The Atlas (Seaboard) line of comic books was introduced in 1975. By 1976, the line had vanished. (The line was briefly 'revived' in 2011; this post does not address that incarnation.) Most of the books were forgettable, but a few had potential – at least at the beginning of the Atlas endeavor. One of those few was Wulf the Barbarian. Certainly, it had its share of clichés and tropes, but it is not unworthy of consideration.
According to the first Atlas bullpen page, “[T]he saga of WULF THE BARBARIAN is set on a planet the size of which is beyond mortal comprehension.” This aspect of the setting is never addressed in any of the four published issues of Wulf, neither is mentioned the name of the planet. In the third installment, a map is provided; named simply 'The World of Wulf the Barabarian.'
|The map as shown in WULF THE BARBARIAN #3|
|The same map, altered for legibility|
Wulf is a Northern barbarian who goes on adventures in the lands to the South. That part may sound familiar, but Wulf is really the heir to a kingdom. Very well, that part probably sounds familiar too; however, after he witnesses the murder of his parents, he is raised by a family retainer and dedicates himself to vengeance. Yeah, OK, that part is not exactly original either. The thing is, Wulf's ultimate goal is to defeat the evil wizard who has deprived him of his rightful domain... Look, not everything can be original, it's how the concepts mesh together that's important.
|Balik, the Eye of Mordek|
These were men of wealth and power...one was Melekantis, a vain man motivated by pride...The other was Rasselas, whose only love was power, a bitter man driven by greed...Their animosity blossomed into violence and both men had armed gangs of hired thugs clashing in the alleyways...Some thought a stalemate had been reached but Rasselas dabbled in sorcery! And he called forth a Nameless Thing to slay Melekantis! But the very powers he unleashed had driven Rasselas over the boundaries [of] sanity! And in his madness, he delved deeper into his sorcery...'twas Rasselas' magic what emptied the wells of Rama-Kesh...and loosed strange gibbering creatures upon the nighted streets.Like any party of player characters worth their salt, our protagonists resolve to surreptitiously enter Rasselas' lair and – in Wulf's words – thrust “a yard of cold steel in Rasselas' gut.” However, once they gain entry to the palace, our heroes find that the sorcerer's madness has warped the interior into an Escher-esque labyrinth. Yes, the characters prevail and evil is defeated, but not until Wulf exclaims “Blood and Iron!” two more times and one of the characters dies in a noble sacrifice.
|...A Sorcerous Manifestation of Rasselas' Insanity!|