Friday, April 11, 2014

Special Review: Warrior #1

Warrior #1, "Warrior," Cover Date May 1996
Written by Warrior, Penciled and Inked by Jim Callahan

Warrior #1 cover

We interrupt our regularly scheduled comic book reviews to review Warrior #1, in light of Warrior's surprising death this week. As a little background, Warrior had left WWF in November of 1992, and had since legally changed his name to "Warrior," and by 1995 was ready for a lawsuit against WWF for related trademarks and licenses (that he would eventually win). He took some time off from that in order to self-publish the "Warrior" comic, under the "Ultimate Creations" umbrella, at the tail end of the comic book bubble.

Warrior #1 destructicity

"Between knowledge of 'what is life' and 'what is death'... lies a battlefield of purpose before all 'beings"... in its simplest form we are all animals, affected by evolution, seeking survival of self, i.e., being. Within the earth plane, "survival of self" only exists by the consistent challenge and negotiation of rules and regulations."

-Opening narration box, Warrior #1.

Warrior #1 seasons

Warrior floats through space, with a truly Claremont-ian level of exposition, before crashing like a meteorite into a rocky surface. We start getting multiple narration boxes, a yellow that's the main character (Warrior), and orange, representing the voice of the ideal author. In-story Warrior decides it's time to get "foked," which an editor's note helpfully explains is short for "focused." Warrior runs across various empty landscapes, continuing to narrate in his head, while I can't help but imagine this is his running music:

Warrior #1 vision
"What if Mufasa had like, really huge arms?"

Still alone, and still monologue-ing, the Warrior sees the planets align, which creates a shadowy warrior symbol. He reacts to this by having energy fill his eyes and he starts having a seizure. He tries to remember something, but struggles, before a ghostly figure appears before him, looking like him, but with a big Santa Claus beard. The old, buff vision cuts a promo about how the Warrior is going to have to overcome obstacles, but in an extremely circular and rambling way.

Warrior #1 underwater
I assume "SKRONK" is the trademark Warrior snarl spelled out.

His vision over, Warrior dives into some water, and at the bottom, somehow shouts "My journey begins now!" which I imagine sounded like "mmmmbbbb jjjjjjjj bbbbbgggggg nwwwww" from 25 feet under water. He leaps out of the water like a dolphin and says "the student is ready, and you are not," and starts fighting some robed figures his vision warned him about. He fights the robed guys, killing several, including one by face-rip, before the figures teleport away, leaving a few corpses. The robed figures are lizard-men, and Warrior carves his symbol into one of their corpses, causing an energy flash to cause him to evolve his form into... I don't know, the Pen-ultimate Warrior? He's got a mask now.

Warrior #1 Coma
I'll bet it was that villainous Hull Kogan that did this to Warrior!

Meanwhile, in a "synchronous moment," a young woman cries over a buff, unconscious dude. Was it all a dream?! Meanwhile, somewhere else(?), a black man with a metal neck says "believe this." Uh, okay?

We end with a back-up black and white story. While The Warrior relaxes at his training facility and works on his art, a young mulatto woman (who looks a lot like Sherri Martel) is harassed by bullies. She takes some pills, presumably to kill herself, but Warrior appears to her in a dream. She wakes up, and finds a letter postmarked with Warrior's logo. We close on her tossing the pills in the trash.


Wow, I don't even know where to begin. This is truly next-level crazy outsider art in the form of comic books, because it only barely resembles comic book storytelling. It truly is amazing that Warrior, known for cutting bizarre, fatalistic promos, managed to write a comic book in that same voice. In fact, the narration box text should all be snarled and grunted in order to reach maximum "destructicity." In addition, Warrior has a two page written segment in which he talks about his imaginary friend, the power within us all, and how "the system beliefs" ruin young people.

In a sense, it's a good thing the book is massively overwritten, because it helps hide the fact that this issue is incredibly decompressed. Warrior is completely alone for 12 pages before encountering a vision of his father, more time then we get dedicated to the battle scene. Jim Callahan's other artistic work is a few issues of Malibu's original Hardcase series, and his Rob Liefeld-inspired anatomy is probably just right for a vanity project like this. One nice thing I can say is that for a self-published book, the coloring is nice. I assume Warrior spared no expense and got Image's production people.

In short, it's baffling and absurd, but honestly it's still fun, at least for a bit, to read the crazy narration boxes in Ultimate Warrior's voice. I mean, is Warrior as some sort of crazy planetary superhero that much wackier than what was going on in Extreme! Studios at the time? Warrior gets mocked for his completely over-the-top personality, but I think in some ways I prefer a madman's sincerity to genre deconstruction, although I might revise that opinion if I had to read six issues this crazy without something to wash it down with.

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