The Power of Warlock #1 and #2
I am beginning to see the folly of writing about a comics series without a scanner! In the weekend, I might have another look and see if it can extracted from behind the second-hand kitched cabinets crammed haphazard into the back lounge. On the other hand, Andrew Rilstone manages it - maybe I've just got to grit my teeth and carry on. [Eagle eyed readers will have spotted that the scanner issue has since been resolved. At the time of writing, kitchen cabinets remain uninstalled. - PH 9 October]
Because the splash at page that opens issue sums up everything about this series: The High Evolutionary, seen from a low angle, making him look huge, gazes out of his space-station window. A rocket shoots out of the atmosphere of an Earth-like world, the Counter Earth of his own creation.
It's a strange mix, this series. Heavy handed religious allegory mixed up pulp science fiction mysticism. The High Evolutionary is like an angry god. The beginning of #1 quickly establishes what's at stake when the High Evolutionary summons Adam Warlock before him and declares his intention to destory the world. At first he claims that the very existence of Counter Earth risks a cosmic catastrophe. When Warlock reminds him of the oath he took to allow him to fight evil on he reveals his true motives.
"But that was BEFORE, Warlock... before I thought at LENGTH on the EVIL introduced into that world I sought to keep PURE and UNDEFILED... the MADNESS, the sheer CORRUPTION ushered in by the CREATURE who has named himself MAN-BEAST!"
Warlock's the psychedelic Jesus to the High Evolutionary's vengeful Yahweh. He's sworn to rid the world of the evil brought by the Man-Beast, although when he explains his mission to his groovy friends he's careful to set the paramters:
Funny how there's always a Man-Beast to chase when you want any of these messiahs to do anything useful. I might use that excuse myself next time I have to wash the dishes.
In pursuit of the Man-Beast, they head into The City ("both the crowning glory and the festering sore of civilization") and Warlock's drawn to mad street preacher ranting and raving on the street corner. A woman who claims to be the sister of the prophet (as he is known!) begs Warlock to save her brother, pointing out shadowy figures on a nearby rooftop. (This hippy chick with the star on her face will turn up later - this is why I note her here!)
Sure enough, a fight ensues wherein Warlock fights two beast men - Haukk and Pih-Junn (the terrifying martial arts combat pigeon man) - and then introduces himself to the Prophet.
To cut along story short, the Prophet leads Warlock to where the Man-Beast sits on his throne. Warlcok attacks, but...
From this bombshell #2 continues. Just in case we hadn't gotten the messiah link yet, Man-Beast sets about trying to convert Warlock to his cause in an elaborate ruse. It culminates in his groovy friends apparently denying him. Warlock becomes furious:
"BETRAYED by every last ONE! If THIS be the end of trust...then I will trust NO MORE! There are OTHER ways to purify this planet ... with fisted FORCE and will-fuelled MIGHT."
Warlock ends up forgiving the groovy friends but not before he's wrought a little global mayhem through a wave of rage-fuelled cosmic powered ultra violence. No harm done though, as it all turns out to be an illusion. There's a brief fight with Man-Beast where Man-Beast is destroyed in that ambiguous way that ensures the possibility of another appearance in the near future.
After that Warlock's reunited with the groovy friends and they all wander off into the sunset.
As well as this anticlimax, this issue's a fill-in from John Buscema with some pretty hurried looking pages, especially towards the end. Gil Kane is mentioned here as "spiritual adviser".