The Warlord (comics)

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For British comic, see Warlord (DC Thomson). For Chinese comic, see Warlord (manhua).
The Warlord
Cover of The Warlord (vol. 1) #67, Art by Mike Grell
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance 1st Issue Special #8,
(November 1975)
Created by Mike Grell (writer & artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Travis Morgan
Place of origin Skartaris
Team affiliations United States Air Force
Abilities fencer and expert marksman.
The Warlord
Series publication information
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre Sword and sorcery
Publication date (vol. 1)
Jan./Feb. 1976 – Winter 1988
(vol. 2)
Apr. 2006 – Jan. 2007
(vol. 3)
June. 2009 – Sept. 2010
Number of issues (vol. 1): 133
(vol. 2): 10
(vol. 3): 16
Main character(s) Warlord
Creative team
Writer(s) (vol. 1)
Mike Grell, Cary Burkett, Michael Fleisher
(vol. 2)
Bruce Jones
(vol. 3)
Mike Grell
Artist(s) (vol. 1)
Mike Grell
(vol. 2)
Bart Sears
(vol. 3)
Joe Prado and Chad Hardin
Collected editions
Warlord: The Savage Empire ISBN 1-56389-024-0
Showcase Presents: Warlord ISBN 1-4012-2473-3

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.[1] The comic's main character, Travis Morgan, obtains the name of "The Warlord" as he fights for the freedom of the people of Skartaris.

Publication history[edit]

Vol. 1[edit]

DC debuted The Warlord title with the Jan./Feb. 1976 issue, but it went on an eight-month hiatus following issue #2, picking up again in Oct./Nov. 1976. The title lasted 133 issues until Winter 1988. Creator Mike Grell wrote and drew the comic for six years, handing over the art chores after issue #59 (July 1982); he continued writing the comic through issue #71 (July 1983).[2]

Arion, another DC Comics sword & sorcery title, began as a six-page backup feature in The Warlord. Another backup feature was The Barren Earth which was concluded in a four-issue limited series after a lengthy run in The Warlord. A continuation of Jack Kirby's OMAC series, by Jim Starlin, was featured as a backup for several issues (#37-39 and 42-47) as well. Arak, Son of Thunder, created by Roy Thomas and Ernie Colón, first appeared in a special insert in The Warlord #48 (August 1981).[3] A Bonus Book in issue #131 (September 1988) featured artist Rob Liefeld's first work for DC.[4]

Vol. 2[edit]

A six issue limited series ran from January to June 1992. It was written by Mike Grell and pencilled by Dameon Willich with inks by Rick Hoberg (#1-3) and Tim Burgard (#4-6).

Vol. 3[edit]

DC attempted an unsuccessful update of The Warlord in 2006 with Bruce Jones writing and Bart Sears providing the art. This series restarted the concept, and started with Travis Morgan arriving in Skartaris. The series left a number of story points unanswered as issue #9 finished on a cliffhanger, while issue #10 had a standalone story set sometime in the future. This series was canceled after ten issues due to low sales, and has been largely ignored throughout DC continuity.

Vol. 4[edit]

DC announced in July 2008 that The Warlord would return in an ongoing series written by Mike Grell in time for the original series' 35th anniversary.[5] The series started in April 2009,[6] featuring art by Joe Prado and Chad Hardin. The series ran for 16 issues.

Fictional character biography[edit]

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.

1st Issue Special #8

Vietnam veteran SR-71 pilot Travis Morgan passed through a hole in the Earth's crust while flying over the north pole in 1969[7] and landed in the underground world of Skartaris, a place strongly reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Pellucidar. There Travis, wielding his .44 AutoMag pistol and joined by Shamballah's Princess (later Queen) Tara, a scantily dressed savage, 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,[8] a Russian scientist named Mariah[8] and his magic-wielding daughter Jennifer Morgan. In one story arc[9] Morgan even becomes the U.S. President in the far future.

Although The Warlord has a superficial resemblance to Oliver Queen,[10] he is in reality based more upon his creator Mike Grell who was a former member of the Air Force.[citation needed] Grell is caricatured in The Warlord's first appearance, 1st Issue Special #8 and is clearly sporting The Warlord's signature shaggy goatee.[11]

Volume 4 of the series begins with an explorer finding perfectly preserved dinosaur remains in the Himalayas. She takes the head of one to a doctor and an expedition is set up to retrieve more samples. The team is spotted by the Chinese government and flee into the caves after losing several members. They discover a portal and after walking through find themselves in Skartaris where they encounter Travis Morga. Travis Morgan is attacked by a giant bird and kills it with the help of Shakira. Refugees enter Shamballah and Morgan discovers that a new god has taken over the Shadow Kingdom and has overrun the Kingdom of Kiro, Machiste's homeland. One of the refugees is injured and he surprisingly carries a gunshot wound.[12]

The machinations of Deimos' return pit Travis Morgan against Tinder. Just as Morgan realizes that Tinder is in fact his son Joshua, he becomes distracted and Tinder mortally wounds him. Travis Morgan's final words were "I thought I'd have more time." Morgan is cremated and Tinder becomes the new Warlord.[13]

Joshua Morgan becomes the new Warlord. His costume is reminiscent of Travis Morgan's black outfit when he first arrived in Skartaris. Instead of carrying a sword and a gun as Travis did, Tinder carries a sword, a dagger, a quiver of arrows and a bow.[14]

Other versions[edit]


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, The Warlord is the pirate of a fleet when he was attacked by pirate Deathstroke in battle stealing their loot. During the battle, The Warlord's crew was killed while he escaped using the hovercraft.[15] Later, The Warlord plans to attack Deathstroke and retrieve Jenny Blitz who has been in stasis since she was stolen from him. The Warlord ambushed Deathstroke and his fleet and demanded that they surrender. But in answer Deathstroke shot The Warlord's right eye using a scoped sniper rifle. He had been aiming for his mouth. Deathstroke fired at The Warlord's ship again, and it unexpectedly blew up. Each ship in Warlord's fleet subsequently exploded. The ships were destroyed by Jenny Blitz, now released from her stasis tube due to an earlier skirmish between Ocean Master and Icicle, one of Deathstroke's crewmen. Jenny appears to be able to project explosive force from her hands.[16]

In other media[edit]



  • In 1982, several of the characters from The Warlord became action figures in a line called "Lost World of The Warlord" from Remco. Travis Morgan was one of the figures along with Deimos, Machiste, Mikola Rostov, Arak, and Hercules.
  • In April 2007, The Warlord became an action figure (based on the modern update) in Series 4 of DC Direct's "First Appearance" figures.
  • In 2010, The Warlord became an action figure (based on the animated version) in the Justice League Unlimited toyline.[17]

Popular culture[edit]

  • The Warlord issue #89 appears on a magazine rack in a convenience store in a deleted scene from the Goonies DVD.[18]

Collected editions[edit]

In 1981, DC Comics published a colored trade paperback of reprinted early stories from The Warlord, which included a new wraparound painted cover by Mike Grell (who also wrote an introduction for the book). This was DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #10.

  • Warlord: The Savage Empire (1991) - collects First Issue Special #8 and Warlord (1st Series) #1-10 and 12. (240 pages) (ISBN 1-56389-024-0)
  • Showcase Presents: Warlord (2009) - collects First Issue Special #8 and Warlord (1st Series) #1-28. (528 pages) (ISBN 1-4012-2473-3)
  • Warlord: The Saga - Collects Warlord (vol.3) #1-6
  • Countdown Special: OMAC #1 (2008) - collects OMAC backup stories from Warlord #37-39, as well as OMAC #1; and DC Comics Presents #61.


  1. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Writer/artist Mike Grell elevated the sword-and-sorcery genre to new heights with the Warlord. 
  2. ^ However, the last two years of Grell's scripts were ghost-written by his then-wife, Sharon (Wright) Grell, as revealed in the letter column of a later issue.
  3. ^ "Arak, Son of Thunder, described as an 'Indian/Viking,' makes his debut in a preview insert in The Warlord #48, on sale in May." as noted in "Thomas's Indian/Viking to Roam Medieval Europe" Catron, Michael Amazing Heroes #1 June 1981 pp. 29-30
  4. ^ The Warlord #131 at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Arrant, Chris (2008-07-27). "SDCC '08 - Mike Grell: The Return of Warlord". Newsarama. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  6. ^ Cowsill, Alan "2000s" in Dolan, p. 338 "Mike Grell was back at the helm for the return of DC's greatest sword-and-sorcery hero - Travis Morgan, the Warlord."
  7. ^ The Warlord (vol. 4) #10 (March 2010).
  8. ^ a b Fleisher, Michael (w). "The Citadel of Fear" Warlord 115: 5/2 (March, 1987), DC Comics
  9. ^ Burket, Cary, writer. "Hail to the Chief," The Warlord #84 (Aug. 1984).
  10. ^ Green Arrow (vol. 1) #28
  11. ^ The Warlord (vol. 1) #35 (July 1980).
  12. ^ The Warlord (vol. 4) #1 (June 2009)
  13. ^ The Warlord (vol. 4) #12
  14. ^ The Warlord (vol. 4) #13
  15. ^ Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager#1 (June 2011)
  16. ^ Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #2 (July 2011)
  17. ^ Warlord action figure, Accessed Feb. 16, 2012.
  18. ^ Screen capture, The Goonies DVD.

External links[edit]