Greetings from the Odinson,
Recently, I mentioned in passing to a colleague that Mike Grell’s Warlord would make a great TV series, especially with the modern era of high quality television and streaming services. My co-worker responded that he did not know the material well enough to have an opinion.
In my enthusiasm, I tried to describe it as Burroughs’ on steroids, a mash up of sword and sorcery, science fiction, swashbuckling adventure and, just for good measure, dinosaurs! It would be a visual goldmine. Plus, Travis Morgan, the protagonist, is a normal man, kind of like Flash Gordon on Mongo.
Unfortunately, he was not impressed. Maybe I did not do a good job of explaining the material, so I’m going to try to rectify that here.
Why Mike Grell’s Warlord Would Make a Fantastic TV Series
Writers can be inspired by and pull from world history and the fiction of the past and add those elements to his/her own ideas in order to create a narrative. George Lucas’ Star Wars used elements of King Arthur, westerns, the samurai, and World War II to create a modern day fantasy. Blizzard’s StarCraft pulled from Star Wars, Firefly, Aliens, Predator, and Starship Troopers to create a stellar sci-fi saga. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire drew elements from Lord of the Rings, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, and the Wars of the Roses to create a drama that captured the imagination of a generation.
And, Mike Grell was no different.
Grell took elements from such authors as H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Jules Verne, and Edgar Rice Burroughs to create his world of sword and sorcery, science fiction, swashbuckling adventure, witches, warlocks, and dinosaurs!
The adventure takes place in a strange bizarre world located at the center of the Earth called Skartaris. Greatly inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Pellucidar, Skartaris is DC Comics’ answer to Marvel’s Savage Land. It is a vast lost continent of dangerous beauty, sweltering jungles, deep oceans, and mountain peaks that pierce the sky, which is home to an eternal sun that is orbited by a small moon.
In the pages of First Issue Special #8, Skartaris is described as “…life is a constant struggle for survival…one simple law prevails: If you let down your guard for an instant you will soon be very dead.”
Travis Morgan is a Vietnam vet and Air Force fighter pilot whose plane enters a strange portal and crash lands in this strange, dangerous world. Armed with only a sword, a pistol, and his wits, Morgan makes his way through this bizarre land fighting for survival every step of the way. Over time, he builds quite a reputation as an adventurer, rebel, leader, and earns the title Warlord.
From his signature winged-helmet to his skull shoulder pad down to his loincloth, Travis Morgan has a fantastic visual design. And, he must work out because the guy is ripped. We’re talking Brad Pitt in Fight Club ripped. Plus, he sports one of the greatest Van Dykes in history. He is a quintessential fantasy hero.
Travis Morgan’s allies are: Tara, his wife and Queen of the fabled Kingdom of Shamballa; Shakira, a striking woman that can transform into a black cat; Mariah, a Russian archeologist and fencer that journeys to Skartaris and becomes an adventurer; Mikola, Mariah’s former fencing instructor who is also a werewolf; Jennifer Morgan, his daughter and one of the most powerful magic-users in Skartaris; and Machiste, a guy with a spiked ball for a fist. Yes, a spiked ball for a fist!
Deimos is the most powerful warlord in all of Skartaris and Travis Morgan’s number one arch foe. This is not a nice man. He once kidnapped Morgan’s infant son, Joshua, and for revenge made an adult clone out of the boy and forced the Warlord to battle him to the death! Deimos is a player in the DCU’s pantheon of villainy as he played a big role in the Convergence event and has even squared off against the Justice League.
The Odinson’s Favorite Warlord Tale
Warlord #66 – It just has everything that makes this series so darn fun. When a demon sorcerer threatens to plunge the land into darkness, Travis Morgan gathers all his greatest allies together and embarks on a quest to stop him. This issue has it all – might and magic, a wizards’ duel, and a werewolf! Mike Grell and Dan Jurgens cram so much epic fantasy into 22 pages of storytelling that this issue by itself would make a great episode. It may even work stretched into a season arch.
In a time when television is producing high quality long-narrative genre tales like Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica, stories with big casts and complex characters that are allowed to grow over the course of a run, Mike Grell’s Warlord would make a visually stunning live action series. It is some of Grell’s best work, the Odinson’s favorite of the writer/artist, and a criminally underrated chapter in Comic Books History.
Oh, and did I mention it has Dinosaurs?!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – The Survivors: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audiobook.