Warlord Digital Version Commentary (Warlord #1 A Comparison Of Four Versions)

UPDATE: Now that I have completed my review of Warlord #1 I will now comment occasionally on the issues as they come out.

With the digital release of Warlord #1 on DCUI I decided to compare it to three different versions that I own. I will be reviewing all four versions based on reproduction quality, coloring, and other factors in the coming days. I am not an artist, but I do appreciate art and will do my best to provide a critique based on my limited knowledge. I invite all the DC community members to join me and comment on this issue.


Here. We. Go!

NOTE: I will be using screenshots, scans, and photos as the visual tools for my review. I did not create individual pages for the photos because I would like to actually have a life outside the DC Community. The number of pages posted will vary as I compare the different versions.

The New Digital Version (2023)

The Original Comic Version (1975)

The Savage Empire TPB (1991)

Showcase TPB (2009)

The digital version keeps the original coloring to match the 1975 comic. The 1991 TPB adds to the campfire and in my opinion it takes away from the central action. The 2009 B&W version keeps the original mostly black background which again helps focus on the central action and allows the reader to appreciate the composition without the aid of color.

Finally, only in the digital version is the $ 0.25 pricing removed. Maybe to not remind us of inflation vs. today’s price. In defense of the entire comics industry the quality of today’s comics (better paper, printing, etc.) accounts for much of the price increases.


I never thought about this but I now wonder how many original covers have been changed over the years for the TPB’s. I wouldn’t have noticed unless you pointed it out so I will probably not make a living on my detective skills anytime soon.

I have a first issue question: the way the story begins it seems like it is recapping an origin story that was published already. Was there something before this or is this the beginning and the origin story is tackled later on?


@KookieSuperApe is correct. Warlord was launched in 1st Issue Special and was the only one to go on to a successful (133 issues) series.


Thanks for the info and the link. Just read that issue as well and I am definitely looking forward to reading a lot more!


We now have pages 1-4. We open with Morgan and Tara in an unexplained sword fight and then as @SteveTrevor2.0 noticed there is a quick two page recap of 1st Issue Special #8 with the fourth page introducing the phrase “always expect the unexpected.”


The opening splash page keeps the same color scheme as the original.

Page two changes the background of panel one from tan to blue. It has Mike’s original Zipatone™ shadow across Morgan’s face which is a nice touch. The recoloring also adds more light blue highlights to his white hair. It also has Morgan’s life vest change from tan to gray and the dinosaurs become (a little too bright for me) orange and purple. Really, orange and purple? :wink:

Page three is a much brighter version of the original with another orange dinosaur (well it does match the color on the cover of 1st Issue Special #8). The city of Thera looks even more ghostly with the new coloring vs. the original. The coloring on Deimos in the second panel adds gray to give it more depth which is pleasing to the eye. The Zipatone™ is a little spotty on Deimos. Some of the flesh tones have a Moire type checkered pattern which I’m not sure is from my iPad since Savage Empire skips the recap as the trade starts with 1st Issue Special #8.

In the middle of the second panel they add what looks like blood to the strike and motion lines around Morgan’s sword (no Comics Code Authority in 2023) and they color the barbarian blue rather than the natural coloring in the original. I guess they’re trying to emphasize Morgan and Tara.

Page four is again a brighter version of the original and Savage Empire. The background trees are a little too bright for my taste as I prefer the pale green and pale blue of the previous versions. I also don’t understand why Morgan’s face is redder in panel three along with a red background vs. flesh tone and a yellow background with the previous versions.

I love Morgan’s long hair and ‘70s sideburns (I wish mine came in like that) and the “acting” portrayed by Mike Grell with Tara’s surprise in panel one, her demure look in panel two which leads to Morgan’s satisfied look in panel three which turns to surprise and then shock in panel four. Tara shows Morgan who’s the boss in the final panel and her face shows it.

I love the shading on the pummel of Tara’s sword, but I prefer the realistic two color version of the sword in the previous versions. I also prefer the previous versions of Morgan’s hair white without the light blue highlights in the digital version. The moire checkered pattern is still there on the flesh tones of the digital version, but I don’t see any in the original scans or my photos of Savage Empire.


I think I covered my preferences of the original quite well in my digital commentary.

Savage Empire

Because 1st Issue Special #8 preceded issue 1 in the TPB the splash page and recap pages are totally skipped. As a single story that works, but I do miss the splash page. The color is great and mirrors the original so I really like it.


The B&W version is nice to see Grell’s amazing line work. Even though 1st Issue Special #8 is included in the Showcase version the recap pages remain so we get a facsimile of the original. They remove the Zipatone™ on both the sword shadow on Morgan’s face on page three and Deimos’ face on page four. I’m assuming they removed it for clarity of image and because it was still being printed on newsprint type paper.


If you made it through the above post you realize that when I write about the Warlord I channel @Vroom when he writes about action figures. :rofl: Thanks for you patience and indulgence. As you may have guessed 13 year old Travis poured over these issues and reread them dozens of times. Finally, I have to say this:

I really love having the digital version on DCUI and I wish to thank the folks that have worked so hard on the restorations!

Please take my “Comic Book Guy” anal retentiveness with a grain of salt. These are only my uninformed opinions. I’m not an artist and I know nothing of color theory (other than opposites on the color wheel are complimentary, I think). Feel free to correct me or comment on on the pages.


Same! :bowing_man:



As any good writer knows, you write what you know.

You do indeed know your Warlord, so keep up the great work, my Skartaran friend. :crossed_swords: :superman_hv_4:


Well, I’m enjoying the breakdown so keep ‘em coming!

Now I’ll never look at orange and purple dinosaurs the same way. :rofl:


Mike was drawing Velociraptors well before Jurassic Park, but he put the super-claws on both the front and back legs.


On to pages 5, 6, and 7.

Page 5 we have an establishing shot with Morgan and Tara deep in the jungle. Ignoring the (very) pink lizard, I like how panel 1 swaps the green and yellow from the original which brings the focus on them in the distance.

More great acting with the down shot in panel 2 shows Morgan’s frustration over his ridiculous story. Panels 3 and 6 show Tara and Morgan doubting what the other is saying.

Different from the original panels 3 and 4 swap flesh tone for light blue between the two panels. Again, more light blue highlights on Morgan’s hair. The final panel shows them enjoying themselves and the beginning of their relationship.

Page 6 features Barney the purple dinosaur and that is all I will say. :roll_eyes: Small coloring difference in panel 1 with the water and background jungle the same light blue vs. the original with a light green background highlights the water.

Panel 2 has a weird shadow on Tara’s shoulder that the original doesn’t have. It doesn’t work for me because I imagine them under a dense jungle canopy that would not allow the sun to shine through and cast a shadow.

Panel 3 seems to me as inferior to the original. Gone are both the realistic coloring of Tara and Morgan and the tree offering contrast to the jungle in the distance. I would think with digital coloring it would be easier to do more detail compared the 1970s version of cutting colored films for each individual section.

Page 7 shows Barney leaving with lunch and Morgan’s frustration showing in his body language. The main panel shows the downtrodden slaves as shown through their faces, body language, and the child clinging to her mother. More comments below on the other versions.


Page 7 of the original I prefer the two black horses on the left and on brown horse on the right. The fine detail is missing on the halter and reins so the newly colored brown horse so it just looks like a blob of brown. In the final panel I like Morgan and Tara with realistic coloring rather than the digital (bright) red.

Savage Empire

My favorite version for these three pages is the Savage Empire version. One nit is Tara’s belt on page 5 last panel is not yellow.

I love the T-Rex and it stays consistent as does the Sable vs, both the other versions. I like the final page with all natural colors. I think the ability to zoom in is spoiling the digital version. I still wonder why the other versions of page 7 seem to have more and cleaner color detail. I almost suspect the original comic was scanned and the colors touched up and changed. See the marked up versions below.


I don’t have anything to say on the Showcase version other than it is beautiful.

Marked Up Color Examples

If you zoom in on the digital version you will notice the Moire pattern on the horses legs. You will also notice many different colors on the edge of the bottom of the panel. There are weird gray spots on the captives that seem to be bad coloring or printing.

No Moire on the horse’s legs and better coloring on the black horse. More detail and the rider’s leg is lighter helping to define it more. Different colors along the bottom of the panel like the digital version. Both the digital and original have part of the one child’s foot colored green and the boundary of the grass by all there feet have the two colors meeting somewhat sloppily.

The Savage Empire version has no Moire, more detail on the second horse, the foot is not half green, and the grass boundary is cleaner. Truly the best of the bunch.

Please tell me if my old eyes are seeing things or you see these subtle differences also.

Final comments:

Mike draws a mean T-Rex, but it is before the bird evolution theory so his stands up straighter.

Tara and Morgan bag what appears to be an African Sable that T-Rex steals.

Mike’s next creation would be Jon Sable. Note the logo and the Sable. The man knows what he likes.


Glad I looked at this thread! I was able to read the 1st Issue Special “Warlord” story first because of it. I loved these 2 issues. It is a well done fantasy story, that I can see having a lot of engaging story as it continues. I am already invested in seeing where Morgan ends up after just these 2 issues. I also am loving seeing these comparisons in this thread. It is very educational in its own way to see the differences. I appreciate you taking the time to be this nerdy, @TravisMorgan.


Thank you so much @CassTheStreet. I’m so happy you you enjoyed both issues. I’m hoping the community will come to appreciate the Warlord like I do. Remember, after the first twelve issues are digitized we vote again for another group of series that includes Warlord so you can help continue the story by voting.


Since they mentioned we should have 3 votes next time, I plan on leaving one of the three permanently earmarked for Warlord, as long as it is on the list or whenever it appears.





I am still shocked at how much difference there is between the versions. It make me curious to compare my Conan comics with the omnibuses I have to see if there are similar changes.

One thing is for sure: I don’t notice weirdly colored dinosaurs until someone points them out. :grin:


Okay, new approach. I’m going to post all four versions of each page for easier comparison (I hope). And now: pages 8, 9, and 10.

Page Eight holds only a few changes in the digital version. Now it’s a purple pterodactyl in panel one. The cave wall in panel two is blue and doesn’t blend as well as the the other versions with browns and grays. In panel four Tara is now blue to match the cave wall.

Here are a few panels that to my scanning suspicions. The top panel is the digital version that has the moire patterns and the sloppy coloring. There are white spaces around the pterodactyl, the green and orange sections overlap and the tree by Tara has several overlaps.

The original does have some white around the pterodactyl and the orange and green boundary is much cleaner. Finally the 1991 Savage Empire version is perfect. No white spaces and no coloring outside the lines (yes, I was one of those kids).

Another batch of panels. Digital: I’m still not digging Tara in blue or the light blue highlights in Morgan’s hair. His sideburn coloring is outside the lines as is his bracelet which lacks the white highlights in the other two versions.

The original version on newsprint is cleaner than the digital and has more detail on the bracelet. Again, Savage Empire wins with great coloring on great paper.

Page Nine the mysterious music continues from the last panel of page eight. The digital version is very good and it matches the previous versions. The only thing missing is in panel two the background outside the cave is a single color vs. the other two which highlight the foliage and the night sky.

Great acting with Morgan’s look of shock in panel three and his urgency as he runs out of the cave in panel four. The B&W Showcase version shows the delicate line work of Mike Grell.

Page ten shows us where the music is coming from. For once I like the digital coloring better than the originals. They’ve added highlights to the mushrooms in panel one which adds more detail. I also like the light blue backgrounds of panels two and three. It gives satyr (aka Zamfir) more focus and emphasizes his head turn in panel three.

The Showcase B&W version brings out the detail in Grell’s line work like the ties (shoelaces?) on Tara’s moccasins. Tough to see in the color versions but you can make it out in the Showcase version. It’s that kind of detail that amazes me when I think about the work he did for “just” a comic book.


Time for pages 11, 12, and 13.

Page Eleven of the digital version is much brighter the the other two color versions. They’ve turned panel two from blue to flesh tone and colored Morgan and Tara yellow in panel three. They also changed panel four to darken the weapons in the foreground. The whole page is somewhat cool with blue and green tones.

The other two versions use cool colors up top and warmer colors on the bottom two panels. I like that the top of the page reflects that they outside in the night and the warmer panels are lit by the fire in the cave giving us the sense of space. The Showcase version again shows the details and Grell’s use of blacks to frame panel four.

Page Twelve is a great splash page that shows the fury of Morgan to protect himself and Tara. I actually love the original version which is much darker than the other two. The lighter versions just don’t convey the savagery and grittiness of the situation.

Page Thirteen of the digital version has some interesting color choices. A majority of blues and greens so it a cooler color palate than the other two. I don’t understand the change from realistic colors to blue and yellow in the first panel. Why as Morgan regains consciousness does Tara’s face appear yellow rather than the pink flesh tone? That makes more sense in the other two versions.

The final panel just explodes in color compared to the other versions. The foliage is all bright green as is the boulder the head slaver is standing on. Why? Suddenly the head slaver is Eric the Red with a red fur cloak, matching loincloth, boots, and wrist bands.

The best coloring is the original version. In the first panel you can even see the yellow of Tara’s belt and headband. I like the lighter coloring on the head slaver so that the details on his boots/moccasins and belt are more discernible.

Is it odd that I like the coloring of different pages from different versions? For me it’s just what highlights the art the best in my opinion.

Here’s some little extras. I bought this 11”x17” transparency of page twelve that is used in the printing process. The actual comic page is next to it so you can get a sense of scale.

Here’s another 11”x17” page (half of a two page spread) with issue #1 for size comparison.

I need to get them both framed.