THE WARLORD #109

“The Revenge of the Vampire!”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

Morgan and company are battling Mortalla’s vampire horde and losing. They do manage to take out the vampires but Mortalla is already gone to retrieve her amulet. She gets it and starts to resurrect the dead into an army. Morgan and Shakira with Kbdarr go to the village shaman. He powers up the groups weapons so they kill vampires easy. Then its off to the village where her army is slaughtering the villagers. Morgan and his friends are captured but Morgan manages to escape. He is able to grab the amulet and turn it against Mortalla. She is forced to flee. The world is save from her for now. Daimon is left in a half-dead state which Morgan mercifully puts out of his misery.

The conclusion to the Mortalla vampiress saga. This was kind of a mediocre story. Everything was very predictable and it was a breeze for Morgan to win. Mortalla survived but was never destined to appear again which tells you how interesting the character was. The subplot has Machiste and Mariah having the magic bone boat break up and them forced to swim for it. I didn’t like Fleisher’s portrayal of Machiste as a whiner or Mariah and her newfound obsession with Morgan. Foreshadows events that I was not impressed with. Oh and Daimon was given a noble dead and went to dipshit comic book character heaven. It was very obvious the character was a dud and thankfully he was mercifully put out of his and our misery.

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THE WARLORD #108

“The Cold Night of the Undead!”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

Morgan, Shakira and Daimon are traveling through one of the valley’s with a perpetual cloud cover. Thus it has a winter-like environment. Suddenly they are attacked by men riding mammoths. When Shakira turns into a cat to save Daimon the men panic at the sorcery and flee. Later the three set up camp and Daimon goes off to gather wood. He hears a woman’s voice calling him and it leads to a tomb in the middle of the frozen wastes. Inside is a beautiful white-skinned woman with a wooden stake through her heart. Daimon decides to pull it out and the woman awakes very grateful.

Later Morgan goes looking for Daimon and finds him. Only he is now under a trance with incredible strength. The mammoth men show up and drive him off. They tell Morgan their story. That a long time ago the female vampire called a Lamia terrorized Skartaris. Only through weight of numbers were they able to drive a stake in her heart and imprison her in the isolated tomb. An amulet that gives her the power to raise armies of undead is buried under a tree not far off. So Morgan and Skakira join the men to search for the Lamia. They find her but she has turned some ice fishermen into her slaves and they ambush the group. Meanwhile Mariah and Machiste are under attack by the water demon. Mariah gets their captive to boil the sea and the demon. Then the skeleton boat they are on begins to disintegrate.

OK well this was a decent story. Daimon is a dense guy. Anyone with a brain cell would know not to take out a stake from what is clearly a vampire. This guy’s time is fast approaching and he will not be missed. There is a nod to Grell with this story. A valley with a cloud cover and men that ride mammoths. Reminds me of the classic issue 9. Strange that there are several of these valleys around. Sounds like a potential story idea. Sadly never explored. The Machiste/Mariah subplot is coming along nicely. We already see Mariah bitching about poor Machiste’s indecision and pining over Morgan. More on this in future issues.

THE WARLORD #107

“Bride of Yaug!”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

Morgan, Shakira and Daimon are crossing a desert when they are attacked by sand squids. The squids take the pack horse but the three manage to get to rocky ground. They then have to weather a sandstorm but come upon a city. When they enter the city looks abandoned but they are attacked by green bald men. The leader stops the attack and welcomes the travelers. They are given a meal and place to sleep. Morgan wakes up from the aftereffects of the drugged food and finds Shakira gone. He wakes up Daimon and follow the chanting of Yaug. The men are the sons of Yaug and sacrificing Shakira to a bull-man. Morgan battles Yaug as Daimon frees Shakira. Morgan throws a flaming cauldron which starts the stone? building to burn. Soon the whole city is on fire as the three race away. Meanwhile Machiste is subjected to watching Mariah be executed by the wizard-priests of Unmschall. it is an illusion but this breaks Machiste. Mariah manages to ambush her guards and with a captive guard free Machiste. They force the captive to assemble the skeleton crew and boat but as they leave a giant water man attacks them.

So this issue starts out intriguing. It has a feel of the old Grell days. But it soon just turns into a hackneyed cult that sacrifices women to a bull-man. And what the hell kind of stone is the city made of? It bursts into flame like dry brush. There is some moments like the dream where Morgan had of discovering his daughter aged and the final panel where he is worrying about her. Its about time he started to be concerned for Jennifer. So far he just wanders around without a care in the world. There should be a sense of urgency to his quest which has been lacking.

The subplot with Machiste and Mariah continues to show potential. This weird island that likes to torture people has great possibilities. The way they broke Machiste was believable and I loved to see Mariah back to her old bad-ass self.

THE WARLORD #106

“The Secret of the Crystal Skull”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

Morgan and Shakira are in the town of Shalmander the furthest town on the known map of Skartaris. While there Morgan rescues a woman who is being robbed. The noble woman Ladah Panar is grateful and invites the two to her palace. Morgan needs rest and Panar offers to have her servants haggle for the supplies. So they get a tour of her collection of art which includes a rare diamond rumored to fit into a crystal skull. The other diamond is owned by the magistrate Imag Grann. So while they sleep a black cat comes and steals the diamond. Morgan thinks its Shakira but she denies it. Shakira does know who did it and finds a man named Daimon at the home of Grann. Daimon and Shakira have a romantic past and Daimon can also turn into a cat. Shakira convinces him to return the diamond but Grann comes and shoots an arrow into Daimon and takes the diamond.

Morgan comes and helps Shakira with the wounded Daimon. Then goes and confronts Grann who took the diamond to power up a crystal skull. With a helmet he also unearthed he now has powerful psychic abilities and attacks Morgan. Only Morgan manages to draw his pistol and put a bullet through his forehead. He then helps Shakira with the wounded Daimon. Meanwhile Machiste and Mariah are taken by the skeleton barge to the island of Unmschal. The warrior-priest there like to take survivors of the shipwrecks they cause so they can torture them.

This was an interesting issue. The big news is the introduction of a romantic interest for Shakira. Someone who comes from the same people as Shakira and turns into a black cat. A rogue who can be persuaded to do the right thing by Shakira. The story ends with it being uncertain if he will survive his wounds. At this stage I was neutral about the character. Neither liking or disliking him. I give Fleisher marks for trying to establish some sort of origin for Shakira but I think only Grell could do that story justice. The side plot with Mariah and Machiste has some interesting developments. What I didn’t like is the whining of Mariah. This is just not her character.

THE WARLORD #105

“Stalkers of Shinnar”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

Morgan and Shakira come upon a man being attacked by lizard-men on giant lizard mounts. Morgan comes to the rescue and saves the warrior who is named J’hundra. Two of the lizard-men ride off and J’hundra insists on going after them. He says they are dangerous and must be stopped before they attack others. Morgan is more than willing probably sensing a good fight. As they ride along J’hundra charms Shakira but Morgan is little suspicious. What do they know of this warrior? They catch up to the two lizard-men and during the fight both are killed. J’hundra is overanxious to take out both lizards. Then he gets some cramps and falls down the hill where Shakira goes to help him. Morgan takes the time to talk to the dying lizard. He finds out that J’hundra is really Melchor a being from another dimension. A being that takes the life force of others and also their shapes. The lizards are agents responsible for bringing him to justice. He fights Shakira who is really Melchor and kills him. Shakira is restored and the two ride off. From the decayed corpse a slug emerges and takes over a caterpillar. Not dead yet? Meanwhile Mariah and Machiste are the only survivors of the ship that crashed against the rocks and a barge of skeletons is coming to pick them up. In Kiro the evil N’dosma assumes the throne and kills the forger who made the false documents that claim Machiste made him the heir.

Well this was a mixed bag issue. The overall story idea was sound. This is pure Grell for Morgan to jump in and save someone only to find out later that person didn’t deserve saving. A cool idea with the lifeforce stealing alien. I do question why the lizard-men didn’t have some more advanced weapons. If they are jumping around the universe and dimensions you would think they’d have some impressive guns. Shakira is also still way out of character. She is the one urging Morgan to save J’hundra when she has normally advised against such rash actions. The subplot with Mariah and Machiste and the usurping of the throne of Kiro has great promise. Definitely a high point in the ongoing story.

THE WARLORD #104

“Dragon Skinner”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

Morgan and Shakira come upon three men killing a mother Allosaurus for her skin. They are going to butcher the hatchlings but Shakira stops them. She is helped by Morgan who shoots the ax out of one of the skinners hands. This does not deter the dragon skinners and later they observe that Shakira can turn into a cat while she is taking a swim. So they grab her and get Morgan to give over his pistol. The leader then shoots Morgan but only grazes him. Morgan wakes up and goes after them. He stops at the dead Allosaurus to get a weapon the giant crossbox bolt that killed her. Only the male comes back and thinks Morgan killed his mate. So a big chase ensues with Morgan managing to escape. Morgan finds the group after the leader kills his partners. He takes the gun but the male Allosaurus comes and because the leader took a fang from his mate he eats him. In a subplot Machiste and Mariah board a boat in Bakwele disguised as priests. The conspirators in Kiro pay off the man who claims to have assassinated them but is betrayed himself when he finds a deadly snake in the money pouch.

Well we finally get a permanent artist in Ron Randall and he is an exceptional artist. Unfortunately I have a number of issues with this issue. Shakira is nothing like the feline that Grell established. She interferes with some guys trying to make a living. I mean dinosaurs aren’t an endangered species so what’s wrong with hunting them. Obviously these guys were tools but they were just going about their business. Shakira is also swimming in water which has been established as something she hates. She also goes around wearing a sword.

Morgan is wasting ammo a lot. It was established that he is on his last clip but uses it for some fancy shooting to hit the ax. He also just gives the pistol to a primitive who has no knowledge of firearms. He could have set the safety. Just so many sloppy characterizations. The only interesting thing is the subplot with the conspirators in Kiro. Sadly Fleischer just doesn’t have a good understanding of the characters.

THE WARLORD #103

“Moon Beast”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Jerry Bingham

Morgan is passing through a village during a time when the moon is passing by. A rare sight in the world of Skartaris. He finds out the streets are empty because a big white tiger is roaming and attacks him. It looks like the end but the moon leaves and the light drives the tiger away. He finds out from the people that the tiger comes from a wizard. It just so happens the wizard’s castle is along the way so he decides to check it out. Inside the castle he finds a young woman Tamara who has been turned into a werecat. Seems her uncle has an obsession with turning women into cats. The last place they lived the villages drove them out because he was stealing women for his experiments.

Well the uncle and his goons manage to capture Morgan. The uncle is going to use the prism that turned Tamara into a werecat on him. The moon though turns Tamara who breaks out of her room and kills her uncle as they both fall to their deaths. At the end Shakira comes riding up to Morgan. Morgan notices she wears the same collar that the wizard’s experiments wore and tears it off. Meanwhile Machiste and Mariah are heading to Kiro. They are ambushed by assassins and knocked into a raging river and carried downstream.

Well this story was an interesting one. Tamara is somewhat dumb. I mean her uncle is turning women into cats. He gives her a collar that he uses for his experiments and she doesn’t get what her uncle is doing. Fleisher decided to sort of give an implied origin for Shakira. I think that Grell probably had something more interesting in mind. Too bad he never revealed it. So we must wonder about the origin of Shakira. The side plot with Machiste and Mariah has some great potential. Their own quest for Machiste to reclaim his throne was a good idea but didn’t live up to its full potential as we will see in future issues.

THE WARLORD #102

“Deathwatch”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artists: Paris Cullins & Martin King

Morgan is heading back to this crashed plane to retrieve more bullets for his .44. He finds that a cult has taken over the wrecked plane and is about to sacrifice a beautiful blonde woman. Morgan wastes no time and starts to hack his way through the crowd. Using his last bullet that seems to scare off the cultists. The woman he rescues shows little gratitude. For Zupara is queen of the Q’Enara Amazons and has no use for men. But she does swallow her pride to accept a ride with Morgan.

So along the way she tells her story. Her tribe fled the surface aeons ago to escape the male patriarchy. Zupara had just become queen and the funeral procession on the river was attacked by a giant lizard. She manages to kill the beast but is swept down and was captured by the cultists. Soon after the two are ambushed by slavers and captured. As the slavers play dice the two manage to get free and kill the slavers. Then they stop at a tavern for some drink. Zupara cuts off the ear of a drunken man who was coming on to her and they flee. Later they reach her lands and are captured by the Amazons. Morgan is sentenced to death and Zupara must fight a bald butch woman to save Morgan. She wins the fight and the bald chick goes head first into the burning cauldron they were fighting over. Morgan is freed with the warning not to return. Meanwhile in a sub-plot Machiste and Mariah are heading back to Kiro while those in power plot to stop them.

So this issue was OK. It was a bit hackneyed with the Amazons. It also seemed to be filler with the two getting captured and escaping. Then a bar fight and a challenge by the ugly bald chick for leadership. One thing that perplexes me is where did these woman get all the hairspray. Did a container of it fall off a ship and float down to Skartaris. You have the love the eighties. Oh and there were some things that bothered me. One is the SR-71 “black”bird was not black but yellow. Also the seats are back intact when they were ejected in First Issue Special and issue #3. Some very poor continuity in this issue. Matter of fact the art didn’t impress me either. Oh well you can’t have every issue perfect.

WONDER WOMAN CONAN #6

“A Feast of Forbidden Flesh”
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti

Wonder Woman is back in her time and depressed that she abandoned Conan. Her mother makes her promise she won’t go back. But her sister Amazons decide to help out and break into the chamber with the magic mirror. Back in Shamar the Corvidae’s army has the city surrounded. Conan wages a one man war against it but can see it is not enough. So he approaches the sisters and offers a wage. He will fight their best champion without blades. They agree and he faces a monster crow creature. Conan manages to get it in a choke hold with the golden lasso. Wonder Woman and the Amazons arrive and start kicking butt. Soon all the human inhabitants of the city are inspired to fight and the army is routed. Conan and Wonder Woman manage to kill the Covidae. Conan is reunited with his childhood sweetheart Yanna. Only she is married with children so leaves but Conan is happy. He found out Yanna survived the fall into the chasm and is happy. Wonder Woman takes her lasso back and leaves for her time. In the present she is at a coffee shop when a guy in a business suit asks for the honey. He looks just like Conan so she asks him out to lunch.

The final issue tied up the plot nicely. Conan and Wonder Woman get together and kill the evil sisters. They save the city and Conan gets some closure with Yanna. I find it amusing to think of Conan in our time. Conan the stock broker. “By Crom sell high”. This was a cool idea. Putting these two characters together was handled well. They worked well together and had a believable story. The artwork was beautiful and it was interesting to see a young Conan in love. A new side to the character. I have no doubt that some more wild team-ups for Conan are in store for the future.

THE WARLORD #101

“Temple of the Demigod!”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Andy Kubert

Morgan is off to see a warlock that could help his daughter Jennifer from the debilitating old age she is now afflicted with. Along the way he has to deal with the remnants of the Vashek assassins. He takes them out but gets an arrow in the shoulder. Morgan just walks it off and continues on. He arrives a the palace of Muldahara a drag queen. He/She is wanting the Eyes of Ankanar twin rubies in a golden statue of a bird. Morgan sneaks in and comes on another thief a beautiful blonde woman. She realizes that Morgan is not a priest but it is too late for they are discovered. The woman uses her bolo to take out the priest but he recites an incantation while he dies. This brings to life the golden statue into a giant bird. Only it consuming a human soul will turn it back to a statue. The woman takes one of the priests and feeds him to the bird. The two make it out and go their seperate ways. Morgan finds out from Muldahara that a powerful wizard V’zarr Hagar-Zinn who dwells in the House of the Celestials by the Greenfire Sea is Jennifer’s only hope.

So a new era in the Warlord saga. A new writer and some various artists until they settle on a permanent one. This seemed very similar to how Morgan started out to find Joshua in #16. A mystic with dubious motives who demands that Morgan steal a gem from the temple of a cult. There are also some differences. Morgan is working alone but runs into a thief. The beautiful thief remains unnamed and we never see her again. This was too bad because I thought she had great potential and was sure she would make another appearance. The drag queen wizard was funny and Morgan finishes off the Vashek assassins who were the most overrated assassins I ever heard of.

So for the most part this was a solid story and promised an exciting quest for Morgan that would take him to new unexplored lands and adventures. One thing I didn’t care for was the way Fleisher portrayed Mariah. He had her as a real whinny and crying woman which was not the Mariah that Grell created. Also she is starting to have this infatuation with Morgan which was just all wrong. Otherwise a good issue.