Monday, November 16, 2009

Warriors and Wizards Week! If You Blinked You Missed: Wulf the Barbarian

Call it sword and sorcery, fantasy, epic fantasy, blood and thunder, or whatever else ya wanna call it, but Ol' Groove digs it the most. To celebrate all that is far-out and fantastic about cats like Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, Red Sonja, Warlord, John Carter, Iron Jaw, Dagar, Starfire, Blackmark, Beowulf, Sinbad, Claw the Unconquered, Thongor, Gullivar Jones, Nightmaster, et al, I hereby proclaim this week to be...

Warriors and Wizards Week!

...and to start things off, we're gonna take a look at Atlas/Seaboard's superior sword-slinger, Wulf the Barbarian. Created by Larry Hama, Steve Skeates, and Mary Skrenes, written, and drawn by Hama (who would later become the driving force behind Marvel's G.I. Joe comics) and inked by Klaus Janson, Wulf's mag was one of the hippest, slickest, and most stylish mags in the Atlas/Seaboard line. The premise, a young deposed prince trained to use the sword to gain revenge on the troll who killed his parents and re-claim his throne, combined elements of Prince Valiant and the Lord of the Rings while amping the violence up to Robert E. Howard levels.

Unfortunately, like most comics of the mid-70s (and almost every Atlas/Seaboard comic), the creative winds quickly began to change, so Hama didn't stay with Wulf for very long. While he worked on Wulf #2, Hama also had to deal with the death of his mother. Many of his friends from Continuity Associates stepped in to lend a hand in completing the comic, but when it was all over, Hama decided to more seriously pursue his acting career and left comics (temporarily) behind. Issue #3 was written by co-creator Steve Skeates and plotted and drawn by Leo Summers, giving us a glimpse of what-might-have-been had Skeates been allowed to have scripted Wulf from the beginning. I say "glimpse" because with issue #4, as he had done with the final issues of almost every other Atlas/Seaboard title, Mike Friedrich took over the writing chores while Jim Craig was picked to be penciler. And that was that. Atlas/Seaboard went under, taking Wulf and the rest of the Atlas/Seaboard line down with it. After almost three and a half decades, Ol' Groove is still bummed about that!

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