Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Warlord and the art of the story


This is what makes The Warlord great. This is why nearly thirty years on, I remain captivated by this book, the character and the work of Mike Grell as a whole.

I know, for most of you, I'm throwing you in out of context, and it could look simply like a man weeping, and give entirely the wrong impression. Travis Morgan roams the subterranean land of Skartaris with a .44 AutoMag and, until just prior to this, a sword that is magically enchanted to require the taste of blood every time it is unsheathed. Suffice it to say, James Taylor doesn't write songs about him.

The build to this moment takes place, aside from the whole of the preceding series, is nearly two years worth of storytelling. Of action and adventure, along with searching and longing. This moment is earned in the story.

As such, the beauty is indeed that this moment is there, but also that it's not there in order to prove that it's a sensitive story or filled characterization. Lots of lesser comics these days have characters constantly angsty and emotional in order to prove that the creators can create three-dimensional characters and don't have to be just what people dismiss as "comic book" storytelling.

There is something else here. This grows out of the preceding months and months of stories, but also organically from the character. This isn't "How can we make Travis Morgan weep?" but "What does Travis Morgan do when faced with this moment?"

And it is also why the next time we see, he has literally gotten back on the horse.




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