Saturday, December 5, 2015

Power Of Warlock - High Evolution!


Before Warlock there was The High Evolutionary. The Evolutionary appears for the first time in the pages of Thor, the recently rechristened Journey Into Mystery. Thor is wrapping up his encounter with the living planet Ego and the attempted confiscation of the Earth by Tana Nile and the Colonizers of Rigel.


Tana Nile had sent Jane Foster into an exile in which she found herself taking a teaching gig with two oddballs named Tagar and Porga in the a place called Wundagore. Thor follows her to this mysterious land and encounters the Knights of Wundagore abstride their Atomic Steeds.


Eventually he meets their leader the High Evolutionary who has created his "New Men" using various animals and subjecting them to genetic enhancement. While dealing with Thor the Evolutionary forgets an ongoing experiment with a wolf and before you know it a new threat is created when the Man-Beast rises.


Called "Super-Beast" on the cover, the Man-Beast is the ultimate fusion of  human intelligence and wolf cunning and ferocity and all of it amped up to the nth degree making him nearly the equal of the High Evolutionary himself.


The Man-Beast takes control of the equipment and creates his own species of "New Men" who attack Thor and the Knights of Wundagore. The threat is ended when the Man-Beast and his followers are rocketed into space to a distant planet to supposedly live out their new lives in safe isolation.


Soon thereafter the High Evolutionary thinks the better of his schemes on Earth and he too along with his Knights rocket into space as the very mountaintop retreat called Wundagore is revealed to be not just a mountaintop base, but also a massive spaceship.

Darkseid's Evil Factory from Jimmy Olsen #135

Genetics was an ongoing fascination for Jack Kirby. He revisited it in his "Fourth World" saga for DC in the pages of Jimmy Olsen by way of the DNA Project and its vile counterpart The Evil Factory run by Mokkari and Simyan. This is a technology which is arguably the most powerful in the human experience, even given the enormous potency of atomic weapons. The way that the human race might change in the coming centuries powered by genetics is difficult to fathom. And Kirby was on to that, ages before the Human Genome project mapped our inner selves decades ahead of schedule.


More next time.

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5 comments:

  1. The mix of science fiction with mythology was a real innovation at the time. Somehow it gave Thor a quasi-religious intensity new to comics, akin to what Michael Moorcock and, in short order. Roger Zelazny and other New Wave writers would do in novels.

    This was a tremendously expansive period for Thor. He had just fought the hordes of hell, met the Space Colonizers and Ego in the Black Galaxy and now met up with the People Breeders. When I first read this run decades ago my head exploded. Every issue. Kirby really knew how to create awesome vistas. And he was a master of dramatic staging: he delayed showing the faces of the New Men for several pages until the big reveal panel that you show above.

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    1. Thor bristled with creativity at this juncture, like the FF. The saga flowed over to DC and the Fourth World which is why I've always considered them disparate parts of the same sprawling saga, along with Captain Victory at Pacific. Kirby makes few bones about that actually.

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  2. The High Evolutionary looked much different when I saw him in FF issues circa #170. Guess it's just that no one draws quite like Kirby :)

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    1. Kirby's intent was to make him more inhuman, hidden behind an implacable mask. By the time of his later appearances he's lost that and they sort of give him a mask which molds to his face and shows emotion. I prefer the original.

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  3. I have fond memories of reading these tales in b&w in a British comic called Fantastic back in the '60s. I thought Colletta's inks really suited Kirby's pencils at this point. Superb stuff, Rip. Is that first splash page you show from the original issue or a reprint?

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