MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL #13 WARRIORS OF THE SHADOW REALM

“The Soul Shrine”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Buscema

Tyndall, Velanna and Mud-Butt are learning the origin of the Darklens Gems. Darklens the evil dark god who was exiled to Weirdworld after challenging the other dark gods. Darklens was not happy and decided to get back in the good graces of his fellow dark gods. So he came up with a plan to destroy Weirdworld so he could impress them. The light gods sent a comet that crashed into him. His followers the Dark Riders managed to transfer his soul into the crystals. The crystals were somehow lost before the solstice.

So Zarthon transports our heroes to the Tomb of Limbo where the remains of Darklens is located. There they are to use the crystals to burn his bones and thus end the threat he poses. So they get there and get in a fight with some savage elves that are guarding the tomb. They convince the elves they are on the side of good and go to the tomb. There instead of burning the bones they find the body taken over by Zarthon who now is evil. The Dark Riders come and get into a fight with Zarthon who turns into Darklens. Luckily the innkeeper comes who is a mage for the light and turns into the giant white wolf and destroys both Darklens and the Dark Riders.

“Encounter At Half-way Earth-Weird”
By Doug Moench

A fictional interview with the cast of Weirdworld by Moench. He comes on them while walking in Pennsylvania and discusses their adventures. Kind of an interesting way to explain the writing of this series.

“Over the Hills and Far Away”
By Ralph Maccio

An article on the history of fantasy in literature. Kind of a dry boring article.

“Polychromatic Effulgence”
By Richard Marshall

An article on the early fantasy illustrations in America. He has examples from cartoon strips that appeared in newspapers around the turn of the century. This didn’t hold my interest.

The final issue in the trilogy. Now the story did seem to fall apart for me at the end. I mean Zarthon was good then evil. That wasn’t really explained well. Also the main characters were reduced to spectators. They just watched what was happening. To be fair thought the main draw for this series is the stunning artwork. Buscema claims this was his best work and I would agree. Once again we get spectacular double page full spreads. In one instance another three page pull out with a map on the back. The artwork is truly some of the best I have ever seen. It is a shame that this concept never was given the series it deserved. The Weirdworld was such a well developed world with endless story possibilities. Maybe some time in the future this concept will gets its day in the sun.

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MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL #12 WARRIORS OF THE SHADOWREALM

“The Darklens Gems”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Buscema

Tyndall, Velanna and Mud-Butt are enjoying a meal in the tavern when the warning goes out that the Dark Riders are in town. They usually come only to hunt someone. A mysterious figure in a cloak decides to get up and leave in a hurry. He bumps into Mud-Butt and knocks his head into his fork as he is lifting it. This causes a fight that tears the cloak off and reveals the person as the savage elf they helped earlier in the last issue. He is obviously the one the Dark Riders are hunting for they take off after him.

Tyndall decides to help him but they are too late to save the elf. They do manage to take his pouch with a plea to get it to Zarthon. The three then run away and are lead by a white wolf to an inn. The innkeeper gives them a safe room and the trio discover the pouch is full of five gems. At night the gems become demon wraiths but the white wolf comes and defeats them. In the morning they find out from the innkeeper where Zarthon is located.

So they go to a house build above a lake in a crater. There Zarthon tells them the gems are the Darklens gems. These gems hold the soul of the evil wizard that created the Weirdworld. His soul can be released by the silver light of the moon and his minions the Dark Riders are searching for these gems to release him.

“How This Book Came to Be”
By Unknown.

An article on how the artwork is done from the drawing to the coloring. A dry article.

“The Stuff of Which Dreams are Made”
By Richard Marshall

An article on the history of fantasy illustration in the US. Another dry article.

“A John Buscema Scrapbook”

Some samples of John’s early sketches for this book.

The second issue is another masterpiece. What is most stunning is the artwork. There are several full page drawing and they just look awesome. The full page spread for both Zarkon’s place from both outside and inside is just a thing of beauty. The story of course is also great. The trio are moving to a big confrontation for the fate of the world which is what these type of stories should be about. An abrupt ending but this was originally written to be one issue. I think it was a great idea to break it up. It allows for the stunning full page artwork which makes this such a treat.

MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL #11 WARRIORS OF THE SHADOWREALM

“Part The First”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Buscema

The dwarf Mud-butt and two elves Tyndall and Velanna are fishing in the Great Marsh. They are on their way to the City of Seven Dark Delights. They witness an elf with a mohawk come running by and Tyndall saves it from a swamp serpent. The mohawk elf continues on as if chased by something. Later nightfangs come by and follow the trail. So the three make their way across the marsh in a log with spikes to impale attacking swamp serpents. On the trip Mud-butt gets the two elves story. Tyndall found himself in a village of dwarfs with no memory of his previous life. The dwarves decide to send Tyndall to fight a darkness that threatens them. So Tyndall makes in through the shadow realm and finds a skeleton of a giant fish. Inside the skeleton is an egg that hatches Velanna. They have some adventure with an evil wizard but manage to escape.

So the group makes it to the City of Dark Delights. It is sort of the Vegas of this world. Mud-butt gives them a list of warning including if someone tries to touch you they should be killed. Otherwise have fun. So the group settles at an inn for a dinner. Meanwhile five sinister riders are approaching the city.

“The Knowledge of Elves”
By Doug Moench

A poem on Weirdworld.

“What Lurks Ahead”
A brief look at the upcoming stories with some illustrations.

“A Map of Weirdworld”
A full page map with a key explaining the major locations.

“A John Buscema Scrapbook”
Illustrations of characters from Weirdworld.

“Washed Ashore on Weirdworld”
By Doug Moench

An article on how Doug came up with the concept and the struggle to finally get this published.

“How This Book Came To Be”
By Unknown

Another article on how this issue was put together.

This series has to be one of the finest ever written. I remember as a kid being spellbound by the world. It was illustrated in bright color with several full page spreads. A pull out poster and one fold out three page spread. The world looked so beautiful and exciting. I had no problem imaging myself having adventures in this world. Even today I still have the same wonder as I did almost forty years ago. The cool map with such exciting places as the City of the Unclean or Forbidden Lagoon or Perilous Isles. There was a whole world to explore. It is a shame that very little was done with this concept. Except for this spectacular three issue run there were only a few more isolated stories run in various anthology series. A lot of imagination and thought went into this series. It sounds like shortly after Marvel had a dispute with the creator so that is why noting came of this.