Sunday Morning Paperback Adam Warlock: The Cosmic Messiah
Welcome to another installment of MMP a series that focuses on highly recommended Comic Trade Paperbacks be it physical or nowadays, digital thanks to Amazon's Kindle store and Comixology.
In honor of Easter, this segment is dedicated to an old favorite of mine, who in many ways, symbolic to a cosmic Jesus, but with angst! I give you, Jim Starlin's Warlock The Complete Collection!
Originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Adam Warlock previously known as "Him" was artificially created by a cabal of scientists whose intentions were to create an super godlike being, merely for their own selfish purposes, like say world conquest?
Warlock or rather "Him" quickly realizes their misdeeds and destroys the scientists along with their compound known as The Hive.
Fast forward a few years later, the character appears in his very own comic titled Warlock of course.
Although the Gil Kane run had interesting concepts that laid the groundwork for Warlock (I.e. High Evolutionary, gene splicing and of course, an unintentional parody of Jesus Christ-Superstar.) It’s interesting to note how Warlock's original costume design, was inspired by the DC Character Captain Marvel, now referred to as SHAZAM.
Fresh from his stint on Captain Marvel which ended abruptly due to disputes between him and Marvel, writer and artist Jim Starlin was given an opportunity to revive any Marvel character of his choice, and for some bizarre reason he went with Warlock and I’m glad he did.
Starlin not only revived a less than established character like Warlock but redefined his mythos into new heights as high as the stars itself!
Based on Jim's stint from Marvel's Strange Tales 178-181 during 1975-1976 and so forth, The main feature of Adam Warlock's storlyline, pits him against a powerful adversary known as the Magus, a God like figurehead of what's called The Universal Church if Truth as well as a few other adversaries.
The story begins with Adam wandering through space, only to witness a woman being pursued by three strange alien hunters who has her targeted for extermination for going against the spiritual empire. Despite Adam's heroic intervention, all hope of protecting her lies in vain as she is killed by one of the assailants.
Adam uses his soul gem to gather information from the deceased girl who was intentionally seeking his aid. He soon learns about the corruption within the Church of Truth and the Magus, thus leading him toward a quest to find and stop the Universal Church to the extent of making slight as alterations on his wardrobe for the sake of anonymity.
The cape with skull motifs adds a more distinctive and dramatic design of the character, giving a natural progression from artist Gil Kane's amazing look.
One of the reasons why this arc is so intriguing, is the unapologetic allegories. i.e. how power corrupts absolute, especially when it pertains to organized denominations, who abuse their power to control or destroy, the revelation of Magus as Adam Warlock's future self, is an underlying commentary of paranoid schizophrenia, where forming an alternate persona is used as a coping mechanism after experiencing a traumatic experience.
By glimpsing into the future, Warlock witnesses how he became the Magus, who deemed his life a failure and allowed himself to be destroyed and yet reborn as a fanatical purple hued demagogue, evolving into something far worse!
The Magus saga was influential long before the revised origin of DC's Joker courtesy of Alan Moore’s Killing Joke, as in what makes one into a monster.As if dealing with the Magus was bad enough, Adam to his dismay, must contend with his soul gem having vampiric tendencies!
This book is also noted for the introduction of sidekick comedy relief, Pip the Troll and most important, Gamora, the deadliest woman in the galaxy! this femme fatale, is not only a cunning skilled assassin, but holds a dirty little secret, like who employs her.
The Warlock collection is full of memorable highlights, be it Adam's slow decent into madness, him taking on an army of 1,000 Black Knight soldiers, the Star Thief arc, an unholy alliance with a certain purple hued death worshipper who eventually will play a major foil in succeeding issues and to top things off, the foreshadowing revelation about his own demise that would take place in the final storyline within the book.
This comic is where both the character and Jim Starlin were really on top of his game! If the plot and characterization doesn't gravitate you toward this series, Starlin's impressive artwork accompanied by Steve Leiahola's inking, will definitely sink you in!
Jim Starlin's opus is space opera before the likes of Star Wars! Trippy Science fiction prior to Heavy Metal magazine! The stories are nihilistic, and groundbreaking and the overall aesthetics are way ahead of its time especially when you factor in how the issues were conceived during the early seventies. The entire collection is a true masterpiece full of bizarre suspense, action, beautiful scenery, poetic yet Machiavellian, like some Greek tragedy.
Adam Warlock may not have made his grand entrance on the silver screen, (Thanks for nothing, James Gunn and Kevin Feige!) but I am more than content to own this brilliant comic that is practically a cinematic experience within itself.
Thank you, Jim.