enjoyed that one. Mike Grell doesn’t pronounce the name “Machiste” the way most of us probably do, and I think he knows it. I pronounce it mah-KEY-stay, but he once pointed out that he pronounces it MACK-is-stay.

BTW, a tpb of the “director’s cut” of Starslayer has been solicited for May 31 release. I recommend it to all Grell fans.

It would have come out sounding better if her old clothes had gotten badly torn in battle and the new outfit was the best she could find to replace them.

Whereas Maciste was pronounced mah-SHEES-tah in Triumph of the Son of Hercules (aka Triumph of Maciste.)

Maybe, but I like the "When in Rome..." explanation well enough (except without the ugly caveat that if you don't dress in the local style, you're liable to get targeted for rape).

Ronald Morgan said:

It would have come out sounding better if her old clothes had gotten badly torn in battle and the new outfit was the best she could find to replace them.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2018   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service