THE WARLORD #66

“Wizardwar”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Dan Jurgens

Morgan and Jennifer arrive through the mirror just in time to save Rostov from getting his brains smashed out by Machiste. After things settle down the group gets down to the serious business of defeating the Evil One. Jennifer has a plan that requires the help of all the surviving wizards. So later the Evil One is gloating over his treasure and notices that the wizards have put all their gold in a pyramid. He’s elated since the gold is now in one place but it turns to horror when he realizes the power of the spell. He quickly transports there and finds out even his power can’t break through the magic barrier.

So with the Evil One out the group transports to his lair in the Great Fire Mountain volcano. They find the Book of the Dead but the Evil One returns before they can seize it. The Evil One imprisons them all in bubbles of force and implants the thought of dying in our heroes. When they think they die then in real life they will. Only Rostov changes to a werewolf and being a brainless animal breaks free and attacks the Evil One. This is enough of a distraction for Jennifer to break free and attack the Evil One. While distracted Morgan with the help of Mongo Ironhand knock the book into the volcano. The Evil One loses his power and turns back to the harmless little toad guy he originally was. The group escapes as the volcano blows.

So we get the big confrontation with the Evil One and its a fun story. The backup story is sacrificed for this extra long special story. It moves fast and has all sort of humor. Mongo is a great comic relief. Rostov and Mariah finally reunite and he finds out that she has moved on with Machiste. Rostov doesn’t seem to take the news well and the tension between him and Machiste is handled well. Definitely an unresolved issue for the future.

The big part of this story is the introduction of Jennifer and her powers. We get to see that she has in a short time become very adept at magic and holds her own against such a powerful being as the Evil One. We also get to see the origin of the pyramid and its curse from an issue years ago. Grell is great at keeping such events and integrating them into the story at a much later date. Indeed the whole Evil One character comes to a final end after hinted at much earlier in this series. All in all a great issue.

THE WARLORD #65

“Through The Glass”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artists: Dan Jurgens & Mike DeCarlo

Morgan has come back to Castle Deimos. The place holds many bad memories but he needs help from his daughter Jennifer. Jennifer has become a very accomplished sorceress since they last met. With a mirror she manages to view Morgan’s friends in Wizard World. Rostov, Shakira and their newfound centaur friend discuss their plan of action. The Evil One is killing off all the good wizards so they may have to settle for a more inept one. Fortunately Mongo Ironhand is close by.

Mongo with his friends Mariah and Machiste are discussing their plans in regard to the Evil One. They notice the trio approaching and think that they are agents of the Evil One. So they ambush them when they enter the tower. Rostov is distracted by Mariah which allows Machiste to gain the upper hand and he is about to use his spiked mace hand to bash his brains out. Morgan wants Jennifer to bring them back but she insists they go back for they are destined to fight this Evil One.

“Marauders of the Desert”
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randall

Jinal Ne’ Comarr is all that remains of the human expedition. After defeating the mouth tree she is confronted by a horde of men wrapped in burnooses and riding giant salamanders. She begs for help and they give it by putting her companion out of his misery. The mouth tree was poisonous and he was going to die a painful death. Its revealed that they are actually lizard men. They refuse to help Jinal and knock her out when she tries to make them.

Jinal then comes around and finds men. Human men but not very good ones. They plan to rape Jinal and make fun of her sword without a blade. They give her the sword back and Jinal then kills the leader. Its an energy blade that only activates to Jinal’s grasp. As she fights the others a burnoosed man on a salamander with a rifle helps her defeat the men. He is a human named Skinner and offers to help as Jinal passes out from her wounds.

So this issue of Warlord is mainly exposition to establish the players in this storyline. It was handled well and we get an understanding of the current state of Wizard World. Rostov finally reunites with Mariah but has no idea she is in a relationship with Machiste. Jennifer is now a very accomplished sorceress and all will finally get together in the next issue for the big battle with the Evil One.

The Barren Earth has finally introduced who the main character will be in its third outing. Jinal is a tough woman and shows it when she takes on the rapists. We find out that there are lizard men on this new Earth. There are also humans that are not all that good. But there are also good humans with the introduction of Skinner who seems an honorable warrior. The next installment hints at us seeing the human civilization up close on this future Barren Earth.

Oh and the letters page pointed out something that was very obvious. This cover was for the last issue and vise-versa.

THE WARLORD #64

“Elsewhen”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Dan Jurgens

The Kaash’ban have opened a portal in time and sent Rostov through it. Morgan reacts by swinging from a vine into the portal after him. Shakira comes along and once the two enter the portal Shakira continues through while Morgan is spit back out. Shakira meets up with Rostov and finds out that he agreed to be sent back. When he finds out that it is where he wanted to go he is elated. Unfortunately the two have to deal with a fire-breathing dragon that wants to make them a meal. They are saved by a centaur named Erin Shadowstorm. He agrees to take the two with him. In the present Morgan finds out that Rostov was on a medallion showing him fighting the Evil One. He continues on to his daughters castle.

“The Long Trek”
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randall

Five survivors are all that is left of the expedition to get the old garrisons ready on Earth. Now the group heads out for a city they saw while coming down. The group gets killed by an underground creature and a giant hermit crab. The final two are attacked by a tree with mouths for branches. Jinal Ne Comarr a minor member of the expedition is the only survivor and is confronted by a horde of giant salamander riding nomads.

The Warlord story is establishing that the action will take place back in Wizard World. Already Shakira and Rostov have a run in with its inhabitants. Erin Shadowstorm looks like a real interesting character and the revelation of Rostov destined to be a major player in defeating the Evil One point to an exciting story ahead.

The Barren Earth story was well done. It starts out with five characters and you never have any idea how it will end. Indeed the revelation that Jinal is the main protagonist was handled quite well. We establish that this future Earth is indeed one filled with danger. A short scene shows members from the garrison arriving at the abandoned ship and stripping it. They are not very civilized or friendly. It foreshadows that the garrisons left two thousand years ago may have fallen back to barbarism. This is the best back up story that appeared in Warlord.

THE WARLORD #63

“The Kaash’ban”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Dan Jurgens

Morgan and Rostov are on the way to visit Morgan’s daughter Jennifer in the hopes for a cure to Rostov’s Lycanthropy. They are passing the kingdom of Kaambuka which is ruled by his friend Ashir. The two get a warm welcome. Morgan is reunited with Shakira who is getting bored with the easy palace life. While there the city is host to the Kaash’ban a secretive religious sect that can talk to animals. The sect senses that Rostov has some wolf in him and convince him to accompany them to some ruins outside the city. Morgan and Shakira follow but are too late as a portal transports Rostov to Wizard World.

“Fate is the Killer”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artists: Curt Swan & Dave Hunt

Zodac comes to Eternia because he foresees the death of He-Man. Price Adam who is secretly He-Man gets a cryptic warning from the Sorceress. Meanwhile Skeletor with his henchmen Mer-man and Beast-Man go to Earth and retrieve the other half of the power sword. Superman notices this and follows them back. He manages to throw half of the sword away before falling to Skeletor’s magic. He-Man gets the other half and confronts Skeletor. The two throw their halfs and impale each other. Skeletor disappears and He-Man comes back to life.

“Stranded!”
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randall

It is thousands of years in the future. The sun has grown to a giant red sun and the Earth is a barren wasteland. A human ship comes to reactivate the military bases left over two thousand years ago. The war with the Qlov an alien race the humans have been fighting for centuries is coming back to this area. Before the ship can do anything they are attacked by a Qlov battleglobe. The ship self-destructs to prevent the Qlov from learning their mission and takes the battleglobe with it. A shuttle manages to escape and crash land on the Barren Earth.

So Morgan is back to good old adventuring and he picks up Shakira for company. This story is basically introducing the new storyline which will have Morgan going back to Wizard World. Grell has finally decided to tie up some loose ends with getting Morgan to defeat the Evil One that we have had glimpses of in past issues.

There are also two other stories in this book. The first is a free preview of an upcoming mini-series for The Masters of the Universe. Once again this preview worked because I did check out this mini-series. Will be reviewed sometime in the future.

The other is the new backup The Barren Earth. A real science fiction story with a cool idea. Already it effectively introduces the basic concept without giving away in what direction the story will go. It leaves the reader wanting more about the fascinating history of the Qlov and the futuristic Barren Earth. I will say that this is my favorite of the Warlord Backup series.

THE WARLORD #62

“Cry Wolf!”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Jan Duursema

It is the aftermath of the conspiracy. Morgan is trying to adjust to his freedom by throwing himself into training the troops. The brief affair between Tara and Graemore seems to be over for now but the gossip about it continues. Tara decides not to tell Morgan. It is here Graemore has an idea. He has heard that a wolf pack is terrorizing farmers. He suggests a royal hunt. Something to get Morgan away from the pressures of the court.

So a hunt is formed and tracks are found. A small group has broken away and has a human with the pack. Morgan takes Graemore along to track this pack. They find Rostov running with this pack. He is knocked unconscious. Later with Rostov back to his senses we get the story. Rostove found that after the moon left while reverting to human form he still retained the wolf personality. Morgan suggest going to his daughter Jennifer. This drives a wedge between him and Tara because he is once again going off on adventures.

“Madmen and Mages”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Cachulha is heading off to rescue Arion from the sphere that holds him prisoner. He is attacked by Chaon the lord of chaos. Chaon reveals in madness and chaos and doesn’t want Arion to be rescued. After all Arion is fated to save the world. Cachulha is too powerful and a demon he created eats Chaon.

Well this issue is basically getting back to what the Warlord is all about. That is exploring and adventuring in the lost world of Skartaris. Rostov the Russian werewolf is introduced to give Morgan the reason to go off and escape the stifling life of the royal court. Naturally Tara can’t go because of her duties. This is a real relationship that these two have. They are so different and such different personalities seem to have broken them up from good. At the end as Morgan leaves he passes Graemore and both share a silent look. Its obvious that its Graemore conveying he told him so. So will Morgan lose Tara forever. I suppose time will tell but lets face it, Morgan has to be Morgan if we are to have an interesting story.

The Arion backup is sort of a filler. It shows a minor tussle between old Cachula and Chaon. This is because Arion will be getting his own title and this is the last installment for the Warlord backup. A great character and well deserved promotion. Someday this site will explore that title. So what replaces it? Probably the best backup this title has ever had.

THE WARLORD ANNUAL #1

“Gateway To Doom”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell

The Princess Alisandre of Kalabas is on her way to meet her future husband the king of Groniko. Savages attack and only Alisandre and her minstrel Tristan are left. Luckily for them Morgan was around and decides to rescue them. He takes care of the attacking savages and offers to escort the princess. Now Alisandre is a self-centered spoiled brat and show little appreciation for her life being saved. She actually tries to knife Morgan in the back but Shakira intervenes. He continues to help her because he likes Tristan who is obviously in love with the princess. At a rest they try to bring the princess into Tristan’s arms by scaring her while she baths in a stream with a little lizard. The little lizard attracts a big one which Morgan then has to kill.

During this some men from Doomgate kidnap Alisandre to be sacrificed to their god Tarantis. They track the kidnappers to their city and enter posing as entertainers. While Tristan performs his magic, Morgan sneaks away and finds where Alisandre is held. He then has to rescue her from the god Tarantis who happens to be a giant spider. The spider is crushed to green goo by a giant statue and the group escapes. They make it to Groniko and find that it is a squalid kingdom with a very fat old man as its king. Morgan and Tristan have a good laugh at the look on Alisandre’s face.

So this is the first annual in the seven years that Warlord was around. They must have been feeling confident that this title would be around. After this each year would get an annual, that tradition of a super giant special issue to commemorate a yearly anniversary that comics used to do back in the old days. This was a really fun issue. One is that it was written and drawn by Grell. This would be the last time he would do this for the series. It was also welcome in that it brought back the spirit of this series. You had Morgan and Shakira wandering Skartaris saving damsels in distress. Fighting dinosaurs, savages, cultists and a giant spider. That was really welcome after the conspiracy storyline that had been running so far. This annual was awesome and seven years long overdue.

THE WARLORD #61

“The Talisman”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Jan Duursema

Tara is talking with the elder councilman about the recent events to take over the government. She looks outside and sees that Morgan and Graemore are dueling with swords. The fight is a friendly one but gets Tara upset nevertheless. So after Morgan and Graemore unwind with some drinks, Morgan gets the story of how he knows Tara. He and his parents were exiled after the relationship he developed with Tara. He tried to come back but was caught and whipped with the threat of execution for him and his parents if he ever came back.

Meanwhile Darvin is scheming to use the watch he got from Tinder to pass off one of his boys as the true heir to the throne. After delivering the message one of the boys on guard gets careless smoking and sets the place on fire killing Darvin. Morgan comes and finds the watch in the charred ruins which he give back to Tara. Tinder sees this and when he can’t get back the watch gets a place on a caravan heading out of the city.

“Moon Fall”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

The small globe of light that burst out of the surface has driven Garn Danuth away but has the opposite affect on Arion. It comforts him and claims that Arion is its son. Garn figures that Arion was killed and so goes to where his corporeal body lies. He occupies it and takes care of the sub-men that are attacking Chian and Wyynde. Choloh also decides to not sit by and defies the balance to go off and rescue Arion.

This issue was one to sort of tie up loose ends from the conspiracy story. Morgan gets to know Graemore and finds that he still loves Tara. Graemore seems to know that he doesn’t have a chance against Morgan but rightly surmises that Morgan will leave her and he will be there. Darvin had a somewhat quick and surprising ending. I thought there would be more with him but you have to hand it to Grell that when he wants to end something it gets ended fast and efficiently. I was originally disappointed on not having Tinder reunite with his parents but in hindsight that was a good move. It wasn’t the right time and would have complicated Morgan’s story. So we will have to wait for the big reunion in some far future issue.

Arion is shaping up to be interesting. What is this glowing orb? Is it really Arion’s mother? It was hinted at that Arion was born of the cosmos. Garn Danuth has stolen Arion’s body so that will have to be resolved. It is announced that Arion has graduated from backup to having its own comic. So its appearance in Warlord is coming to an end for a well deserved promotion to its own series. Something that will be reviewed in the future.

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.