Today’s comics flashback — the early 80s Swords and Sorcery comic from DC, Arion: Lord of Atlantis. At least that’s what the first year or so is called, but looking at the later covers, maybe it’s just Arion?
(That could have been a story element… I think he was wandering for a bit, was he stripped of his title? Someone tell me — unless I dig up the issues first.)
When I was a kid I LOVED the genre of epic fantasy. I blame it on The Hobbit being the first novel I actually remember reading in the third grade. After that it was everything with swords and wizards and dragons and elves.
Arion was written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Jan Duursema, and it focused on the ancient past of Atlantis before it sunk into the ocean (and eventually spawned Aquaman, though I’m not sure if that was tied into the concept right from its inception). Arion was the magical protector of Atlantis—a powerful mage, though on some adventures he was forced to be a bit more physical.
When I look back lovingly on these covers, it occurs to me that I don’t really remember the stories, but more of the look and feel of the book. I think this is where comics and fantasy work well together—at least as I came to them as a kid. The physicality of medieval action and magic presented by an artist in a way that movie special effects just weren’t able to capture at the time. I specifically picked THESE covers because they show one of the favorite things I remember about this series—Arion didn’t so much have a costume as a certain color scheme and certain common accouterments. In those covers, you can see a winter outfit, a chainmail outfit, and a pirate outfit. I remember drawing elements of each of those costumes… that was part of what reading comics as a kid was about for me… absorbing the visuals and trying to build my own characters and stories with them.
I don’t think Arion has ever been collected. I recently found the first sixteen issues in a dollar bin at a comics convention, even though I think I have most of the early issues somewhere in storage. I read a chunk of the first sixteen, and it’s definitely clunky, early 80s comics writing, but… there’s something charming and fun in the world and the action-packed fantasy of it all.