Skartaris map from Warlord Annual #4 (1985),
artist Pat Broderick
|First appearance||1st Issue Special #8 (November 1975)|
|Created by||Mike Grell|
|In story information|
Skartaris is a fictional Hollow Earth fantasy setting created by Mike Grell for the sword and sorcery comic book Warlord, published by DC Comics. Skartaris debuted in 1st Issue Special #8 (November 1975), where the character Travis Morgan, a US Air Force pilot, discovers a passage into this world through the Earth's North Pole. Subsequent to that first issue, the Warlord series tells of Morgan's adventures in Skartaris.
According to Mike Grell, creator of Skartaris and Warlord, "the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth."
While Grell never drew a map of Skartaris during his tenure on the book, one was created towards the end of the original volume's run, and the illustration appeared in Warlord Annual #4 (1985). In an interview from Comic Scene in 1983, he says: "I did things like moving my character around the countryside; I never drew a map so I could move him from one side of Skartaris to the other just for the sake of the story." In a later interview with Comic Book Resources Grell said, "Anything that can happen in fantasy happens in the lore and it’s one of the reasons I always refused to draw a map of Skartaris. Year after year after year went by, and I was always hounded by the editors, 'When are you going to have a map?' The reason I refused was because once you draw a map, you establish boundaries. And why would you want to put boundaries on your imagination?"
Skartaris is essentially a translation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar into the graphic medium, with elements of Jules Verne and half a dozen other fictional Hollow Earth settings, and the admixture of magic and the Atlantis myth. In Grell's concept, as in Burroughs', the Earth is a hollow shell with Skartaris as the internal surface of that shell. Skartaris is accessible to the surface world via a polar opening allowing passage between the inner and outer worlds. There are also various tunnels connecting the interior world with the surface. Skartaris is lit by a miniature sun suspended at the center of the hollow sphere, so it is perpetually overhead wherever one is in Skartaris. The miniature sun never changes in brightness, and never sets; so with no night or seasonal progression, the natives have little concept of time. There is however, a "moon" that orbits the sun in a random way, resulting in certain areas of Skartaris being covered in darkness from time to time. The events of the series suggest that time is elastic, passing at different rates in different areas of Skartaris and varying even in single locales.
Skartaris is populated by primitive people of various levels of culture ranging from the primitive to medieval, with the most advanced inhabiting city state monarchies such as Shamballah (based on the mythical Tibetan realm of Shambhala), the home of Morgan's principal love interest Tara. The practice of magic is well developed, numerous sorcerers being known, usually antagonistic to each other and to Morgan; the most prominent is Deimos, his main antagonist. Remnants of the super-scientific technology of Atlantis can also be found. Skartaris is overrun by a variety of prehistoric creatures from all geological eras, notably dinosaurs.
Most early issues of the comic characterize the setting with the following tag phrase: "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."
Skartaris was eventually retconned into being located in another dimension instead of physically inside the Earth. Thousands of years ago, before it was colonized by humans, this dimension was known as "Wizard World" because of the number of magical beings that lived in it.
Atlantean survivors of the city of Challa-Bel-Nalla, then ruled by Lord Daamon (an ancestor of Deimos), formed an alliance with an alien race they called the Red-Moon Gods. These aliens provided the Atlanteans with advanced technology that Travis Morgan would later discover in New Atlantis. New Atlantis first appears in Warlord Annual #2. Lord Norrad the Younger, one of the Atlantean Knights of the Sea Eagle left Atlantis with a small group of followers and travelled to Skartaris. Yet another group led by the Atlantean sorcerer Ar-Diamphos escaped the sinking of Atlantis and found New Atlantis, Ar-Diamphos had Norrad killed and made himself ruler. He transformed them into beast men known as Blood Brothers using Red-Moon God technology.
Books of Magic
Points of Interest
- Asravar -
- Ba'al Forest - This is where Travis Morgan first crashed his plane when he first arrived in Skartaris. This was where Travis Morgan first met his future wife Tara. There was also a race of Lizardmen living in the Ba'al Forest that worshipped Travis' plane and he had to fight them in order to get to his travel gear. The Ba'al Forest is also where the Children of Ba'al live.
- Bakwele - A teeming port where Warlord, Machiste, and Mariah occasionally stop at during their travels.
- Bal Shazar - A sprawling seaport city that is known for its slave auctions. When Warlord was captured, this city was where Warlord first met Machiste.
- Balgar Bay -
- Bandakhar -
- Bantham -
- Baroth Mountains -
- Bay of Tears - It is located in the Sea of Grel. Pirates and Slave Traders tend to come into conflict with each other here.
- Beast Tower -
- Bloodrock Mountains -
- Captain Hawk's Stronghold -
- Caves of the Cyclops -
- Citadel of Timgad - It was formerly the great city of the Sorcerer Kings. The Citadel of Timgad is now overrun by hobgoblins and filled with traps. It is the only one that has wells in the Desert of Doom which attracts travelers.
- City of the Dead -
- Desert of Doom -
- Desert of Sorrows -
- Doomgate Temple -
- Dragon Sea -
- Drakmeer -
- Forest of Ebonar -
- Great Fire Mountain -
- Groniko -
- Haunted Mountains -
- Isle of Titans - An island that is home to the Skartarian Titans led by Queen Amarant. Warlord has his first encounter with Shakira here.
- Kaambuka -
- Kalibahs -
- Kallistan -
- Kasamaga Island -
- Kiro - This is the city where Machiste is the king of. It has a diverse population and a Thieves' Market. Warlord and Mariah's first costumes were fashioned here.
- Lake of Dreams -
- Mountains of the Sun -
- North Sea -
- Sea of Grel - A sea that borders Skartaris to the west. It contains ports such as Bal Shazar, Kiro, Bakwele and Kallistan. It also contains the Bay of Tears, Balgar Bay, and Captain Hawk's Stronghold. Warlord met Ligia (a beautiful woman of the sea) who once saved Warlord's life when he was defending her.
- Shaban D'aba -
- Shadow Forest -
- Shamballah - A great golden city that is filled with Atlantean technology. It is also the home of Warlord's wife Tara and their son Joshua is Shamballah's rightful king. During Warlord's first visit, Shamballah's computers went crazy and nearly killed everyone that lived there.
- Shebal Gladiator Arena - An area next to the Bay of Tears where men are trained to fight each other. Warlord ended up fighting Machiste in a death match. Rather than kill Machiste, Warlord managed to kill Shebal himself and organize a gladiator army of his own.
- Skyra - An airborne city that was maintained by a cyborg named Traan. Warlord, Machiste, and Mariah were brought there by Pteranodons where they were forced to kill the caretaker who had a taste for flesh. With Traan dead, the city fell to the ground and was destroyed.
- Swamplands - The Swamplands of Skartaris are filled with poisonous snakes and semi-aquatic dinosaurs. This was where Warlord was hunted by a man named Stryker.
- Temple Grimfang -
- Temple of the Sun -
- Terminator - A land of perpetual darkness where Skartaris meets Earth. Deimos makes his castle here when the Mask of Life makes him vulnerable to light.
- Thera - The first Skartarian city that Warlord first visited where he first met Deimos who was a high priest here. Although Thera was civilized, they were looked down by the other cultures who use them for human sacrifice. The city was later sacked by Warlord's army and Deimos was overthrown.
- Tower of Fear - A gigantic spire filled with demons who appear and disappear at random to kill anyone who enters the tower. Warlord and Machiste were forced to enter the Tower of Fear in order to retrieve the Mask of Life which they did not know would be used to resurrect Deimos.
- Umber -
- Valley of the Lion -
- Valley of the Snowbeast - An area in Skartaris that is always cloudy and constantly covered in snow. Warlord met a kindly Yeti-like creature here. When Machiste accidentally killed it, it was revealed that the creature was actually a beautiful winged creature that was trapped in the creature's body.
In other media
- Although not referred to by name, a world within the center of the earth that was very similar to Skartaris is shown in the Super Friends episode "Battle at the Earth's Core". There, prehistoric animals live and there are even the ruins of an ancient Atlantean city.
- Skartaris has appeared in Justice League Unlimited episode "Chaos at the Earth's Core". Green Lantern, Supergirl, Stargirl, and S.T.R.I.P.E. were summoned by Warlord's daughter Jennifer against Deimos. Apparently, Metallo and Silver Banshee had provided his forces with energy weapons in exchange for capturing the Great Stone (which is actually a large chunk of kryptonite). With the League's help, they defeated Deimos' forces, bringing peace to Skartaris. Afterwards, Green Lantern closed the portal to that world so no one can capture the Great Stone.