Friday, 22 June 2012

Marvel Premiere #1. The Power of Warlock

Marvel Premiere #1, Adam Warlock stands looking dramatic as Thor and the Hulk look on, cover by Gil Kane
Despite what everyone might think, I couldn't claim I have a lot in common with Adam Warlock. For a start - my local tanning centre having shut down - I don't have gold skin. I can't fly. And, to my knowledge, I wasn't born from within a maggot-like cocoon.

I do of course have a gem embedded in my forehead, with which I can drain the souls from all living beings but I so rarely get to use it these days and fear it may be driving me mad.

More importantly, unlike Adam Warlock, I don't have a Jesus complex.

As far as I can recall, I first came across the character in the pages of Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic and was instantly impressed. In his rather stylish outfit, I knew at once he was my kind of hero.

Marvel Premiere #1, the High Evolutionary and Sir Raam discover the cocoon of Adam Warlock, Gil Kane
Not my kind of hero is the High Evolutionary who really is the biggest pillock this side of Odin. Showing a remarkable inability to learn from his previous mistakes, he's back and he's decided it's not enough to repeat his earlier error of creating a race of new men by super-evolving animals.

No.

Now he wants to create an entirely new planet, one where everyone's nice to each other.

So, on the far side of the sun, he does just that. And, just like all his other experiments, it all goes disastrously wrong, as his creations all start to kill each other.

Marvel Premiere #1, the Man-Wolf corrupts counter-Earth, Gil Kane
Granted, they don't do this off their own bat, they do it at the prompting of his earlier creation the evil Man-Wolf.

Not liking the look of any of this, and for no good reason at all, Warlock volunteers to go to this new Earth and sort out both it and the Man-Wolf.

Those with a keen eye for sledgehammer metaphor'll have noticed certain Biblical overtones to all this and, for this reason, writer Roy Thomas' religious connotations are way too heavy-handed for some of us. It's like being bashed over the head with a bible.

But who cares about writing? Words are for wimps. What matters in life are pictures. And the important thing about this tale is it's a perfect vehicle for the work of Gil Kane.

Marvel Premiere #1, Adam Warlock breaks free of his cocoon and reveals his new costume, Gil KaneMarvel Premiere #1, Thor vs Adam Warlock, Gil KaneIt's no secret that I'm a Gil Kane fan. I could look up his characters' noses - and at their clawed fingers - all day long. But even I can see that, with his strange ideas on human anatomy, he was better suited to some strips than others - and Warlock is a strip he seemed born to draw, giving free rein to his beautiful combination of action and elegance.

Whether drawing animals with men's head, near-gods in armour, gold-skinned men from cocoons, almighty great punch-ups or Kirbyesque machinery, Kane seems in his element here and I'd go so far as to say it's easily my favourite work I've ever seen by him.

We also get to see Warlock being given his infamous soul-gem by the High Evolutionary. Yep, there he is, making yet another blunder. The High Evolutionary just wasn't safe to be allowed out on his own.

And so, as Adam Warlock heads to Earth to deliver it from the forces of sinfulness, I think we can safely say that, when it came to the subject of drawing men with biblical overtones, Kane proved more than able.

1 comment:

Kid said...

I could never warm to Gil Kane's art, except when it was inked by Murphy Anderson or Joe Giella. His stuff always looked as if he was using 'stock' positions and layouts - almost as if he rubber-stamped it.

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