By Steve Skeates & Dave Wenzel (DC Comics)
Being nothing but a bunch of banana-fingers with stubby thumbs and utterly immune to the specious allure of computer and video games, I can’t admit to much knowledge of the antecedents of this intriguing fantasy book. Still that means that I can dispassionately comment on the package as a read unswayed by its origins.
In the mid-1980s all the major comics companies were exploring the European concept of albums and graphic novels: enlarged and expanded narratives produced on better paper stock using more expensive printing techniques. Coincidentally, at this time DC had entered into a financial arrangement with video-gaming giant Atari resulting in such superb comics spin-offs as Atari Force (a comic still screaming out for a definitive collection) and Star Raiders.
Another Atari property that made the leap to the printed page was Warlords; at first glance one more Tolkienesque derivative comprised of fairies and elves, wizards and giants, with general blade-based mayhem aplenty. But on closer examination this colourful little epic has hidden charms: for a start it’s written for sly knowing laughs, isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself and even the genre it owes its existence to.
The other big plus is the creative team. The sharp and witty script by the hugely underrated Steve Skeates is illustrated by fantasy master (and honorary Hobbit) David Wenzel and together they produced this impressive and engaging tale of an underachieving troll “Just Plain Dwayne” who reluctantly finds himself holding a magic amulet that everybody wants in the middle of an eternal cold war between the four Warlords who control the world.
Unfortunately now that the scurrilous Dwayne has the mystic bauble that war’s going to heat up pretty quickly…
It’s relatively easy to parody a genre, but to be funny within the internal logic of one is a master’s trick: so when I tell you Dwayne’s little quest is still ripe with climactic battles, fabulous beasts, glorious creatures, hair-raising tension and incredible action you know its something you just have to see.
Trust me, I’m a Scholar…
© 1983 Atari Inc. All Rights Reserved.