Monday, December 21, 2015

Power Of Warlock - Godlings!


In Marvel Premiere #1 the elements of what becomes "The Power of Warlock" are finally gathered together. The story by writer Roy Thomas and artists Gil Kane and Dan Adkins begins with the High Evolutionary, returned to his armor and to humanity somewhat after a sojourn on other higher planes as an ultimately evolved human.


And as he's back to being human (more or less) he's also back to playing God as his scheme this time, with the assistance of the resurrected Sir Raam, is to take a mote of the planet Earth and on the far side of the Sun  build an entirely new planet, a "Counter-Earth". The Evolutionary schemes that this time he will make a world devoid of the violence which wracks his own home planet, that he will in fact create a utopia.


Witness to this creation is Him, discovered by the Evolutionary and brought into his ship, Him is still in his cocoon, but is able to communicate through technology and his golden face converses with the Evolutionary as he concocts his world. Unknown to them both the Man-Beast and his minions plot to undermine this new Counter-Earth and to that end board the Evolutionary's ship and catch him unaware while he is resting after his monumental act of creation. The Man-Beast then usurps control and injects his own whims on the new planet bringing to it the violence and destruction it had heretofore not seen. This new world is now corrupted.


It is at this moment that Him bursts from his cocoon. Having witnessed the crimes of the Man-Beast he offers to go to Counter-Earth and try to salvage the world, a world the High Evolutionary now seeks to destroy.


In Marvel Premiere #2 by Roy Thomas, Gil Kane, and Tom Sutton, Warlock is greeted after his fall from the heavens by four youths who are typically estranged teenagers of the period named David, Jason and Eddie and Ellie who are twins.


Their dads (a military officer, a rich defense contractor, and an equally rich business man) don't "grok" them, so they have struck out on their own and find Warlock, a golden superman and they think they can believe in him as something of a messiah since he fell from the heavens. But they become witness to Warlock's first battle on Counter-Earth against Rhodan (an evolved rat-man) who is sent by the Man-Beast using a flying chariot pulled by weird genetically-altered hounds to dispatch the High Evolutionary's emissary during which the eyes of the fathers are opened to the true consequences of their behavior.


Roy Thomas makes no bones about the inspiration for Warlock, as he took his guidance from the then hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The tendency of the Age of Aquarius to want to reinterpret and modernize the stodgy essence of classic Christianity and make it relevant was all too evident. I doubt Roy wanted to proselytize, but no doubt the broad similarities of the story of a godlike being come to a planet Earth to redeem its population perverted by the intervention of an evil also the product of the godlike creature who fashioned the planet in the first place does resonate.


I'd also suggest that the movie Journey to the Far Side of the Sun influence the mix as the placement of Counter-Earth seems very familiar.

Whatever the case, the groundwork for some potent tales was laid firmly in these two try-out stories and with the next installment Warlock will get his own title.


More tomorrow.

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10 comments:

  1. Man, do I ever love Adam Warlock! I have all the original comics, the Essential reprint, the Marvel Masterworks of the pre-Starlin mags, and the full-color collection of the Starlin comics. Pretty soon, I'll have an entire shelf full of 70s Warlock reprints! And yet, I'm still looking forward to your next Warlock post! Keep 'em coming, Rip!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words and for the images. I discovered those great splash pages at your exceedingly groovy site. The Starlin stuff gets so much attention, that I thought it was time for the "original" Warlock stuff to get some boost.

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  2. Great post for Christmas Week Rip! I still have Marvel Premiere #2, but I’ve never succeeded in tracking down #1…I looked at the Essential Warlock on Amazon, and even the used copies are going for around $50.00. (Now that those Essential volumes are out-of-print it seems like the prices are sky-rocketing on them…)

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    1. Hard to believe that Essentials are getting expensive, but then they were meant to be disposable and that always helps the secondary market. Look for more Warlock all this week (if I can remember to write the posts).

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  3. I remember the Christian segment of the Hippie era, who were called "Jesus Freaks". Back then, quite a few kids looked like they stepped out of the Bible, and I remember having long philosophical discussions with some fairly gentle believers. It's hard to reconcile that with the intensely reactionary mood of a lot of modern day religion. But in tune with the times, it was very possible for something like J.C.Superstar to be a big hit with contemporary youth. There was an interesting merger of religion, science fiction, and rock in the late 60's/early 70's that inflected much of popular culture. Mind-altering drugs may have helped create the connection between them. You saw the rediscovery of classic fantasy (a big revival of Lord of the Rings and the Ballantine Fantasy series that resulted}, exploration of Eastern philosophy and religion, Michael Moorcock's New Wave, the rise of the Rock Opera, and a lot of nonlinear, visionary experimentation in film and television.

    Comics were a big part of this, though much of the old guard were pretty hostile to the changing culture (resulting in strange moments like the premature death of Brother Power the Geek). There were big influences in print like the Underground Comix, the Psychedelic Poster movement and new picture books by artists that ranged from Wilfried Satty to Peter Max. Comics characters like Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange were referenced in science fiction short stories and on record album covers. A company called Third Eye issued Black Light posters with blow-ups of panels by Barry Smith and Jack Kirby. Comics were considered very cool in a way that was both surprising and inevitable.

    Roy Thomas had to have been aware of all this, just by being alive, and relatively young enough to know how to deliberately integrate the new attitudes into comics. It still felt a little strained and needed someone like Jim Starlin, who was a genuine acid head to take a more head-on approach to religion and mind-warping visions.

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    1. Frodo Lives!

      You summed it up well. Roy comes from a consciously literary and academic background and when he plays with symbols it's apparent that he's doing it. Starlin was more completely an artist who integrated them more seamlessly. I get your point and agree with it somewhat.

      I'll be getting around to Starlin's Warlock eventually, maybe Easter would be a propitious time.

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    2. Actually, Easter would be a great time for the Warlock two-parter from the Incredible Hulk! (Hint, hint...)

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    3. I know, but look for it sooner than that...later this week in fact. That is if the creeks don't rise. Thanks brother.

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  4. Just realized Warlock’s belt on the early Kane/Adkins art – could be construed as an upside-down Peace symbol…

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    1. Yep. It was indeed the Age of Aquarius brother. Peace out!

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