Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review- SHOWCASE PRESENTS WARLORD VOL. 1

SHOWCASE PRESENTS WARLORD VOL. 1 (DC, 2009; Softcover)
Collects 1st Issue Special No. 1 and The Warlord Nos. 1-28 (cover dates November, 1975- December, 1979).
Writer and Artist: Mike Grell
Inker: Vince Colletta
I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I only discovered Mike Grell over the last couple of years in those DC Bronze Age phone books like House of Secrets, etc. I was so blown away by Grell's artwork that I did a search online to see what else he had done. Warlord was at the top of the list, and for good reason.
The gist- Travis Morgan is a pilot whose plane passes through a hole in the Earth's crust, ending up in Skartaris, a “world” beneath the Earth's crust where the sun always shines. Skartaris is actually Atlantis, which sank into the ocean ages ago. It's a mix of high-tech and primitive civilizations, with a healthy assortment of dinosaurs and monsters as well. Magic and science exist side by side, and as Travis goes along he becomes known as The Warlord. This is sword and sorcery, science fiction high adventure at its finest.
Mike Grell's writing and artwork are great. I am impressed at the amount of violence that he was able to get by the Comics Code Authority back then, implied or otherwise. This was both timely and way ahead of it's time compared to what was on the stands in the late '70s. He makes great use of double page spreads, and uses what could be the first vertical page layouts, definitely the earliest ones that I've seen. Perhaps someone could point out if there were earlier ones. I am not a comics historian, merely a student of the artform. 
I like how Grell has a push and pull approach to his writing. He'll have dense, text packed captions for pages, and then launch into dialogue and caption free splash pages and double page spreads during action sequences. This is highly effective and was fairly innovative during the Bronze Age. It's definitely a precursor to the approach used in modern day comic books.
I guess that there's a color collection of some of the early issues out there, but it's long out of print and not cheap. I'd love to see DC do Archives or another full color, preferably hardcover, collection of this material. For the time being, this 528 page black and white phone book will have to suffice. I wish that there were more volumes in this line. There are plenty more issues for DC to collect.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5. 
The OCD zone- These phone books are great for what they are: Inexpensive, in depth primers on characters. They are printed on cheap pulp paper, which is fine at the price point.
Linework restoration rating: 5 out of 5.
Color restoration rating: Not applicable. It's a black and white reprint.
Paper rating: 3 out of 5.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5.
Cardstock cover rating: 5 out of 5.

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