New Reviews of Old Comics
I find as I’ve gotten older I’m more willing to try new things. Warlord was around when I was in my teens and early twenties collecting comics, but I would look at the covers on the spinner rack and think “Hope there is an old Spider-Man comic behind that top one,” and never give Warlord a try. Big muscle bound dude wielding a sword and pistol? Nah. Not my thing. Recently I discovered that Warlord was done by Mike Grell; I was a big fan of Jon Sable, Freelance when he created that, and who didn’t love his work with Green Arrow, either the Longbow Hunters or the regular series that followed. I met Mike, however briefly, at the 1988 San Diego Comic-Con and had him sign a copy of Green Arrow #1. That and Jamie Delano signing Hellblazer #1 were probably the highlights of my autographs (Arthur Adams signed the front cover of Gumby’s Summer Fun, which was kind of a letdown for some reason). Oh wait, Kate Worley signed Omaha #1 for me, which was very cool.
So last time I was at the comic shop I found a couple Warlord issues among the piles and decided to give it a try. Despite the fact muscle bound dudes still aren’t my thing, I think I might be hooked on this title. It’s a nice change of pace from the super hero stuff, plus the story is good and the art is even better. The cover is something of a pin-up type drawing, rather than a reflection of the story.
“The Challenge” was written and illustrated by the afore-mentioned Mike Grell. It starts with someone known only to readers of previous issues making a pact with some sort of demon type character to get revenge on Warlord, and losing a mangled up arm in the process. Guess the devil is collecting body parts these days instead of souls. Warlord is riding along with a thief buddy of his searching out a valuable treasure called The Eye of Truth. They find the temple that supposedly holds said treasure, beat up a dragon and meet a parrot that guides them (sort of) through the rest of the puzzle that reveals The Eye of Truth. Basically the puzzle impels each of them to reveal their deepest secrets and worries.
Normally I like to make jokes about the absurdity and cheesiness of the comics I write about here, but I really enjoyed this one and can’t find much to poke fun at. Well, let me give it a try; Warlord must have a phobia of clothes because he’s riding through a blizzard on horseback wearing a helmet, a skull on his shoulder, a loin cloth and boots. Jack Frost is nipping at more than his nose. I don’t know if it’s just this issue or the whole series, but there is a serious disproportionate lack of cheesecake women compared to the beefcake dudes. I hope this is corrected in later issues.
Notable Ad: In 1979 Fruit Stripe gum had a sweepstakes where you had to send in two gum wrappers along with identifying what is wrong with the picture in the ad. Um, besides the train on the river and the boat on the train tracks? Or is it the zebra piloting both vehicles? Who knows, who cares. The grand prize is a trip for four to Disney World (this was before even Epcott was open); 2nd prize was a ten speed bike and 3rd prize was a transistor radio. That’s a pretty steep drop from 1st to 3rd, though maybe in 1979 a transistor radio was like a hundred bucks, though I doubt it. And isn’t Fruit Stripe the worst gum going? The flavor lasts for about three seconds and then you’re just left with a flavorless ball of rubber in your mouth.