As promised, here’s my surprise. I will be talking about my memories with the infamous WARRIOR comic books and why I enjoy them so much.
I was debating whether or not to also talk about the WWF comic books about the Ultimate Warrior but those are really not nearly as “entertaining” as those from the man himself.
Now for those that don’t know, the Ultimate Warrior was one of the most popular champions of the World Wrestling Federation in the 90s. Aside from his use of steroids in the early 90s he has kept a pretty clean record (especially when compared to other wrestlers…HOKOGAN) and has done pretty well for himself. However he has always carried the reputation of being well… batshit insane.
In real life, he has been a magnet for controversy due to his sarcastic sense of humor and unfiltered political views. It also doesn’t help his case much that his name was legally changed from Jim Hellwig to “Warrior.” This was done mainly for copyright reasons, and to make sure he always saw something whenever the WWF (currently the WWE) used his name or image to market something. Admittedly it was an odd move, but it worked.
When he wrestled his character was the “Ultimate Warrior” and he believed that meant being the embodiment of victory in combat, and never retreat, never follow, never show mercy, never settle for less, and never surrender. No force on Earth nor anywhere else could contain his power, and he showed that through constant aggression. And when I say constant aggression, I mean CONSTANT! He couldn’t even talk like a normal person!
And as a kid I absolutely LOVED it!
Back then you were either a Hogan fan or a Warrior fan, and I always marked for the Warrior. Oh sure, Hogan was all well and good, talking about taking vitamins and saying prayers, but WARRIOR talked about COMBAT! SPACE SHIPS! EXPLOSIONS! GODS OF WAR! NIGHTMARES ARE THE BEST PART OF HIS DAY! HELL YEAH! Again, at that age I ate it all up. He was like a cartoon or comic book character that somehow crossed over into the real world… hmm… interesting… better keep that in mind as we get down to it and talk about WARRIOR the comic.
Now this comic is considered one of the worst of all time for a lot of reasons such as:
– Nonsensical Story Telling
– Terrible Art Work
– The dialogue is an incoherent mess
– There’s really only one major character, no antagonist or supporting characters
Now yes, I am a HUGE fan of both Linkara and Spoony of “ThatGuyWiththeGlasses” fame (www.thatguywiththeglasses.com) both of which bashed Warrior pretty good in their reviews. Don’t get me wrong, their reviews were mostly correct (and really hilarious, I really can’t say enough about how awesome they both are) but I feel like I should explain to those who haven’t picked up this comic why someone like me actually enjoys it.
Granted, the art is pretty bad, but it kinda works. Look, the Ultimate Warrior was an over-the-top personality, and the over-the-top style of Jim Callahan really sorta compliments that. I think Warrior realized that too, and that’s why he praised him so much in the first two issues.
Hm, “My friend” …”you get it”… your work is “perfection…. nobody could have come close.” Wow! That’s some pretty big praise indeed!
So it is a bit odd then to see an ad asking for a new artist in issue three. I thought Callahan’s work was “standard setting”
And yes, I'll admit it. Warrior REALLY needed an editor to check his grammar
And in issue 4 Warrior dedicates four pages to talking about his fallout with Callahan in a section titled “Callahan is a piece of shit.”
In short, Warrior claims that Callahan was shorting him on work and also was trying to backout, mid-project, claiming that the Warrior comic went against his faith system as a born-again Christian. I have no idea why, but it seems like Warrior and born-agains really don’t get a long at all. Callahan, Dibiase, Michaels, and so on… all of which Warrior has plenty of hate for. Oh, and I didn’t do anything to that picture, the text is REALLY hard to read.
So while I will concede that the art is pretty bad, I disagree that the comic is a complete mess. The story is actually very positive and original. Sure Warrior could have done a bread-and-butter superhero story, but he didn’t. He put every idea he has ever had about his character into these pages.
The point of this comic is that it is supposed to be about conquering one’s greatest nemesis – oneself. According to Warrior, everyone has a destiny that they must fulfill. They face countless trials, and few ever achieve that ideal. This is what Warrior means by Destructiy – the Truce between one’s destiny and reality. A Warrior knows what it means to live in reality and not try to escape it, but at the same time will never surrender nor compromise one’s own ideals, but rather do whatever it takes to achieve their own destiny.
The comic is meant as a metaphor for this struggle. Once you understand that, then the story makes a lot more sense. Er, also keep in mind that the comic was originally meant for 6 issues but only 4 (not including the infamous xmas issue) saw print. This was due to the books’ declining sales, and difficulties with both the WWF and Jim Callahan probably contributed to this. Wrestling fans will remember that when this comic came out, it was during Warrior’s VERY BRIEF run in the WWF in 1996 that resulted in Warrior telling Vince McMahon to F himself before leaving the company. Also during that time Warrior’s father passed away and he was struggling to maintain a wrestling school – Warrior University.
And so, ring the damned bell, let’s get this started:
Issue 1 opens with Warrior in a coma, but while his physical body is incapacitated his spirit undergoes a heavily symbolic struggle to become a true Warrior. It should be noted that Warrior’s father appears here and gives him the strength to continue his quest. This is pretty touching especially since, in real life, Warrior and his dad had a falling out and haven’t talked in years. It wasn’t until he passed away that it really seemed to hit him.
The spirit of the Warrior is in the Galaxy of Destrucity (it’s a metaphor for what Destrucity really is) and within this Galaxy is the Terrain of Testament, upon which the Warrior is being tested to become the perfect Warrior. Once he has finished his challenges, he can return and be the ideal Warrior back in the real world. Now the Galaxy of Destructiy, in this comic, appears to be another realm that one’s spirit can go to, and not something that one can take a space ship to. However this is just what I assume and, admittedly, it is pretty unclear just where this is. Perhaps if the comic was finished it would have been made more clear.
Issue 1 ends with this cryptic page:
This guy doesn’t appear again until issue 4. However, since the 4th issue was only available through Warrior himself and not comic stores, few people ever got to read it. So there was a lot of confusion as to who the heck this random guy is. The text does drop a few hints though, especially his one line of dialogue “Believe This,” which is a reference to Warrior’s own catchphrase (both in real life and in this comic) “Always Believe.”
See? It’s not THAT confusing, now onto issue 2 and 3.
Ugh that cover. I know I tried to defend Callahan’s over-the-top art before but I HATE when artists try to draw tight clothes just by coloring in certain body parts differently. And I don’t even want to know what’s going on with his arms.
Anyway, in issue 2 a fireball from space whizzes in from space, down to the Earth and collides with the Warrior’s body, animating him with someone else’s spirit. This is our villain… Warrior, but not quite. There are some days when my greatest nemesis is myself, especially when I’m not really feeling like myself. For the Warrior, one of the worst things a person can do is to waver from who they really are. When is not true to oneself… well bad things happen. And of course, a lot of really bad things happen in the comic (Snarky-self: Yeah, no shit) from this, but more on that later.
Meanwhile Warrior’s spirit continues to be tested on the Terrain of Testament. In issue 2, Warrior conquers his inner beast and overtakes his inner weakness… he’s almost there.
For the most part the challenges DO make sense… and then this happens in Issue 3
In the Terrain of Testament a passenger plane goes down in a fiery wreck (also notice the dig against born again Christians by the pilot.) Warrior runs over to help but the spirit-guides in his tassels that he obtained in the first issue urge him not to get involved. He rips apart the metal with his bare hands, but when he realizes all hope is lost, he runs for it as the plane explodes behind him. The reader is then assaulted with a mass of dialogue trying to explain what just just happened…
This whole thing is pretty confusing. This was meant as a test for Warrior, to see if he would/wouldn’t sacrifice his reason in the face of tragedy, and he didn’t. However when this kind of thing happens in a comic you sorta expect the hero to, you know, do something HEROIC and not run. Granted there wasn’t much he could have done, and he almost helped but still… it’s kinda a let down. Also were the people real or, since it was a test, was it an illusion? This is never made clear unfortunately.
The spirit of Warrior continues his journey until he comes to “Parts Unknown” which, in layman’s terms, is the part in all of us that gives us our individual drive.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the fake Warrior blows off his fans and ditches his girlfriend. Issue 3 ends with the fake Warrior beating to death a few thugs in a bar. It would seem that the fake Warrior is well… a jerk. He’s unfiltered aggression, and probably what the Ultimate Warrior would be like if he was ever a heel. Also notice the N.W.O and Hulk Hogan reference here… This was written before Warrior’s WCW stint, but it’s still pretty funny.
So it ends with fake Warrior starting his killing spree, and Real Warrior entering Parts Unknown… and Jim Callahan getting the sack as evidenced by Warrior #4’s new art style.
It'd seem the man in charge of colors, J.D. Smith was also sacked... HOKOGAN!
Your ordinary Warrior fan would pick this up and think “Hm, black and white? Oh well, it can’t look THAT bad. It actually might look pretty cool!” Then they open to the very first page…
Yikes! I remember cracking this comic open for the first time and not even noticing the text on this page – it’s that unreadable.
Anyway, on with the actual comic. The real Warrior has entered Parts Unknown, and it would seem his challenges are finally complete. However, if he were still unconscious, Parts Unknown would be desolate, however it is quite active! This can only mean that Warrior’s body is active in the real world.
Meanwhile, the fake Warrior begins an insane killing spree that spans the globe. Even the Pope (no, not the one from TNA) is not safe! Here you can see what Warrior (the guy writing all of this) thought of the WWF. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that this was written after Warrior’s falling-out with the company.
Not naming any names, but when a wrestler DOES flip out and commit murder, it doesn't go in WWF Magazine.. or anything WWF/WWE related for that matter
The killing and carnage continue in a truck stop. Here Warrior beats to death a bunch of truckers. At one point he actually rips right through a truck, as it’s going, to kill the driver! In the mayhem, Vince McMahaon’s ego, Titan Sports (the company that owned WWF, before they changed their name – left truck) and Sega Saturn (right truck) are not spared!
"BAH GAWD KING! THROUGH HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE WARRIOR IS BURNING SOME BRIDGES!!"
The issue wraps up with the Real Warrior, being able to watch what’s happening from Parts Unknown, heading back for reality to destroy the fake Warrior. And we get to see who’s been possessing Warrior’s body this whole time, the guy that appeared all the way back in issue 1!
Aw, and I thought Vince McMahon was the "higher power"
And that’s it. The comic stopped right after this issue, and personally I think that’s a shame. I really do want to know more about the guy that’s been possessing Warrior’s body this whole time, and I enjoyed the digs against WWF and the NWO, and would love it if Warrior wrapped up this comic with some WCW and TNA references… seriously!
The last page of Warrior #4... Still waiting for #5!!
So after all of that, what do I have left to say? Yeah, the art’s bad, grammar is pretty terrible, and the action is very over-the-top, but at its heart is a message of staying true to oneself. While the execution was a bit flawed, it was a comic that sought to do things differently. Whether you like it (me) or HATE it (everyone else), you will never be bored with it. It’s a nice pickup for any old school wrestling fan for it gives a good look into the character of the Ultimate Warrior. Unlike other pro wrestling characters, Warrior’s character was always pretty open and vague, and this was a rare attempt to give him some more substance.
Besides, if it’s one thing that playing a Malkavian has taught me, it’s no fun pretending to be sane all of the time… HOKOGAN!