Monday Morning Paperback, Issue 1 – Adam Warlock: The Cosmic Messiah Monday Morning Paperback, Issue 1 – Adam Warlock: The Cosmic Messiah
Welcome to my first installment of MMP, a series that focuses on highly recommended comic trade paperbacks, be it print or nowadays, digital. My... Monday Morning Paperback, Issue 1 – Adam Warlock: The Cosmic Messiah

Welcome to my first installment of MMP, a series that focuses on highly recommended comic trade paperbacks, be it print or nowadays, digital.

My pick for this segment goes to an absolute favorite of mine- Warlock The Complete collection!

  • Ever wondered where Gamora made her very first appearance?
  • Thanos at his most menacing?
  • Or what about those Infinity gems?
  • The first Space Opera pulp that preceded both Heavy Metal magazine and Star Wars?

Well, what the hell are you waiting for?  Grab this Book!

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Adam Warlock, previously known as “Him”, made his debut in “The Fantastic Four” #66-67 (Sept.-Oct. 1967)  Warlock was created by a cabal of scientists who intended to create an artificial being, merely for their own purposes. Warlock, or rather “Him”, quickly realizes their evil intentions and destroys the scientists along with their compound known as The Hive.

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Fast forward a few years later in which the character appears in his very own comic titled The Power of Warlock. In this short span of eight issues, Warlock is developed as this great Messiah who pits himself against a “Fallen Angel” called The Man-Beast while trying to persuade The High Evolutionary not to destroy mankind. Although the Roy Thomas and Gil Kane run had interesting concepts when establishing Warlock (I.e. Darwinism, gene splicing and of course, that allegory of Jesus Christ-Superstar), it wasn’t as compelling as Jim Starlin’s cosmic opus, but a decent series nonetheless.

Now you know: The red and gold motifs-especially the lighting bolt on Warlock's tunic was an homage to DC's Captain Marvel.

Now you know: The red and gold motifs-especially the lighting bolt on Warlock’s tunic was an homage to DC’s Captain Marvel.

 

“I had basically taken Captain Marvel, a warrior, and turned him into sort of a messiah-type character. So when I got to Warlock, I said to myself, ‘I got a messiah right here to start off with; where do I go from there?’ And I decided a paranoid schizophrenic was the route to take”.

-Jim Starlin discussed his approach in regard to Warlock’s revival.

Fresh from his stint off Captain Marvel, Starlin had reinvented a very obscure character like Warlock into one of the most groundbreaking space opera comics ever! Jim laid the groundwork of trippy and pulp science fiction that is often utilized to this very day. Here we have this reluctant, yet tragic Hero who is not only faced with galactic despots, Death worshippers and Star Thieves but also struggles against his inner demons.

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Based on his stint from Marvel’s Strange Tales #178-181 Warlock’s story arc “The Magus Saga” pits the mysterious protagonist against a powerful adversary known as the Magus, a corrupt, godlike figurehead of  a religious cult fellowship called “The Universal Church of Truth”.

Space opera or rock opera? Regardless, the Magus saga delivers and then some!

Space opera or rock opera? Regardless, the Magus saga delivers and then some!

 

What makes this antagonist so defining is that the Magus is actually Adam Warlock’s future self as he would discover in the following issues (…well, the big hint was that Magus’ outfit is very similar to Adam’s. Duh!).  Magus utilizes his ungodly machinations to the extent of manipulating Adam in order to secure his rule as the evil emperor of The Universal Church. i.e., Adam using his vampire-like “Soul Gem” to eliminate Magus’ army of 1000 Black Knights, thus drawing our protagonist further into the dark side.

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Warlock travels to the outreaches of some parallel continuum in which he will become the tyrannical despot (Magus). After witnessing this event, it’s apparent that Adam must destroy the timeline that will allow the Magus to exist. And in order to do this, he must kill a future version of himself.

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This was a just another poignant moment the Adam Warlock of the future deemed his life a failure and allows himself to “welcome death as a friend”. What made this scene so special is that Starlin used it as a template for future storylines as witnessed in Marvel’s “Two in One” as Adam with the assistance of the Avengers attempts to thwart Thanos’ grand scheme. It has to be said that both Avengers Annual 7 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual 2 had set the precedent for “The Infinity War”- series of the 90s that was so popular, that Videogame giant-Capcom had developed two games based on the comics and needless to say, that it will be made into future installments of the Avengers Films.

This book is fascinating for a number of reasons outside of what I had previously listed. It’s an uncompromising attack on organized religion and how man can pervert spirituality. There are a few allegories aside from religion, of how the seduction of power  can corrupt absolutely. (Cites the Bak & Grak anecdote told by Adam.)  There is drama,  dark comedy, pathos, fantasy  and crucial storytelling that is similar to Heavy Metal Magazine however, these issues debuted years before Heavy Metal. I love how Starlin’s arc  defined Warlock as this tragic hero and who like Christ, had sacrificed himself in order to be mankind’s savior.

Thanos learns the hard way that payback can be a real Bitch!

Thanos learns the hard way that payback can be a real Bitch!

 

The value of these stories were immensely high, especially prior to the character or shall I say “characters” being brought back to life. I foolishly had taken their deaths very seriously without realizing that with Marvel, no one stays dead forever. Maybe except Uncle Ben (for now).

This is why I never really bothered to read much of Warlock post 70s and despite Starling bring him back to life, I’m certain that it was Marvel’s doing. The saga was great as it was, a fantastic blend of Cosmic Opera with Greek Tragedy thrown in for good measure. This is the Warlock I value the most.

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The art still holds up to this very day and is perhaps Jim’s best work thanks to mind bending aesthetics and Steve Leiohla’s incredible inks. I often wondered if Starlin was smoking weed while listening to Ziggy Stardust’s music that may have served as inspiration for his work on these issues back in the 70’s.

Far-fetched, maybe but if I should ever have the fortune to run into him at the next NYCCC, I’ll most certainly ask!

Jim Starlin’s incredible run on Warlock had boldly gone where no comic has gone before.

A must read and an essential part of any comic reader’s collection!

You can also find these exciting issues available for digital distribution by clicking the green picture below!

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Stalks, out!

Author Image

Stalkeye

Stalkeye= anagram of Stalker and Snake Eyes. Satirist, Gamer, Artist and Pop Culture commentator- Stalks offers his outspoken views on on most things Geek related as well as WTF is wrong with the world today!

  • I_am_better

    Hey, cool history lesson. Great artwork.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Excellent summary. I hope you do more of these, especially for the more obscure Marvel characters.

  • KilliK

    Great article. Warlock is one of the coolest characters in the MU and one of my favs. His complicated relationship with Thanos is what makes their cosmic adventures some of the best comicbook stories.

    But I do have this bad feeling that his character will be completely ignored in the MCU, I havent heard any mention from Gunn that he ll be included in GOTG2, and if this happens, then Marvel will fuck up the movie Thanos even more. You cant have Thanos without Warlock, it will be like Vader without Kenobi.

  • Bop

    Before people started scanning comics and before the time of paypal and paying through the computer became affordable I was hunting for Avengers annual 7. If I found one on a convention the seller was always a bastard who wanted gold for it. I never got my hand on it, but I did grab that 6 issue Warlock reprint later on so I finally got to read Avengers annual 7. Starlin made a lot of good stuff and I will be damned if he didn’t make the funniest Impossible Man story ever (Silver Surfer vol 3 issue 36)

  • Stalkeye

    I think without the appearance of Warlock for GOTG and especially the upcoming Infinity War films would be a travesty indeed. And Marvel will get an ea ful from me and others who are aware that Adam is tantamount to the Infinity Gems storyline. Starlin my protest in silence but at the end of the day, he wants to get paid for his contributions.

    Thanos without Warlock, it will be like Vader without Kenobi.”

    Upvote plus ten!!

  • Stalkeye

    Thanks, T! Funny how the more obscure characters are just as interesting if not more cooler than the 1st tier characters. I tend to gravitate to guys like Warlock, Deathlok, Moon Knight, OMAC, etc because of their unique concepts and executions.

  • Stalkeye

    Thanks, Kim! While battling the evil forces of a common cold XD, I laid in bed Re-reading this trade and both art and stories holds up tremendously!!
    The Star Thief arc is one of the best issues I have read from this book.
    Imagine, a Man stripped of all senses since birth only to use 90% of the human brain giving him the power to enact revenge on Mankind for spending billions of dollars on wars as opposed to finding a cure for his ailment.
    This is practically a critique of the United States government who would fund wars instead of AIDS or Cancer research. Even back then Jim called it!

  • Stalkeye

    As a teen during the mid to late 80’s I had fond memories of reading the reprints (Warlock: Special Edition) while listening to music that reflected comic’s “out there” scope. (Billy Idol’s “Eyes without a face or Bowie’s “Life on Mars” & “Rock & Roll suicide”.) I didnt get around to that Impossible man story but there was an issue of SS that really pissed me off! Captain Marvel being “in the land of the dead” was ridiculous!!

  • Stalkeye

    <–Proud owner of this magnificent Book! (0=

  • I_am_better

    And a kickass mug too

  • Dee

    Good stuff. Never heard about this.

  • Stalkeye

    Thanks, Bro! I snagged it from Universal Studios along with a Kirby Cap mug! These were among my favorite souvenirs while vacationing in Florida.

  • Stalkeye

    Oh, if you’re into trippy sci fi, I strongly recommend this book!
    This was Jim Starlin’s Magnum opus indeed.

  • Jack Randomm

    Great read, Stalks. I will admit to having an extreme dislike for everything Starlin related. No, correction…I fucking hate everything Starlin related. I hate his plots, storytelling,characters, dialog, and art.

    Good article, though!

  • Stalkeye

    Thanks, my brotha!

    But what’s this? How DARE you hate the great works of Jim Starlin! This is heresy I say! 😛 Well, since your first expose to comics like mine, were a Captain America Comic and the fact that GI Joe inspired you to serve within the armed forces, I shall not revoke your Geek Pass. XD

    But all kidding aside Jackie, I thought his writing was slightly ahead of its time. What’s interesting is the unintentional allegory of Magus’ Universal of Truth slaughtering all non believers. (I.e. Extreme Muslim culture and “Honor” killings.)

    Starlin’s writing had such a great impact, that I actually felt Adam’s suffering and loss and was depressed after reading the excellent “Death of Captain Marvel”. A good friend of mine whose Mother passed from Cancer can never bring himself to read the first Graphic Novel to this very day.

    However as far as Dreadstar is concerned, yes its a weak homage to his Warlock opus. That I agree with you.

  • Stalkeye

    A day after my article was posted on SN, this came out…!

  • Stalkeye

    I made this 3 years ago! (Soul Calibur V)

  • Stalkeye

    and this!

  • Jack Randomm

    Hahaha! I can’t help it! These stories turned me off in the 8th grade, and no matter how many times I revisit them, I can’t get into em. I don’t even like what other creators have done with the characters! I cheered when Moondragon recently died! I like “stupid Drax” from the movie, but that’s it as far as Starlin characters.

    Also, he draws his male heroes with long torsos. Extended rib cages and 12-packs. Ugh.

  • Stalkeye

    Ouch! Well, I guess he’s not for everyone. XD XD

    Anyway as a consolation.. [img]http://i.imgur.com/YTgXtY5.gif[/img]

  • Stalkeye

    Did someone say..”Moondragon”? 😛