Independent comics back in the day… Warlock 5

Warlock 5

Written by Gordon Derry. Art by Denis Beauvais
(published by Aircel 1986-1989)

Five guardians are engaged in a power of struggle over a grid where their realities intersect. The battles are fierce and bloody and no holds are barred. Originating from several genres such as fantasy, sci-fi and more, Warlock 5 was like a GURPS game come to life.

A dragon, futuristic robot, knight, survivor from a post-apocalyptic future and a mage made up the striking cast.

With some of the most attractive covers at the time and air-brushed black and white interiors, Warlock 5 became a short-lived cult hit thanks to its bloody violence and edgy material.

Back in the mid 1980’s, there was a dearth of comics like this, black and white indies hoping to compete with ‘the big two’ of Marvel and DC Comics who at the time were floundering. There’s no real spark of brilliance here, but rather a wish fulfillment of a teenager. The material is a mash-up of VHS covers at the local rental shop; a Terminator-esque killer robot, a punk rock chick, a dragon-like man and a reject from Highlander. That said, the book is a lot of juvenile fun.

There’s a very entertaining write-up about the series here.

It was a time when genre comics ruled. Rather than try and replicate the material that the big two had produced, there were fantasy books, science fiction dramas and more. Deadworld by Vince Locke (more than a little similar to the popular Walking Dead series of today) The Realm (featuring the work of a very young Guy Davis), the Ex-Mutants by David Lawrence and Ron Lim ruled the day.

Aircel is more remembered today as the home of Men in Black but at the time I recall enjoyed reading Samurai by Dale Keown, Dragonforce and Adventurers (to an extent). It was quick and dirty storytelling more concerned with image and explosive violence than any real characters or anything else, but it made no excuses for its shortcomings. In one issue, a character threatened to explode an atom bomb, however the following issue made no mention of any of this.

The creative team departed on the 13th issue when most fans agree that the quality took a dive. Running 22 issues, it’s still a lot of fun and a great basis for an animation project, video game or (dare I say) feature film if anyone can work out the legal entanglements.

What about you, readers? Do you have any favorite comics from back in the day?

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