Friday, April 12, 2019

This isn't the last issue, but kind of.

Ooh, let's pretend I planned this: ten years ago tomorrow, I blogged about Warlord #10, the last issue of the 2006 reboot, and one of the worst comics I've ever read. Well, except for the art: the Phil Winslade art is so pretty, it makes you feel how much it was wasted, since the story was soooo bad. And it was a comic that tossed out the entire plot of the series just for a standalone adventure. But was that necessarily a bad thing? Today we've got the prior, penultimate issue of the series; which was all the wrap-up you were going to get: the Warlord #9, written by Bruce Jones, art by Bart Sears.

...and, flipping through this issue, I realize I had dropped the book by this point: I think I made it to #4. Rather than just a straight relaunch or revamp, Jones had tried to put a new spin on things, and there were a couple points I liked. Travis Morgan was still lost in Skartaris, but this time his fiancé Alexa and best friend Terry come after him; and Terry had an ulterior motive: trying to win Alexa for himself, or at least sleep with her. Dude seemed sketchy as hell. Also sketchy as hell--nice segue there--was Bart Sears new art direction for this series. It was less polished than his old Justice League Europe work, or than any Warlord book to date. I still wonder if it might not have gelled better with an inker.

But there was another new element that also didn't seem to catch on, and seemed a large departure from the original Mike Grell version: by this point in the series, "Travis" is gone, having been replaced by the god Cassus! The change previously seemed to be somehow affected by Alexa and Terry turning their equipment on and off, but here Cassus is in charge and seemingly beyond mortal concerns. Furious at Princess Tara's betrayal and the death of peasant girl Regine, Cassus forces them to kiss and make up, or at least switch places: Regine is resurrected and upgraded to queen, while Tara...doesn't get a line the rest of the issue, but seemingly lives to be Regine's "scullery maid." Telling Regine that Travis "has already left you," Cassus then restores the city of Shamballah to its former glory, and leaves one of his now no-longer-flying horses for her. He then sets out on a new quest: " find which uncaring god allowed this tragedy to unfold...and with my sword, kill him!"

Shortly thereafter, Alexa and Terry arrive in Shamballah, with their "guide," Brovis. He had been a villain earlier in the series, and while he claims "Sir Travis and I are the best of comrades!" Alexa doesn't buy it. Brovis advises Terry to land in the courtyard for maximum shock and awe, in order to convince the rubes they were gods, but Regine does not seem overly impressed. (In fact, Cassus did warn of a stranger coming to claim the throne, probably Brovis, but Regine was pretty dead when he made that speech...) Travis had mentioned Alexa to Regine, so she knows the score, and tells her Travis was gone.

Meanwhile, Cassus meets busty water goddess Lorelei, from Mt. Olyn to guide him on his quest. She then sends him along to the volcano Valken, gateway to the underworld, possible doorway to the titans, and probable trap. But although there's a "To Be Continued" there and one issue left, this plotline would never be resolved. This version of Warlord was a failure, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the only book to fail to launch from that time. And it did get a pretty good DC Direct Warlord figure made, which isn't a terrible legacy.


SallyP said...

Oh god...the art makes me want to cry. Not to mention the plot.

Mr. Morbid's House Of Fun said...

Jesus that's some bad art. I know Bart Sears is a true professional and all, and maybe he was just trying to be more experimental in this terms of his drawing style, but this looks to me like he was providing the bare minimum effort in work. He's better than this.

And as decent a writer as Bruce Jones is, not having Travis Morgan as the lead role, whether or not that was his decision or not, was the wrong move here. No wonder it failed.