Friday, May 27, 2011

Making a Splash: Mike Grell's Warlord Part One

Ol' Groove's love for Mike Grell's Warlord is no secret here in Groove City. Grell, whether we realized it or not at the time, was quietly creating a revolution with this mag, setting the stage for the return of the super-star writer/artist in the 1980s. Not only was he in total creative control (like Jim Starlin on Warlock--wow--two "War's" against mediocrity!), but he was changing how comicbook stories were being told. He cut back on the flowery prose captions and extraneous dialogue allowing the art to carry much of the story. He experimented with the format, giving us breathtaking double-page splashes and full page panels that would make Jack Kirby proud. (Unlike many later artists, Grell knew how to use these for effect, to move the story along, rather than tossing in random pin-ups on a whim.) The tautness of the script and the experimentation with panel layouts had to have hit a young Frank Miller where he lived, 'cause he took the same innovations and applied them to his Daredevil work. A lot of fans have forgotten what a trailblazer Grell was, well, baby, see if these splashes from Warlord issues 1-7 (October 1976-March 1977) don't jog your memory and excite your eyeballs!


  1. Warlord was pretty much all there was to warm a DC fanboy's heart between the implosion in '78 and the start of New Teen Titans in '80.
    Those two page spreads...
    Some day they'll be reprinted in a proper format.

  2. Some other great DC series I can recommend from that 1977-1980 period at DC are:
    Marshall Rogers' work in DETECTIVE 466-468, 471-476, 478-479, 481, and DC SPECIAL SERIES 15.
    Englehar/Rogers' MISTER MIRACLE 19-22, and Golden's art in 23-25.
    Michael Golden's work in BATMAN FAMILY 15-20, BATMAN 295, and DETECTIVE 482. Plus a few other Golden and Rogers stories in HOUSE OF MYSTERY, HOUSE OF SECRETS, GHOSTS, and MYSTERY IN SPACE.
    Buckler's art on several titles, particularly WORLD'S FINEST. With "Shazam" backup stories by Don Newton. (I wasn't as wild about the stories in RETURN OF THE NEW GODS, but Newton's art there is still nice.
    TIME-WARP 1-5, with suitable-for-framing covers by Michael Kaluta. Likewise Kaluta's covers on HOUSE OF MYSTERY and a few other mystery titles, such as SECRETS OF SINISTER HOUSE and UNEXPECTED.
    JONAH HEX by Fleisher, Dezuniga, and other artists.
    METAL MEN 45-49 by Simonson. Especially that first issue.
    Plus some DC COMICS PRESENTS issues by Starlin (having just left Marvel) as Well as a few scattered Starlin SUPERBOY/LEGION issues. Plus some other LEGION stories by Nasser, Jim Sherman, Jim Janes and others.
    Plus JLA issues from 184-200, where Gerry Conway was doing some good writing, along with a fresh to DC George Perez doing the art on those issues.

    Plus Aparo's steady run through that period on BRAVE AND THE BOLD.
    Granted, not DC's most creative period, but still some good stuff there.



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