Monday, 3 September 2012

Marvel Essential Warlock - part 1

I pre-ordered this weeks ago and it's finally arrived! I've been wanting to read this volume for forty years, because an issue of Jim Starlin's Warlock - Stange Tales #180, in fact - was the first actual American comic I ever saw. I'd seen things like the UK reprints, but never an actual small-size full-colour book. I'm pretty sure my brother Matt bought it - it's the sort of Heavy Metalish thing he likes.

I never read the rest of the series, although I've read a few other bits and pieces where Warlock plays a part - some of Starlin's other Thanos stories, mostly - so I'm, quite excited about it! 

Since we've had a bit of blog lull, I've decided to blog about this issue by issue as I read  it. Has this classic Marvel cosmic bollocks still got what it takes? Let's find out!

Marvel Premiere featuring The Power of Warlock #1

This great origin issue by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane isn't what I expected - I thought Starlin created the character - but doesn't disappoint. Thomas provides a great combo of deep Marvel continuity and full-on prog-rock bollocks, and Gil Kane gives it all real style. 

We start with a long monologue from the maginificently named High Evolutionary, describing his own backstory and motives. It's wonderfully florid stuff:
Gil Kane's fantastic art lends dignity to The High Evolutionary's ramblings
Maybe it's the elipses that give this its dreamy stentorian bollocks.

There's quite a lot of this, but it's mixed with back story elements that keep things moving along. Kane's impressive art also does a lot to bring the passion to life - the High Evolutionary's a great looking character and Kane's got a real way with dramatic camera angles.

Anyway, he's shortly called away from rehearsing his recent continuity by a flunky who has detected a mysterious artefact floating in the vacuum. This turns out to none other than Him, who recounts his own backstory - he's a loose end left over from a Fantastic Story about a scientist trying to create the ultimate being. There's a lot of these 'ultimate being' shennanigans going on, apparently.

Warlock emerges!
After we've heard Him's backstory (His backstory?), the High Evolutionary reveals the truth about Project Alpha. He's created an alternative world to be home for his perfected human race. This ends up getting corrupted by one of the High Evolutionary's earlier unsuccessful attempts at perfecting humanity, The Beast Man - that's what you get for meddling with nature, as any fool knows.

Well, to cut a long story short, after a lot of talk and a fight with baddies from which The Beast Man himself inevitably escapes, Him volunteeers to be a kind of remptionist Christ for the new Earth. Obligingly, the High Evolutionary flings him to the planet surface, with the words "... UNCANNY your sacred mission... UNEARTHLY your wierdling powers... and BEHOLDING them... men shall call you WARLOCK!"

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