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Warlord (DC Comics)

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The Warlord
The Warlord #67 (March 1983), cover art by Mike Grell.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearance1st Issue Special #8 (November 1975)
Created byMike Grell
In-story information
Alter egoTravis Morgan
Place of originSkartaris
Team affiliationsUnited States Air Force
Abilitiesfencer and expert marksman.
The Warlord
Publication information
FormatOngoing series
GenreSword and sorcery, Science fantasy
Publication dateJanuary–February 1976 – September 2010
No. of issues(vol. 1): 133 and 6 Annuals
(vol. 2): 6
(vol. 3): 10
(vol. 4): 16
Main character(s)Warlord
Creative team
Written by
Collected editions
Warlord: The Savage EmpireISBN 1-56389-024-0
Showcase Presents: WarlordISBN 1-4012-2473-3

The Warlord is a sword and sorcery character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by writer-artist Mike Grell, he debuted in 1st Issue Special #8 (November 1975).[1] The titular character, Travis Morgan, obtains the name "Warlord" as he fights for the freedom of the people of Skartaris.



Grell described the Warlord's genesis "as a comic strip called Savage Empire... Savage Empire was born of my admiration for Hal Foster's Prince Valiant and Burne Hogarth's Tarzan, combined with my fascination with archaeology and lost civilizations". Grell described pitching his idea to DC Comics: "I completely revised the concept from Savage Empire into The Warlord. The story of an archeologist who stumbles through a time portal and winds up in Atlantis became the story of US spy pilot whose SR-71 is damaged while on a mission over Russia and plunges through an opening at the North pole into the world at the center on the earth, where creatures of from mythology and Earth's ancient past co-exist amid fantastic cities and leftovers of the civilization of Atlantis... drawing on many sources, including my own US Air Force experiences to lend a note of authenticity to the characters background. Choosing the new setting was easy, as a kid one of my favorite books was Jules Verne's 1864 classic Journey to the Center of the Earth, I [also] drew on...The Smoky God, The Hollow Earth, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar series".[2]

Publication history


The character the Warlord debuted in 1st Issue Special #8 (cover-dated November 1975).[3] The decision to give the Warlord his own series had already been made by the time his 1st Issue Special debut went into production.[4] He starred in The Warlord #1 (February 1976), followed by an eight-month hiatus after issue #2,[4] picking up again with #3 (November 1976).[5] The title lasted 133 issues until Winter 1988.[6] Creator Mike Grell wrote and drew the comic for six years, handing over the art chores after issue #59 (July 1982). Issues #53 through #71 were ghost-written by Grell's then-wife Sharon Wright.[7]

Backup features


A continuation of Jack Kirby's OMAC series, by Jim Starlin, was featured as a backup for several issues (#37–39 and #42–47).[8] Arak, Son of Thunder, created by Roy Thomas and Ernie Colón, first appeared in a special insert in The Warlord #48 (August 1981).[9] Claw the Unconquered appeared in a two–part backup feature in issues #48–49 by Jack C. Harris and Thomas Yeates. Dragonsword was a backup feature by Paul Levitz and Yeates which appeared in #51–54 (November 1981–February 1982).[10] Arion, a sword and sorcery title by writer Paul Kupperberg and artist Jan Duursema, began as a six–page backup feature in The Warlord #55 (March 1982). Another backup feature was The Barren Earth by writer Gary Cohn and artist Ron Randall, which was concluded in a four–issue limited series.[11] A Bonus Book in issue #131 (September 1988) featured artist Rob Liefeld's first work for DC.[12][13]

Volume 2


A six-issue miniseries ran cover-dated January to June 1992. It was written by Mike Grell and penciled by Dameon Willich, with inks by Rick Hoberg (#1-3) and Tim Burgard (#4-6).

Volume 3


DC attempted to update The Warlord in 2006 with Bruce Jones writing and Bart Sears providing the art. This series restarted the concept, beginning with Travis Morgan arriving in Skartaris. The series left a number of story points unanswered as issue #9 finished on a cliffhanger, while the tenth and final issue had a standalone story set sometime in the future.

Volume 4


The Warlord returned in an ongoing series written by Mike Grell in time for the original series' 35th anniversary.[14] The series started in April 2009,[15] featuring art by Joe Prado and Chad Hardin. It ran for 16 issues.

Fictional character biography


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 War veteran SR-71 pilot Travis Morgan passed through a hole in the Earth's crust while flying over the north pole in 1969[16] 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, 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,[17] a Russian scientist named Mariah[17] and his magic-wielding daughter Jennifer Morgan. In one story arc, Morgan even becomes the U.S. President in the far future.[18]

Although The Warlord has a superficial resemblance to the DC character Oliver Queen,[19] he is in reality based more upon his creator Mike Grell who was a former member of the Air Force.[20] Grell is caricatured in The Warlord's first appearance, 1st Issue Special #8 and is clearly sporting The Warlord's signature shaggy goatee.[21] Grell and editor Jack C. Harris made a metafictional appearance in the story "Gambit" in The Warlord #35 (July 1980).[22]

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 Morgan. 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.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25]

Other versions


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint storyline, 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.[26] 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. 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.[27]

In other media




The Warlord appears in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Chaos at the Earth's Core", voiced by Paul Guilfoyle.[28]



An illusionary version of Warlord appears in Justice League: Warworld, voiced by Teddy Sears.[29]


  • In 1982, Warlord received a 5.5" action figure in the Remco line "Lost World of The Warlord", which also included action figures of Arak, Deimos, Machiste, Mikola, and Hercules (despite the latter character not being related to the Warlord series).
  • In 2007, Warlord received an action figure in Series 4 of DC Direct's "First Appearance" figures.
  • In 2010, the Justice League Unlimited incarnation of Warlord received an action figure in the DC Universe: Justice League Unlimited Fan Collection.[30]

The Warlord issue #89 (Jan. 1985) appears on a magazine rack in a convenience store in a deleted scene from The Goonies DVD.[31]

Collected editions

  • DC Comics reprinted several early stories from The Warlord in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #10 (June 1981). This digest size collection included a new wraparound painted cover by Mike Grell and an introduction.[32]
  • DC’s First Issue Specials collects 1st Issue Special #8, 272 pages, March 2020, ISBN 978-1779501776
  • The Warlord: The Savage Empire (1991) - collects 1st Issue Special #8 and The Warlord #1–10 and 12, November 1991, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1563890246
  • Showcase Presents: The Warlord (2009) - collects 1st Issue Special #8 and The Warlord #1–28, September 2009, 528 pages, ISBN 978-1401224738
  • DC Through the 80s: The End of Eras collects The Warlord #42, 520 pages, December 2020, ISBN 978-1779500878
  • DC Through the 80s: The Experiments collects The Warlord #48 and 55, 504 pages, May 2021, ISBN 978-1779507099
  • Warlord: The Saga - collects The Warlord vol. 4 #1–6, March 2010, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1401226510
  • Countdown Special: OMAC #1 (2008) - collects OMAC backup stories from The Warlord #37–39 as well as OMAC #1 and DC Comics Presents #61.


  1. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Korte, Steve; Manning, Matt; Wiacek, Win; Wilson, Sven (2016). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. DK Publishing. p. 324. ISBN 978-1-4654-5357-0.
  2. ^ Grell, Mike (2011). Eury, Micheal (ed.). "Off My Chest: From Savage Empire to the Warlord". Back Issue!. No. 46. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 19.
  3. ^ McAvennie, Michael (2010). "1970s". In Dolan, Hannah (ed.). DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: 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.
  4. ^ a b Abramowitz, Jack (April 2014). "1st Issue Special: It Was No Showcase (But It Was Never Meant To Be)". Back Issue! (#71). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 44.
  5. ^ Cronin, Brian (June 8, 2006). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #54!". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014.
  6. ^ Markstein, Don (2008). "The Warlord". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on May 27, 2024. The Warlord lasted a surprisingly long time. But it finally wound down after 133 issues, the last dated Winter 1988–89.
  7. ^ "The Warlord · Mike Grell". www.mikegrell.com. Retrieved 2021-10-17.
  8. ^ Wells, John (October 24, 1997), "'Lost' DC: The DC Implosion", Comics Buyer's Guide, no. #1249, Iola, Wisconsin, pp. 132–133, The OMAC story from Kamandi #60 ended up in Warlord #37 (September 1980). The next two installments of the story, which presumably had been prepared in 1978 by Jim Starlin, appeared in Warlord #38–39.
  9. ^ Catron, Michael (June 1981). "Thomas's Indian/Viking to Roam Medieval Europe". Amazing Heroes (#1). Stamford, Connecticut: Fantagraphics Books: 29–30. Arak, Son of Thunder, described as an 'Indian/Viking', makes his debut in a preview insert in Warlord #48, on sale in May.
  10. ^ Catron, Michael (July 1981). "Dragon Sword". Amazing Heroes (#2). Fantagraphics Books: 18. Dragon Sword, a new sword-and sorcery series created and scripted by Paul Levitz and pencilled and inked by Tom Yeates will debut as the back feature in Warlord #51, on sale in August [1981].
  11. ^ Conqueror of the Barren Earth at the Grand Comics Database
  12. ^ Greenberger, Robert (April 2014). "New Talent and Bonus Babies". Back Issue! (#71). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 71–73.
  13. ^ "The Warlord #131". Grand Comics Database.
  14. ^ Arrant, Chris (July 27, 2008). "SDCC '08 - Mike Grell: The Return of Warlord". Newsarama. Archived from the original on July 27, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  15. ^ 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".
  16. ^ Grell, Mike (w), Hardin, Chad; Grell, Mike (p), Hardin, Chad; Grell, Mike (i). "Next..." The Warlord, vol. 4, no. 10 (March 2010).
  17. ^ a b Fleisher, Michael (w), Randall, Ron (p), Randall, Ron (i). "The Citadel of Fear" The Warlord, no. 115 (March 1987).
  18. ^ Burkett, Cary (w), Jurgens, Dan (p), Adkins, Dan (i). "Hail To the Chief" The Warlord, no. 84 (August 1984).
  19. ^ Grell, Mike (w), Jurgens, Dan (p), Giordano, Dick; McLaughlin, Frank (i). "Siege" Green Arrow, vol. 2, no. 28 (January 1990).
  20. ^ Greenberger, Robert (1983). "From Skartaris to Sable: A Chat with Storyteller Mike Grell". Comics Scene (#9). Comics World Corp. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013.
  21. ^ Grell, Mike (w), Grell, Mike (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "Gambit" The Warlord, no. 35 (July 1980).
  22. ^ Stroud, Bryan D. (2010). "Jack C. Harris Interview (Pt. 2)". TheSilverLantern.com. Archived from the original on September 1, 2012. Retrieved March 20, 2011. The Warlord goes into a sort of parallel world where it's like a Dungeons and Dragons game and at the end of the story we pull back and the two guys playing Dungeons and Dragons are me and Grell. Which I thought was great and as we're playing the game this other guy comes in to scold us for not doing our work and it's Joe Orlando.
  23. ^ Grell, Mike (w), Prado, Joe (p), Wong, Walden (i). The Warlord, vol. 4, no. 1 (June 2009).
  24. ^ Grell, Mike (w), Grell, Mike (p), Grell, Mike (i). "Sunset" The Warlord, vol. 4, no. 12 (May 2010).
  25. ^ Grell, Mike (w), Hardin, Chad (p), Hardin, Chad (i). "Son Rise" The Warlord, vol. 4, no. 13 (June 2010).
  26. ^ Palmiotti, Jimmy (w), Bennett, Joe (p), Dell, John (i). "Separation Anxiety" Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager, no. 1 (August 2011).
  27. ^ Palmiotti, Jimmy (w), Bennett, Joe (p), Shasteen, Tony (i). "Red Tide" Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager, no. 2 (September 2011).
  28. ^ dos Santos, Joaquim (director); Wayne, Matt (writer) (September 24, 2005). "Chaos at the Earth's Core". Justice League Unlimited. Season 3. Episode 3. Cartoon Network.
  29. ^ "SDCC 2023: Justice League Warworld Creative Team On Reinventing Iconic Characters & Getting R-Rated". ScreenRant. 2023-07-25. Retrieved 2023-07-27.
  30. ^ "Warlord action figure". ToyArk.com. n.d. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  31. ^ Screen capture, The Goonies DVD.
  32. ^ "DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #10". Grand Comics Database.