Friday, 9 April 2010

Adam Warlock. Strange Tales #181. It's all turned out mad again.

Adam Warlock, Strange Tales #181, Jim StarlinWas there ever anybody less suited to having his own super hero comic than Adam Warlock?

Yes there was.

Me.

...

...

...

And George Formby.

Admittedly Adam Warlock had a bit more power than me and George but, being more than a man, he was also less than human. When introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four #66, he was the living embodiment of the Jack Kirby, "Concept Is Everything," approach to comics, a character with no personality, no goals, no needs, no friends, no history and, apart from total a lack of life experience, no flaws. He didn't even have a name, being introduced to us merely as Him. On top of that, he was so powerful that, like the early Silver Surfer, he could basically do anything he wanted.

So, a hero who's basically an empty shell and all-powerful. If anyone thinks they can get good drama out of that they're nothing if not optimists.

Clearly Marvel were nothing if not optimists and so he got his own strip in which he ventured to Counter-Earth to fight the naughty Man-Beast who'd corrupted it. While that strip grabbed me initially, it soon ran out of steam as they bashed you over the head with the, "He's Jesus," stuff and even had him crucified and resurrected.

Happily, by then, he'd lost his own book and had to do his resurrecting in the pages of the Incredible Hulk.

I say happily because it's hard to see how such a storyline could possibly have worked if he'd been the star of the comic it happened in instead of a guest in someone else's.

But, as somebody else once proved, you can't keep a good Messiah down and so it was that Jim Starlin brought him back.

I can't say how much I loved Starlin's take on the character but, when I first got this - Strange Tales #181 - and saw the new Adam Warlock, I was hooked. With Warlock's tendency to stand around debating philosophical and metaphysical points with himself, he had a touch of the Don McGregor Killraven stories that I reviewed a bit back, aiming at something more than just the usual super-heroics.

The difference being that Jim Starlin was an artist as well as a writer and so wasn't going to let the words get in the way of the pictures.

Was Starlin an artist who wrote or a writer who drew? It was impossible to say. Unlike most who attempt the creative double, he seemed equally adept at both. This issue is a perfect example as our hero finds himself in a landscape so inspired by Steve Ditko's Dr Strange you wouldn't be surprised to see Dormammu show up.

Adam Warlock, Strange Tales #181, Jim StarlinInstead, a bunch of clowns show up.

They're not meant to be clowns. They're supposed to be heroes of the Magus' religion, there to convert Warlock to the cause but Warlock's mind-set warps his vision of them so much they appear to him as clowns. Either this is a sign of his iron will resisting indoctrination or proof that he's actually a bit bonkers.

I like to think the latter.

And clearly, so did Starlin because at, the climax, the enemy of the piece, the Magus shows up; a purple, future version of Warlock with a huge Afro. He looks terrible but conceptually he was a perfect foil for our hero. In the end, other heroes had to fight other people. Unlike me and George Formby, Warlock had to fight himself.

2 comments:

Simon July said...

Interesting observations: Warlock,Killraven,Deathlock were my introductions to Marvel and of course the perennial sword slinger Conan and 46years later they have never been beaten [ all early versions ]

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Simon. Warlock really was great in this era.

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