THE WARLORD #60

“Death Duel!”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Jan Duursema

The assassins have arrived at the dungeon but find that Morgan is now free. Morgan uses the spikes on his helmet to plunge right into the big assassin. While this is going on Darvin sees Tinder and chases after him. Tinder escapes but not before he loses his watch armband. Morgan then even though weak manages to take out the other assassin with just a knife. Meanwhile at the palace Tara is growing more angry with phony Morgan’s attempts to make her just a figurehead. She plans to divorce him and Graemore confesses his love for her. A love she seems to welcome.

So the real Morgan comes to the palace and confronts the phony Morgan. The two duel and because of his prolonged captivity is on the verge of losing when Tara shows up. She points Morgan’s pistol but can’t tell the real Morgan. So she asks the question who is the King of Swing. The answer Benny Goodman almost gets the real Morgan shot. Then he thinks hard and remembers that the answer she is seeking is Babe Ruth. Tara shoots the impostor and Preador ends up in the dungeon in an iron mask.

“Star Rise”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Arion is battling Garn Daanuth. The magic threatens to cause serious damage to the Earth so Arion also projects his spirit from his physical body. He then leads Garn away from Earth to continue their battle. Chian and Wyynde are left to fight the awakened hordes of sub-men. Choloh the old master of Arion wants to help but is stopped by Tynan the balance because this battle must play out. The two combatants end up on a small red moon. Their fighting is stopped by a globe of light bursting from the surface.

So the conspiracy comes to a conclusion and it is exciting. Morgan manages to get free and even weak is still a fighter to be reckoned with. Tinder loses his armband that proves his heritage to the scheming Darvin. Tara is starting to fall in love with Graemore and now with the real Morgan back things will get complicated. So the conspiracy is exposed but there are still some unresolved issues that will be explored in the next issue.

The Arion backup was also a real action packed story. Arion is fighting the evil Garn Daanuth as disembodied astral projections. His friends are in battles all their own. We learn thousands of years ago that the Earth had a second moon. Ends with a cliffhanger of some mysterious globe appearing. A great issue overall.

THE WARLORD #59

“Tinderbox”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell

Tinder and his friends have snuck into the dungeon as most young boys will do. They have been told a monster is there and the large shadow cast on the wall of Morgan in chains and an iron mask panic the boys. In the panic Tinder is knocked off the stairs and to the floor. There he confronts Morgan. Morgan starved for companionship reaches out to the boy. He starts telling him stories of the surface world.

Meanwhile the conspiracy has decided to cut its losses. Praedor fearful that Darvin knows too much has hired two assassins to take care of both Darvin and Morgan. Tinder overhears Darvin say that his new friend may be killed so he manages to swipe the keys. Darvin is later confronted by the assassins and forced to go back to the dungeon. Tinder frees Morgan who while being helped up feels the watch on Tinder’s arm. He starts to ask about it when the sound of footsteps are heard.

“Of Lovers and Demons and Sorcerous Things”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Dursema

Arion and his companions Lady Chian and Wyndde are transported back to their flying sled. Arion has a lot to think about after learning he was born from the cosmos. At the same time in the abandoned city of Mu an albino sorcerer Garn Danuuth is plotting to kill Arion. He projects himself as a disembodied spirit and goes after Arion. Arion prepares to defend himself.

Well the big news is Mike Grell has returned as the artist as well as writer for this series. I was getting used to Texiera but still did miss Iron Mike’s work. So Morgan meets Tinder and both are unaware of their relationship. Although Morgan starts to suspect when he feels the watch. Yet events are going to conspire from them having a happy reunion. The conspiracy is coming to an end and it looks like Morgan will finally start being the main character in his own series. It is good to finally get back to some serious action.

The Arion story has introduced a mysterious new villain for Arion. Indeed he will be the major foil for Arion in this series. Also the romance between Arion and Lady Chian starts to heat up. Thankfully this series action is starting to also heat up. The next issue promises to be exciting for both stories.

THE WARLORD #58

“Royal Flush”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mark Texiera

The double of Morgan is starting to show his true self. He drinks and is sullen. In a bad mood he strikes Tara who draws her sword and almost kills him. Morgan’s double has driven Tara into the comforting companionship of her childhood love Graemore. We get a flashback to how these two met. Graemore’s parents were booty from a successful war. The father could sew and the mother was an accomplished blacksmith. The father was literate so with these skills would teach the young king’s daughter. Graemore meets a young Tara and as kids the two start a friendship. A friendship that grows as they mature. The king exiles the family to put a stop to this budding romance. Meanwhile Tinder is reluctantly forced to guard the dungeon. Darvin extorts more gold from Praedor for keeping Morgan in his dungeon. Darvin also remembers where he seen the armband Tinder wears. It was on the queen’s arm. So he realizes that he has the true heir to Shamballah.

“Darkworld”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Arion has awakened and is confronted by the powerful Balance. He is at a lose for what to do. Then from the image of the face of Cachulha comes power that floods him. His powers are restored. Then the mighty Cachulha his master appears. Arion’s loss of his powers were a test to teach the young mage humility. Cachulha casually sends the powerful balance away and tells Arion his origin. He was a child of the cosmos. Cachulha then sends Arion and his companions away.

Well this was an eventful issue. A lot of threads are starting to come together. Tara and Graemore start to rekindle their love. The conspiracy is about to end their charade now that they got what they wanted. Darvin realizes Tinder’s true heritage and Tinder is in a position to meet his real father. All this in an issue where the Warlord is absent in this own comic. Although the double plays a prominent role.

Arion is coming along. Not really sure what all is going on but it should get clearer with next issue.

THE WARLORD #57

“Double Entendre”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mike Texiera

Travis Morgan has been imprisoned in the dungeon of Darvin while his double has assumed his place. He contacts his main backer Praedor who heads the conspiracy. He’s to back their position now while Morgan is kept in the event they still need him for a hostage. Tara starts to reconnect with her old love Graemore. Tinder starts his career of cutpursing for Darvin.

“Death By Fire”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Lady Chian and Wyynde attack the sub-men to stop the sacrifice of Arion. Its a daunting task since their numbers are endless and could overwhelm the two brave fighters by sheer numbers. Meanwhile Arion in a coma is in battle with three beings on the metaphysical plane. They call themselves the Balance and consist of Chaon, Gemimn and Tynan. They goad him to use his powers which in the real world are unleashed breaking the ice prisons that the three were encased in. This was their plan to get Arion to release their physical forms.

So this is more of an exposition issue than anything. The main character is basically a prisoner in an iron mask. His double has managed to fool everyone including Tara. Darvin is involved with the conspirators as hired help. Tinder is stealing purses. On the whole not much is happening but sets up an interesting conflict for future issues.

Arion is also somewhat of a slow entry. The fight he was in ends with the Balance being freed so this also sets up an interesting conflict for future issues. So two slow stories but needed to further the plot.

THE WARLORD# 56

“Conspiracy”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mark Texeira

Joshua Morgan has made it to Shamballah after the Therans have killed his parents. He has taken the name of Tinder after his real name causes too much attention. His armband the Timex watch is also causing him grief. A gang of young boys are trying to take it. Just in the nick of time their leader Darvin a sort of Fagin type who controls the gangs of orphaned boys intervenes. He recognizes the armband and sees a great way of making money so offers Tinder a job.

Meanwhile his true parents are just blocks away in the palace. Morgan is about to get involved with politic. His ideas about freedom are not well received by the council who have a very medieval outlook on life. So Morgan storms out. He later sees his mate Tara greeting an old childhood sweetheart. He goes back to his room and feels he is getting old. An image of another Morgan confronts him in the mirror. When he turns he is knocked unconscious. A conspiracy is replacing him with a lookalike.

“Trial By Ice!”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Arion along with Lady Chian and Wyyndde the best of the royal guard embark on the quest to find Arion’s master Caculha. The quest takes them to the city of Taja. Once it was a seat of culture and learning before falling to the ice. Now it is inhabited by sub-men. The sub-men attack and Chian and Wyynde manage to hold their own. Arion on the other hand once again loses his magic and is taken prisoner. Chian and Wyynde pursue and come upon Arion about to be sacrificed by the sub-men.

A new chapter in Travis Morgan’s life. This one finds him hanging up his adventuring ways to settle in to court life. Grell shows through the wordless emotions how this affects him. Now he must be a politician and he doesn’t find it to his liking. He is also a bit insecure with the arrival of Graemore a minstrel who was a childhood sweetheart. He is feeling old and useless. Of course he is going to be replaced with a duplicate. Add the fact that his son is living on the streets and we are getting a story with intrigue and a touch of Oliver Twist. A different direction for the Warlord and one that shows a versatility in storytelling.

The Arion story is also taking an exciting direction. A quest to find his old master and recover his magic. Otherwise Atlantis is doomed to the ice age. We already get a glimpse in a possible future with the city of Taja. Wyynde is a great addition to the quest. A stoic native American looking warrior who is both fierce and sensitive. It ends like the main story with a cliffhanger. The story complements Warlord with the same sword and sorcery and we get the exploration and fights that are missing from the Warlord story.

THE WARLORD #55

“Have A Nice Day!”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mark Texiera

Morgan, Tara and Shakira are riding toward Shamballah when they come upon a battle. The forces of King Ashir are assaulting a fortress. The assault fails and the army is forced to retreat. Morgan and company then become the guests of their friend Ashir and find out whats going on. It seems that a group of brigands have taken over the fortress and are charging tolls on an important merchant rout. This was the third attempt and has ended in failure. So Morgan comes up with a plan. They build a giant smiley face with the words Have a Nice Day on it. Then leave it as a gift for the brigands. The brigands discover a hatch on the smiley face and set it on fire. The distraction allows Morgan to lead an armed group to capture the castle. Shakira decides to stay in Kaambuka as Morgan and Tara head off to Shamballah.

“Atlantis!”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

It is the 183rd year of the reign of King D’Tullah and an ice age has descended on Atlantis. Sub-men are storming the city to seek warmth. The high mage Arion is called on to drive them out. He does but has been finding his magic fading. When summoned before the king Arion must read the Oracle of Choloh. He received a vision from his former master to seek him out. Later another attack this time by dinosaurs drains Arion’s power and he almost falls victim to a raptor. Slaying it the old fashioned way with a sword he comes to the realization that he must find his old master Choloh.

This Trojan Horse story with a fun little twist was a joy. A sort of last little adventure for Morgan before he must hang up his sword and settle into the boring life of the court of Shamballah. Using a smiley face was pure genius giving the story a tongue in cheek humor. The epilogue had Morgan and Tara discovering the bodies of the woodcutter and his wife before arriving at Shamballah. This woodcutter was the foster father of their son Joshua who is presumed dead. Its revealed that he is now in Shamballah. An indication that Grell hasn’t forgotten about Morgan’s son and will be exploring that in the future.

The backup Arion was a great choice for this series. This ancient Atlantis that is being destroyed by the ice age has so much potential. Atlantis is a society that mixes advanced science with sorcery. The main character Arion has a lot of depth and so does his love interest the captain of the royal guard the Lady Chian. Definitely looking forward to exploring this world of magic and science.

THE WARLORD #54

“Sorceress Supreme”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mark Texeira

Morgan, Tara and Shakira return from their adventures and find Ashiya at Castle Deimos. Ashiya at first under the guise as Morgan’s deceased wife Rachel takes him by surprise. His daughter Jennifer intervenes with her new magical skills. She and Ashiya now battle one another and it looks like Ashiya will win. Jennifer manages to get in a final magical burst that sets off the Atlantean equipment. The power generator sends a lethal bolt of energy into Ashiya. At the end Jennifer decides to stay at Castle Deimos to continue learning magic as Morgan and company head back to Shamballah.

“Dragonsword”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Tom Yeates

Thiron is losing his fight with Quisel. Master Jarrand and Archmage Anne will not lift a finger to help him. Betrayed Thiron now fights for himself. Luckily he is immune to Quisel’s magic but is still getting his ass kicked by him. Just when it seems over the soul of the dragon merges with Thiron. They create a giant half-man half-dragon that kills Quisel. His death causes the castle to disappear. Jarrand and Anne are sad that Quisel is dead for he was their son and brother. Anne offers the ax to Thiron and her love so he could rule by her side. Thiron wisely declines since he has felt the soul of a dragon and knows what it means to be free. So man and dragon merge and fly off with the promise to come back if the world is ever in trouble again.

So all the loose ends have been tied up in the Warlord story. Ashiya gets her just deserts. Jennifer now is a sorceress and will remain a part of Skartaris. An interesting development and Morgan heads off back to Shamballah for what seems a more peaceful life. Of course that would be boring so you are left to wonder what is new in the Warlords life.

The Dragonsword also comes to a satisfactory conclusion. A surprise that the soul could merge with Thiron and become such a powerful dragon. Thiron and the dragon’s soul seem to have accepted one another and left it open for more adventures. Sadly this was the only backup feature in Warlord to never have been or become its own series. To my knowledge the Dragonsword has never appeared after this but who knows. They are always digging up obscure characters and giving them new life. Perhaps that will happen for Thiron and the Dragonsword.

THE WARLORD #53

“The Sorceress’ Apprentice”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mark Texiera

The Soviet helicopter comes to the downed MIG and disgorges a squad of troops. The troops are a bit surprised to find a man in a loincloth, a winged helmet and a sword. Morgan thought proves more than a match for the soldiers and takes them out. Then he throws the pilot out and takes the helicopter back to Skartaris. Meanwhile at Castle Deimos the witch Ashiya comes back. She needs Jennifer’s help in understanding the advanced machinery. So first she manages to remove the trauma that has been effecting her. Then she assumes the guise of Jennifer’s mother. She starts to teach Jennifer the mystic arts in exchange for knowledge about the machines. Morgan’s stolen helicopter runs out of fuel and he crashes it into the ice. Luckily he meets Tara and Shakira.

“Dragonsword”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Tom Yeates

Thiron along with Master Jerrand, Archmage Anne and squire Dysillus are transported to the castle of Emperor Quisel. There Thiron has to face various obstacles along his path. The skeletons of past champions now serve the emperor and try to stop him. A melting door that Thiron is immune to. Finally in the inner sanctum he fights the emperor. He is disarmed and knocked on the floor. His pleas for Anne or Jerrand to hand him his sword fall on deaf ears. They will not lift a finger to aid him and he must help himself.

So the first thing I noticed about this issue was that Mike Grell was no longer drawing it. He still was writing and did the cover but I noticed the change. After fifty some issues it was weird to have someone else draw this title. Texiera’s style was something I didn’t care for. It seemed blocky. Morgan’s loincloth looked like a skirt and he didn’t have his gun. Also he has a tendency to draw some odd looking nylon strip on Tara’s leg. Stuff like this just bugged me at first but he did improve in subsequent issues.

The story was good. Morgan fights the Soviet soldiers and steals a helicopter so we get him back to Skartaris without any further incident. The bright red uniforms the Soviets were wearing looked nice but not real authentic. Still I have no problem with a little artistic license. Ashiya coming back and teaching Jennifer sorcery was a fascinating development. The next issue will tie up all the loose ends to the storyline.

Dragonsword is once again excellent. There are hints that Thiron doesn’t know everything and his companions are interested in keeping him in the dark. Jarrand goes out of his way to silence one of the skeletons from speaking. Of course it ends with them giving no help at all so Thiron is on his own. The exciting conclusion will tie up this story too next issue.

THE WARLORD #52

“Back in the U.S.S.R.”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan is heading back from his epic confrontation with Deimos and runs into a polar bear. He manages to kill it with his pistol and speculates that it got lost and wandered into Skartaris. Later he finds out the truth that he is the one lost. For he comes upon the sun of the surface world. He forgot that the compass will point north any way he goes so close to the north pole. Before he can turn back a Soviet Mig fighter buzzes him. The fighter decides to open fire. Morgan manages to bring it down with is pistol. The story ends with a helicopter approaching. Meanwhile Tara and Shakira decide to head out in search of Morgan and leave Jenny in the care of Faaldren.

“Dragonsword”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Tom Yeates

Thiron has returned to King’s Isle and demands from the masters why his sword speaks with the dragon that he killed. The masters refuse and this gets young Thiron to challenge them. The head master opens a chasm and challenges Thiron to jump over it. When he does the chasm widens and he falls to his doom. But the Dragonsword has the soul of the dragon in it and can fly. So he manages to fly back and fight the master. Before the fight is finished a beautiful woman appears. Anne the Archmage and head of the school has arrived. She takes Thiron to her abode and tells him the story.

A long time ago the emperor Quisel made a pact with the dark forces to gain a battle ax. This ax is invincible and now the balance between light and dark is upset. The school has been searching for a warrior to take on the evil emperor. Now with the magical Dragonsword they believe that Thiron may be that warrior.

So this was a fun little side trip in Morgan’s adventures. He gets to visit the surface world and battle a Soviet Mig. Now that is a nearly impossible feat to take down a fighter jet with a pistol. Its understandable that he was so cocky after such a feat. Of course the pilot had friends and they are coming which makes a great way to end this.

The Dragonsword epic is rolling along nicely. Now Thiron is a young hothead which we get to see. I loved the test and his ability with this new mysterious Dragonsword. The dragon is very cryptic but consistent with his proclamations that Thiron is doomed. He also likes to pronounce his m’s as mmmmm. Dysillus the halfling squire is a great idea as the comic relief. I am looking forward to the confrontation with this evil emperor.

THE WARLORD #51

“This Savage World”
Writer and Artist: Mike Grell

A reprinting of Warlord #1.

“Dragonsword”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Tom Yeates

Young Thiron a recent graduate of King’s Isle is on a quest. He is to find a dragon and kill it with his new sword. He is accompanied by his squire Dysillus who is a talking ape. Thiron finds the dragon guarding his treasure horde deep in a mountain. The two then fight with Thiron jumping into the dragon’s mouth. Then he places his sword in the mouth and jumps out. The dragon shuts his mouth and impales the sword through his brain. Later at the local inn Thiron refuses the reward because he is unsure that the dragon is dead. For you see the dragon talks to him through his sword.

Well they decided to run a reprint of the first issue. At the time I was happy they did this because I had never read the first issue and it was good to get a look at Morgan’s beginnings. It is also a real good story and probably a good time to run it.

The new backup story also turned out to be a real winner. I loved this strange medieval world with dragons and talking apes. Both the dragon and Thiron are shown to be some sort of pawns in someone’s plan. Thiron seemed to be a good hedonist. He carries around a flagon of mead and goblets. He also will break the rules to have a good dinner at the local inn. The dragon imprisoned in his sword was an intriguing idea and I looked forward to the next installment.