By Mike Grell (writer), Chad Hardin (artist), Mike Grell (colorist)
The Story: Morgan, Machiste and Shakira are traveling through the shadowlands and come across people who tell them of a heroic man who sacrificed himself for these strangers. The people tell Morgan that they seek the Warlord, who will protect them. This greatly disturbs Morgan. Meanwhile, Alysha Grant is still running through the Skartarisian forest, evading predators and runs into that same heroic man, Tinder. Morgan tries to close in on the strangers who have come from the outside world, but few plans survive contact with the enemy.
What’s Good: The story was fast-paced and the cover was great.
What’s Not So Good: The setting just didn’t work. It was too simplistic and cliché. Skartaris had little depth and its inhabitants could have been pulled out of any low-budget barbarian movie. The peasants display salt-of-the-earth nobility, and the slavers are plain evil, just short of twirling their moustaches and cackling madly. Everything looked just too clean and too beautiful for a primitive world. The peasants had flawless skin with great teeth and no dirt anywhere. It reminded me of what they used to say about the Tarzan movies in the 1950s: “He swung around in the trees with a $50 haircut.”
Moreover, the execution of the story didn’t do much better in words or pictures. If you take a savage, and have him say “everyone knows he stands for freedom and justice” or “everyone is entitled to something they can believe in,” you just get a mess. The art didn’t help much either, as the characters’ poses were awkward and unfortunately, unnatural; as if the characters were waiting around for the artist to finish drawing them before they moved on to whatever it is they really do when their pictures aren’t being taken.
Conclusion: In the end, I just didn’t believe this story. If you’re a Warlord fan, go ahead and pick it up. If you’re like me, where you haven’t felt invested in Warlord, this issue won’t be the one to change your mind.