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Thursday, 6 July 2017

1st Issue Special 8 - Warlord debuts

The only one of the seven "sword and sorcery" series to debut in 1st Issue Special, Warlord, made its bow in issue 8 (Nov. 75), with a story by Mike Grell. This would be the first of only two strips to move from 1st Issue Special into its own book.

The tale begins on June 16, 1969. US airforce pilot Travis Morgan is flying a spy mission at the North Pole. Russians spot him and fire some missiles, which he avoids, but then his plane's systems begin to malfunction, and he has to crash land.

Morgan bails out, and to his surprise winds up in a tropical realm, where the sun never seems to move in the sky. Things get even weirder when he sees an oddly dressed woman fighting a dinosaur. He helps defeat the dinosaur, and then holds off a small group of armed men who want to attack her.

The woman brings Travis Morgan back to a city with a huge palace. Morgan is so confused, not understanding anything people are saying, but he understands that he is being presented to the ruler. The court sorceror takes an instant dislike to Travis, and tries to harm him with a magic spell channelled through a crystal ball, but he figures out what is happening and shoots the crystal ball, shattering it and ending the effect. The women of the palace bathe Morgan and dress him in their version of clothing.

Travis takes a long sleep. He is not sure how long, but he wakes up with full grown facial hair, in the style that Grell loved to draw. Green Arrow sported the same style. Since the sun never moves or sets, he has no way of determining time. Well, he had a wristwatch, but the woman, Tara, takes it from him and starts wearing it as an armband. Fortunately, Travis finally learns how to communicate with the others in this land, Skartaris (named for the mountain in HG Wells "Journey to the Centre of the Earth"). He tries to explain to Tara that she lives in the "inner Earth," and that he comes from the world on the outside, but she finds his story preposterous.

The conversation between Travis and Tara about where he is from gets overheard by one of the court women, who brings the information to the sorceror, Deimos. He is pleased to know the truth, but keeps the information to himself by turning her into a snake.

As the issue ends Deimos sends soldiers to kill Travis Morgan. He fights them off, and he and Tara flee the palace.

Grell's art is so sleek and sexy, and the overall concept is so clever, being both a present day story and a classic fantasy one, merged so harmoniously. Warlord begins as its own book within a couple of months.

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