Seven Soldiers of Victory, part 3: the Crimson Avenger

Adventure Comics #440, August 1975

The back-up feature is an unpublished saga of the Seven Soldiers of Victory – written in the Golden Age but never rendered and completed until 1975.

Adventure 440 splashPart Four: The Crimson Avenger

“Kings Make a Full House!”

Writer: Joseph Samachson, Penciler/Inker: Mike Grell, Inker: Ben Oda, Editor: Joe Orlando & Paul Levitz

Crimson Avenger and Wing discover streams of water that makes them grow to giant size or shrink to the size of blades of grass. They experiment to get themselves back to normal.

They spot a collapsing castle. Growing to giant size, they prop up the castle to prevent any damage.

The castle’s owner, King Mistybrain objects to their saving his castle. He has visitors – other kings – who refuse to leave and collapsing the castle is the only way to get them to leave! The Crimson Avenger and Wing offer to help. One of the guests, King Adelbert, overhears and vows to stop our heroes!

He spikes our heroes’ drinks with the shrinking potion and tries to smash them on the dinner table. CA and Wing escape by tossing the salad and other food at the king until they can get to their growing potion.

Growing to giants, Crimson Avenger and Wing vow to find work for the lazy guests. At the mention of work, the kings run off. To thank them for their help, Mistybrain shows Crimson Avenger and Wing the direction out of the Land of Magic.


I’ve gotten rid of semi-permanent guests by demanding they chip in for the electric bill and rent. I therefore have first-hand knowledge that Crimson’s plan would have worked…


A house ad announces this is the last issue starring the Spectre, ending the classic Fleisher-Aparo run. The run is reprinted in the series Wrath of the Spectre, with stories written but not completed (much like this Seven Soldiers of Victory tale) in Wrath… #4.


Why was Wing never considered a member? He was in every adventure – they counted Speedy (and Stripesy, but he and SSK were more a team than a hero-sidekick). Was it a racist thing?

About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!



More on The Warlord – a supplement to a prior blog!

A supplement to a prior blog:

See my original review of the Bronze age comic book Warlord from DC Comics.

To quote my review of the series Warlord: “(issue #2’s) … story does not end in a cliffhanger per se, as had the previous issue, but it had an open ending. Yet “The End” was prominently written on the final page. Did Messers. Grell and Orlando know this was the last issue? Did they know it would come back in a few months?”


Scoop is an excellent e-newsletter and I recommend anyone who enjoys my blog to subscribe.

Recently Scoop featured an interview with Mike Grell and he addressed Warlord’s hiatus:

“ … when I turned in pages I would pick up the letter pages and stand in the office and read through it, proofread to make sure there were no errors that needed sent back for corrections before I did the finished inks, when it came to issue 3, I was in Joe’s office and at the end of the book instead of saying “Next Issue” it said “The End.” I turned to Joe and said, “This is wrong. It says ‘The End’ but it should say ‘Next Issue.’” Joe said, “Yeah, well, Carmine cancelled the book.” I said, “He can’t do that, he promised me a year’s run.” And Joe says, “Yeah, well, he lied. He does that.”

“Fortunately for me and for the Warlord, within a couple of weeks Carmine Infantino was out and Jenette Kahn arrived on the scene. It turned out that Jenette was a pretty astute cookie and she had studied the entire lineup very thoroughly before she ever took over the company. I come to find out that Warlord was one of her favorite books. She looked at the production schedule and said, “Where’s the Warlord?” I told her, “Well, Carmine cancelled it.” She said, “Carmine’s not here anymore, put it back.” So that’s how Warlord got continued on past issue 3.”


So the mystery is solved!


Read the entire interview, where he also talks about his time on the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Interview with Mike Grell ©2017 Gemstone Publishing, Inc., Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, Diamond International Galleries, and/or the Fandom Advisory Network. They hold all rights.


DC Bicentennial banner comics by the numbers: lies, damn lies and statistics!


Tale of the Tape

 This is for all the number crunchers …


Of the 33 Bicentennial comics …


 July issues: 12

August issues: 21

 50-cent issues: 5

35-cent issues: 28


Bi-monthly issues: 20

Monthly issues: 11

9-times-a-year: 2 (Superboy/Legion and World’s Finest)


             Comic books were “required by law” to publish an annual sales statement, including individual issues sold closest to the reporting month. Here are the comics I have during that reporting month from 1976 that stated their individual sales figures.

Brave & Bold 151,000
JLA 193,000
World’s Finest 132,185
Adventure 104,309
Superman 216,122
Superman Family 156,636



 Denny O’Neil edited one comic

Nelson Bridwell two

Gerry Conway, five

Joe Kubert, three

Julius Schwartz, seven

Murray Boltinoff, seven

Joe Orlando led them all with eight comics


Cover artists:

 Bob Oksner

Dave Manak

Keith Giffen

Ricardo Villagran

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, two including one with Bob Wiacek

Mike Grell, two

Jim Aparo, two

Luis Dominguez, three

Joe Kubert, four

Dick Giordano, five issues, including one with Terry Austin

Ernie Chua drew an astounding ten issues


 Writers: keep in mind there are more than 33 writers here, that’s because obviously many comics had two (or three or sometimes more) stories per issue. Some comics, such as Ghosts, did not list the writers, and neither Grand Comics Database nor DC Comics Database list authors for that issue.

 Barry Jameson

Bart Regan (two)

Bob Haney (three)

Bob Rozakis (two, including one with Michael Uslan)

Cary Bates (three)

Dave Wood

David Anthony Kraft

David Michelinie

David V. Reed

Denny O’Neil

Don Cameron & Joe Samachson

Elliot S! Maggin (three)

Gardner Fox (two reprints)

George Kashdan (two)

Jack Oleck 

John Broome (two reprints)

Len Wein

Martin Pasko (two, NOT counting two more with Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz)

Michael Fleisher

Russ Manning

Sheldon Meyer (a reprint)

Steve Skeates

Weshley Marsh (Murray Boltinoff)

Gerry Conway (seven, including one with Marty Pasko)

Robert Kanigher (our leader with nine total stories written in the 33 comics)

Did I miss any? Wouldn’t surprise me… 


 Artists: as with the writers category there are more than 33 artists here, that’s because obviously many comics had two (or three or sometimes more) stories per issue

 Buddy Gernale

Carmine Infantino (two reprints)

Chic Stone and Mike Royer

Curt Swan (three, including one with John Calnan)

Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin

Don Perlin

ER Cruz

Ernie Chua (two including one with Tex Blaisdell)

Nestor Redondo (and/or his studio)

Franc C Reyes

Fred Carillo

Gene Ureta

George Evans

George Molintorni

Gil Kane & Sid Greene (reprint)

Irv Novick (two, one with Ted Baisdell)

Jerry Robinson (reprint)

Jess Jodloman

Jim Aparo (two)

Jim Mooney (a).

José Delbo

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (two, one with Bob Oksner)

Keith Giffen & Wally Wood

Keith Griffin, Ricardo Villagran and Oscar Novelle & Luis Dominguez

Mike Grell

Mike Kaluta (reprint)

Noly Zamora

Pablo Marcos

Pablo Marcos  & Bob Smith

Paul Kruchner and Tex Blasdell

Ricardo Villamonte

Rich Buckler

Rico Rival

Romana Fradon & Juan Canale,

Ross Andru & Mike Esposito


Ruby Florese

Russ Manning

Sam Glanzman

Sheldon Moldoff (reprint)

Terry Hensen

Ric Estrada (an amazing 8, which includes 2 with Joe Staton and one with Al Milgrom – with that many comics I can imagine he would need the help!)


             Comics, especially from the Big Two, rarely have letter columns in these days of email and Instant Messaging. I think that’s a shame. But letter columns made up an integral part of a comic book – it’s how fans kept in touch with one another. Some fans became professionals simply because their letter writing gave them name recognition at hiring time (Bob Rozakis for one) – it helped that the letter writers (Bob included) were also talented! One wonders how many hacks were turned away – “but I had 46 letters published!” “Your letter writing skill is good, that’s true, but as a comic book fiction writer … you stink.”  The only future comic book talent from the letter writers of these July 1976 comics that I recognize is Bob Rodi (from Karate Kid #3).

            “Hey!” I write for comics and I’m on that list! Oops, sorry I didn’t recognize the name. What comics do you write/draw/etc. for? I’d love to read them!

            I left out anonymous and obvious fake names. Here are, I think, all of them:

            The most prolific writers were Mike White, who appeared in 7 issues (nearly one third of the comics) and Fred Schneider in 5 issues.

 Adam Castro of New Rochelle, NY (3 letters total)

Arthur Grance of Staten Island, NY

Arthur Kowalik of Wilmington, DE

Barry Charles of Louisville, KY

Bart Casey of Dayton, Ohio

Bob Robinson, Lincoln, NE

Bob Rodi of Columbia, MO

Brian Dyke of Goodlettsville, TN

Brian Scott of Streator, IL

Burt Fowler of Jacksonville, FL

Cadet Captain Ruby S Nelson of Jacksonville, AL

Carlton McDaniels of New York

Clifford Gerstman of New York, NY

Craig Kenner of Massillon, OH

Damian Brokaw of Denver, CO

Dan Cardenas, San Luis Obispo, CA

Dave Wilcox, Arlington Heights, IL

David A Jones of Horse Cave, KY

David B. Kirby of Richmond, VA

David Hanson of Swartz Creek, Mich.

David J. Brown of Hammond, IN

David L Klees of Newton Centre, Mass 

David Trenton of New York, NY

DK Thomas of Brunswick, ME

Doil Ward of Ardmore TX

Don Vaughn of Lake Worth, FL

Drury Moore of Springfield, IL

Edward Wojcik of Detroit, Michigan

Elizabeth Smith of Tacoma Washington

Eric Ehrlich of North Platte, NE

FL Watkins, Champaign, IL

Fred Schneider of New York (6 issues)

Gerald Duit of New Orleans, LA

Glenn Rowsam of Oakland, CA

Hugh J. Leach, Mason, MI

Charles Backman of Sterling Heights, MI

Jack Gregotz, Mayfield Heights, OH

James Parker of Clarksville, TN

Janet Fadel of Hollywood, CA

Jeff Sporn of Bethesda, MD

Jerry Rosen of New York, NY

Jim Dever of Philadelphia, PA

Jim Humm of El Monte, CA

Jim Planack of Poughkeepsie, NY

Jimmy Holcomb of Mesquite, TX

Joe Peluso, Brooklyn, NY

John Baker of Baltimore, MD

John Elliot, New York, NY (3 letters)

John Jesse of Hobart, IN

Jonathan Kuntz, Los Angeles, CA

Judy Newton of Thompkinsville, RI

Katie Raisler of East Lansing, MI

Ken Kemble of San Antonio, TX

Ken Regalado, South Pasadena, CA

Kevin L. Callahan, Brea, CA (3 issues)

Kirk Anderson of DeForest, WI

Linas Sabalys of Laval, PQ, Canada (3 issues)

Louis A, Latzer of St. Louis, MO

Marie Munas of La Mesa, CA

Mark McIntyre of Atlanta, GA

Mark Schmeider, Concord, Mass (5 issues)

Mark Wannop of Camden, NJ

Mark Zutkoff, Timoniom, MD

Mary E. ReCasino, Vernon, CT

Matthew Elyosin, Madison, CT

Michael D Dargay of Royal Oak, MI (3 issues)

Michael Lapsley of Morrow, GA

Mike Karvalas of Chicago, IL

Mike Thompson of Lockemup Prison

Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (the most: 7 issues)

Paul Emrath of Milwaukee, WI (3 issues)

Paulo Mariorann of Parma, Ontario

Peter Sanderson of New York, NY

Robert Gustive of Grand Island, Neb

Robert LaChine of Chicago, IL

Robert Vias, Dover, NJ

Robert W. Chan of Edmonton, Canada

Rod McLaughlin of Ramsey, Mont.

Roger Thomas Enevoldesen, North Augusta, SC

Ron Lindsey of Augusta, GA

Ronald M. Fitz, Valparaiso, IN

Sam MCHendley of Berkeley, CA

Sarah Finnegan of Washington DC

Scott Gibson of Evergreen CO (5 issues)

Scott R. Taylor of Portland, TX (3 issues)

Steve Kalaitzidis of Toronto, Ontario

Teddy Arnold of Houston TX

Terry Chadwick of Phoenix, AZ

Thomas Edward Bigham of Matt, Mass

Thomas Russon of Mt. Kisco, NY

Tim Corrigan, Rochester, NY

Tom Kelleher of Norwalk, Conn.

Tom Weyandt of Broadtop City, PA

Wade Sears of Calgary, Alberta

Walter Green of Wading River, NY


 Thanks for reading the blog series. It was as much fun to read (and re-read) these comics as it was to comment about them.

 My father would bring home stacks and stacks of DC comics for me. He worked for the Air Force, but some of his staff’s spouses worked for Sparta Printing – where they used to give away comics to the employees by the truckload. It was literally, “your boss has a kid? Here!” {thud}

Doing this blog series reminded me of that. I had a stack of comics next to my chair. I also had a notepad and pen to make notes. But at times I imagined my dad bringing home these 33 comics for me to enjoy.

This blog series is dedicated to him.


Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry


            Images used are copyright their respective holders and and reproduced here under the “fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

The Warlord: DC Comics Adventure Line’s Most Successful Failure

Enter the Lost World of … THE WARLORD!


            The one true success of DC’s Adventure Line was The Warlord.  His comic lasted until issue #133 in 1988 – despite a hiatus between issue #2 (April 1976) and #3 (November 1976) of nine months. The character appeared throughout the DC universe – in Crisis, Aquaman, Green Arrow, his own revived series, and in DC’s current mega-event “Convergence”.

            Then again, you could argue Warlord was DC’s Adventure Line’s biggest failure! It was the last of the seven comics of the line to appear – and that was in First Issue Special. First Issue Special replaced Showcase as DC’s anthology series for new or revived series. Issues featured Metamorpho and the Creeper, the Green Team and a revival of the New Gods (the only other feature from First Issue Special to get its own magazine). Warlord as its own magazine did not appear until February of 1976 (remember the cover date is about four months ahead of the publication date – it was published around November of 1975). It only lasted two issues.

            Click here for Mike Grell’s explanation of the hiatus between issues #2 and 3!

            It did not appear on the stands again until the next summer – the month after the last issue of the only other Adventure Line alum – Claw – was published. It is likely Warlord took Claw’s place on the roster.

            Regardless, from May 1975 until December 1988 fans of the non-imprint enjoyed the best of high adventure!

            For the purists, July 1975 was the only time a fan of the Line could purchase all seven titles – it was the only month all seven titles were new on the stands (these had October and November cover dates).

            Why was Warlord such a late entry? It was published too late to have the Adventure Line ad in it. Why did it appear first in a “try-out” comic instead of its own feature like Kong or Stalker? Were the powers at DC afraid Warlord might not be a success? When I meet the creator again I may ask him…

            Warlord was Mike Grell’s baby – he wrote the series through #79 and drew the book until issue #53. Since its original run the title has been revived three times; once as a miniseries and twice as a continuing series – other than the original run the fourth series was the longest and lasted only 16 issues. Even so, these “failed” revivals lasted more issues than most of the other Adventure Line comics!

            I promise not to review all 133 issues, just the first ten (eleven if you count First Issue Special…)! It will give you a good taste of the series.

            In fact, issue #50 of The Warlord had a series synopsis of the prior issues in its letter column. As I’ve written here before, since someone has already done the work for me… Ross Andru was the editor and Karen Berger was the editorial  coordinator for #50 – the actual writer of these synopses is unknown.


            Unless otherwise notes, all issues were written and illustrated by Mike Grell and edited by Joe Orlando.

First Issue Special #8, “This Savage World”, November 1977, Travis Morgan crashes in Skartaris and rescues the princess Tara from the evil Deimos. I got Iron Mike to sign my copy (on the bottom of the page along the dinosaur’s tail…).


#1. “This Savage World”, February 1976, En route to Shamballah, Travis and Tara are captured by slavers. Travis helps free Tara, but is tied and left for dead.

#2. “Arena of Death”, April 1976, Escaping, Travis is captured and made a galley slave. After a sea battle he and fellow slave Machiste are made gladiators. Travis leads the gladiators in revolt when he learns that Tara has been captured by Deimos.

            The story does not end in a cliffhanger per se, as had the previous issue, but it had an open ending. Yet “The End” was prominently written on the final page. Did Messers. Grell and Orlando know this was the last issue? Did they know it would come back in a few months? I don’t have the issue so I cannot read the letter column to find out! I DO have the Showcase collection of its first few years, but those (unfortunately) do not contain ads or letter columns. Anybody out there have the issue? What does the letter column say?

#3. “War Gods of Skartaris”, November 1976, On their quest for Tara, Travis and Machiste battle the lizardmen and discover Travis’ wrecked plane. This was the first issue of the comic I owned. I made sure to pick up the series for many years afterward. I left it about the same time as Grell…

#4. “Duel of the Titans”, January 1977, Warlord’s band attack Deimos’ stronghold, but he uses the lost science of Atlantis to hold them back. Travis faces Deimos in a sword fight and kills him, freeing Tara.

#5. “The Secret of Skartaris”, March 1977, Jack C Harris took over as editor. On their way to Shamballah, Travis and Tara discover some ruins where they learn that the “magic” in Skartaris is really lost Atlantean science. An old Atlantean tramway accidentally returns him to the surface world.

#6. “Home is a Four-Letter Word”, May 1977, In Peru, Travis meets Mariah Romanov and an international party  of archeologists. After helping them defeat a demon, he and Mariah return to Skartaris, pursued by a CIA man who believes Travis a traitor.

#7. “The Iron Devil”, July 1977, Warlord and Mariah meet Machiste again and Travis is forced to sever his friend’s hand, freeing him from a cursed battleaxe.

#8. “The City in the Sky”, September 1977, Denny O’Neil takes over as editor. Our trio encounter and defeat a man-eating cyborg on a floating city manned by robots.

#9. “Lair of the Snowbeast”, November 1977, Lost in the snowy wastes, Warlord rescues Marian and Machiste from a warrior tribe with the aid of a mysterious snow beast.

#10. “Tower of Fear”, January 1978, Larry Hama takes over as editor. Our trio rescues Ashiya, and then aids her in obtaining a mysterious Mask of Life with which she later secretly revives the slain Deimos.


            The art and stories were excellent throughout. Criticisms that it contains warmed-over tropes of a Hollow Earth and a Land That Time Forgot miss the point. Grell’s sheer joy in the stories and characters shine through. He shows a fully-realized fantasy realm here – something missing in, say, the last issues of Kong the Untamed.

            It was a thorough tale of a realized world that unfolded slowly like a novel. It was wonderfully done. And his women were gorgeous!


            Warlord’s success is evident in his appearances outside the comics realm – he had his own action figure line through Remco,

 warlord 1

he appeared in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon,

 Warlord 2

and (mordant bleu) even in cosplay!

 warlord cosplay

            The comic previewed two other successful sword and sorcery DC comics: Arak Son of Thunder and Arion Lord of Atlantis. Two other back-up features – Adventure Line alum Claw (which concluded the story line of his cancelled series) and Dragonsword – were wonderful additions. Warlord was DC’s most successful sword-and-sorcery comic during its run, so it served as the touchstone and host for DC’s other attempts at the genre.


            One huge success out of seven comics. Not very good for a line of comics. But this “line” or (imprint as we’d call it nowadays) only existed in one full-page house advertisement, and every issue was great fun. And most of them have aged well – there were no real stinkers in the batch.

            I loved reading them then, I love reading them now. I enjoy the comics and they entertain me. I finish each issue with a smile. That’s pretty rare for a comic nowadays.

            Thanks for joining me in this look at some of DC’s more obscure run of comics!

Original Material Copyright 2015 Michael Curry