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In the savage world of Skartaris, life is a constant struggle for survival. Here, beneath an unblinking orb of eternal sunlight, one simple law prevails: If you let down your guard for an instant you will soon be very dead.
The Warlord is a sword and sorcery comic book published by DC Comics. The series and titular character debuted in 1st Issue Special #8 (November 1975), and was created by Mike Grell. The Warlord was first published in 1976 and ran until 1989 for a total of 133 issues and six annuals. There was also a 6-issue miniseries in 1992 written by Grell.
Vietnam veteran SR-71 pilot Travis Morgan passed through a hole in the earth's crust while flying over the north pole and landed in the underground world of Skartaris, a place strongly reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Pellucidar. There Travis, wielding his .44 Auto Mag pistol and joined by scantily-dressed female barbarian Tara, became the Warlord and fought villains such as the evil sorcerer Deimos as well as various kings. He gained various sidekicks such as Machiste, Shakira, a Russian scientist named Mariah and his magic-wielding daughter Jennifer Morgan. In one story arc Morgan even becomes the U.S. President in the far future (Issue 84).
A new Warlord series was launched in 2006, produced by writer Bruce Jones and artist Bart Sears. This series restarted the concept and started with Travis Morgan arriving in Skartaris and was canceled after 10 issues. The series left a number of story points unanswered as issue nine finished on a cliff-hanger, while issue #10 had a standalone story set sometime in the future. This relaunch has been largely ignored throughout the DC continuity.
In March 2008, Grell stated that he was working on a proposal to DC for a new Warlord series. It was announced in July 2008 that Warlord would be returning as an ongoing series written by Mike Grell in time for the 35th anniversary. The series started in April 2009, drawn by Joe Prado.
This was also the setting for an episode of Justice League Unlimited, "Chaos At The Center Of The Earth!"
Not to be confused with the 1965 Charlton Heston film The War Lord.
The series contains examples of:
- Absolute Cleavage: Jennifer Morgan
- Action Girl: Tara, Mariah, Shakira
- Action Mom: Tara
- Adventurer Archaeologist: Mariah
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
- Back From the Dead: Deimos, although each time in worse shape than before.
- Barbarian Hero
- Black Best Friend: Machiste
- Born in the Wrong Century: Travis Morgan
- Canon Dis Continuity: The 2006 series. Not to mention the '92 miniseries dismissal of Tara's death in the post-Grell issues.
- Cloning Blues: Deimos creates a clone of Morgan's son Joshua, ages it to adulthood, and sends it to attack Morgan, leading Morgan to believe he has killed his own son.
- Deal with the Devil: Deimos makes a deal with the Evil One to get his body back.
- Dirty Commies: When Mariah ends up back in the USSR, she is branded a traitor and sent to a gulag.
- Emergency Impersonation: Happens accidentally to Shakira in one issue. She happens to be a dead ringer for a kidnapped princess, leading the villains to assume the princess has escaped.
- Endless Daytime: Skartaris is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar and has a similar 'eternal noon', save at the poles at the very edge of the world.
- Evil Overlord: Deimos, amongst many others.
- Evil Sorcerer: Deimos
- Evil Weapon: The cursed axe that possessed Machiste.
- Fake King: Morgan was once imprisoned while an Identical Stranger took his place as warlord of Skartaris.
- Fiery Redhead: Mariah
- Fur Bikini: Tara, Shakira
- Gladiator Games
- Gladiator Revolt
- The Grim Reaper: Travis Morgan was once visited by a gorgeous Death, as Stripperific as any other woman in the series, who invited, "Come to me, my love!" and then took him through a vision of his past. He refused to go with her and recovered from his illness at the end of the issue.
- The Gulag: Mariah is imprisoned in one after she returns to the USSR.
- Hand Cannon: Morgan's .44 AutoMag
- Hollow World: Skartaris, later Retconed to be an alternate dimension instead of underground.
- Hot Amazon: Tara, Mariah, Shakira
- Hot Chick with a Sword: Tara and Mariah. Shakira is a hot chick with a spear.
- Hot Mom: Tara, who balances this with Action Mom.
- Hot Witch: Jennifer Morgan
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Stryker subjects Morgan to one of these in the story "Target" in The Warlord #13.
- Identical Stranger: Both Morgan and Shakira have exact doubles in Skartaris. Morgan's is used in a plot to take over Shamballah. Shakira's leads to an Emergency Impersonation scenario.
- It's also been established that Travis looks enough like Green Arrow that they can easily be mistaken for one another. Fortunately, the two guys don't have many acquaintances in common to get confused.
- In Harm's Way: Travis Morgan
- Inept Mage: Mongo Iron-Hand
- Like a Fish Takes to Water: Both Morgan and Mariah adjust to life in Shartaris remarkably easily.
- Lost World
- Low Culture, High Tech
- Magic From Technology: Some of Deimos' 'magic' was actually sufficently advanced Atlantean technology.
- Man in the Iron Mask: Happens to Morgan when he is imprisoned while an Identical Stranger takes his place.
- Mistaken for Spies: Happens to Mariah when she returns to the USSR after years in Skartaris.
- Mysterious Antarctica: There is an entrance to Skartaris in Antarctica near the South Pole.
- Nubile Savage: Shakira
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Mikola Rostov was a Russian fencing instructor cursed to become a werewolf every full moon. Rostov followed his lover Mariah to the other-dimensional realm of Skartaris, hoping the perpetual sunlight would free him of his curse. He eventually went back in time to the age when the land was called Wizard World. There Jennifer Morgan cast a spell that cured him from his werewolf curse. However he can still use his "wolf spirit" in battle.
- Pirate: Captain Hawk, a.k.a. the Sea Snake.
- Pirate Girl: Captain Bloodhawke
- Planetary Romance
- Rare Guns: Morgan's .44 AutoMag
- Redheaded Hero: Mariah
- Sea Monster: The oceans of Skartaris are brimming with fantastic beasts.
- Serial Prostheses: Deimos
- Sideboob: Mariah.
- Sky Pirate: Captain Bloodhawke and her crew.
- Slave Collar: Shakira wears a spiked collar in both human and cat forms. One storyline implied that she was the product of sorcerous experimentation as all of the sorcerer's other subjects wore identical collars. After defeating the sorcerer, Morgan took the collar off and threw it away. Shakira retrieved it and put it back on.
- Splash Panel: Usually of the the two-page variety when Mike Grell drew it.
- Stripperiffic: Neither females nor males wear very much clothing in Skartaris. (However, the new Warlord seems to have adopted an outfit that covers a lot more than his father's did.)
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: Out of date by decades, Travis Morgan experiences this whenever he returns to Earth.
- Sword and Gun: Morgan
- Trapped in Another World
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works
- Thud and Blunder
- The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Shakira can transform into a black cat at will.
- Or she may be a black cat who can transform into a gorgeous fur-bikini clad amazon at will. It never HAS been explained and it is unlikely it ever will be.
- Walking the Earth: Travis Morgan.
- Warts and All: This was the main theme of the 1992 miniseries, which largely consisted of the Warlord's friends and family telling the viewpoint character "Well, yes, he's a hero, but..." There's a fair amount of it in the current series, as well.
- Wham! Episode: The entirety of issue #12 in the new series. Tinder is revealed to be Travis' long-lost thought-dead son - but not before father and son are unknowingly set against each other. Travis is killed, and Tinder apparently becomes the new Warlord.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Jennifer Morgan
- Wolf Man: Mikola Rostov