Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Arion, Lord of Atlantis

Throughout the 1970s and into the '80s, DC Comics made multiple attempts to take advantage of the growing popularity of the genre. Of all the comic titles the company published during this time, The Warlord, about which I talked last week, was by far and away the most successful. The Warlord ran for 133 issues plus six annuals over the course of twelve years – a considerable feat in a genre littered with innumerable failures. So successful was The Warlord that DC used it as a platform from which to launch additional fantasy titles, an example of which is Arion, Lord of Atlantis, which began its existence as a back-up feature in issue #55 (March 1982) of that comic.

Arion takes place during an age of magic that preceded the Ice Age.

As the Ice Age overtakes the world, destroying ancient civilization after ancient civilization, Atlantis finds its own stability sorely threatened. Refugees from these other civilizations have fled before the encroaching ice, as have the barbaric cavemen who now seek to take Atlantis by force. Arion is the Lord High Mage and it falls to him to use his sorcery to protect his city. The story begins with Arion exhausted and feeling alone and isolated. His master, Caculha, is dead and his king and the other nobles of Atlantis are, in his opinion, fools. Retiring to his chambers, he is called upon by Lady Chian, Captain of the Royal Guard.
Despite his rude treatment of her, it's clear that Chian loves Arion and wishes only to aid him in his labors. Like a petulant teenager, however, Arion feels ill-used and under-appreciated. There is some truth to his feelings. Atlantis does depend upon him for its very survival and there is no one else in the city who can truly help him. At the same time, the Atlanteans are grateful for his work on their behalf and would gladly do whatever they can to to ease his burdens.

Later, the king asks Arion to read the Oracle of Choloh to seek guidance. Arion complies and, while doing so, is shocked to make contact with the spirit of his master, who speaks to him cryptically of his destiny.
Arion retires to his chambers once more – he does that a lot – to contemplate the meaning of what his master's spirit had told him. But he cannot do that long before the dinosaurs Atlantis keeps in its zoos – yes, you read that correctly – escape and run rampant throughout the city. Arion is called upon to deal with the problem, but finds that his magic has left him. He is unable to command any spells and is forced, alongside the Royal Guard to fight the dinosaurs using only his sword.
This first installment ends with Arion deciding that he needs to seek out the destiny of which Master Caculha's spirit spoke. Perhaps the departure of his magic is tied to this destiny and, if so, he has no choice but leave Atlantis and find it. Arion, Lord of Atlantis would appear in the next eight issues of The Warlord, after which it received its own series, which itself ran for 35 issues. 

I don't think Arion is quite as successful in its aims as was The Warlord. Partly, it's because Arion is himself a somewhat unsympathetic character – a stand-offish, arrogant, and self-absorbed jerk – like Elric but far less compelling. On the other hand, his quest to restore his magic has definite potential as a framing device for his subsequent adventures and the antediluvian world of Atlantis is mythically potent one. All in all, it's not a terrible comic, though it's not as enjoyable as other fantasy comics of the same era.  


  1. Hi, first comment here. I tried with Arion some years ago and it was impossible: the script was so awful and uninteresting that I left the book after somes issues.

  2. This character got a lot of focus in the 80s. He was even included in Crisis on Infinite Earths (but to be fair so were almost every DC character 😅).

  3. I think it’s fair to call this guy an Elric knockoff. On top of being the brooding wizard-warrior-king of a decadent doomed kingdom surrounded by hostile barbarians, the one issue I owned in my youth featured him wandering the land with his companions and trying to resist the dark pull of a magical sword that urged him to bloodlust. I was into it at the time (age nine or ten maybe?), but of course I’d never read Moorcock. Seems a bit too on the nose in retrospect.

  4. I wonder if Richard Baker & the Primeval Thule guys read this?

  5. I'm someone who has lived a life seemingly in the background, I must say this final indignity I have suffered almost too much to endure. You see, I have been sickly and weak since the day I was born and doomed to go through all my life a weakling. I seemed to have always suffered from one illness or another and could never play with the other children as I so desperately wanted to. Mother always made such a big fuss over me, also, making the situation worse as the other boys teased me mercilessly after they saw it. I was browsing  the internet searching on how i could be transformed into a powerful when i came across the email of a man named Lord Mark. who was a VAMPIRE so I told him that I has always dreamed of becoming a  VAMPIRES, All i did was just to follow the procedure that i was been told, and i bet you that procedure I took change my entire life to something i ever desire, freedom, sickness free, pains free, fame, influence, connections and even more that i can. Thanks to Lord Mark. Do you want a life full of interesting things? Do you want to have power and influence over others? To be charming and desirable? To have wealth, health, and longevity? contact the vampires creed today via email:

  6. Yes! Atlantis needs more vampires!