Monday, 8 October 2012

Marvel Essential Warlock - part 7

Strange Tales featuring Warlock #179

We’re now into the second issue of the new Warlock, and the character’s beginning to get somewhere. The splash page features Adam Warlock posed on a slab of space debris glaring angrily at a giant spaceship hovering nearby.

“Death Ship!” it announces in shadowed block caps.

Straight in with the power chords.

This is more like it. If the original run felt a bit like a cosmic version of Jesus Christ Superstar, then this one is a like record by Yes, Rush or The Alan Parsons Project. In this issue we get to see that Warlock now has a much more of a heavy rock vibe to it than the worthy efforts that went before.

Warlock makes a beeline for the ship and is quickly captured. He’s imprisoned with a bunch of freaky aliens who have been mysteriously expecting him. Like the beautiful woman in the last issue, they believe Adam’s a messiah who will lead them out of bondage.

An inspirational ballad.
Adam refuses to lead them. He tells a long story about cavemen, but it basically amounts to power corrupts. He gives them a kind of loose, hippyish libertarianism – think for yourself don’t let anyone tell you what to do – that’s familiar from sci fi writers like Robert Heinlein, Robert Anton Wilson or – perhaps most of all – Michael Moorcock.
The Universal Church of Truth are a kind of decadant fascistic cult, which reminded a bit of Hawkmoon’s Granbretan, although more so of Termight from Pat Mills’s Nemesis stories, with their devotional ways, hatred of aliens and mix of sci fi and fantasy elements. 

 The story takes a distinctly Moorcockian turn when Adam confronts Captain Autolycus, the captain of the space ship and a Black Knight of the Church. Adam is almost beaten in single combat by Captain Autolycus but at the last moment his soul gem (the jewel in his forehead, or The Jewel inthe Skull, if you please) activates and sucks out Autolycos’s soul.
Wierdo psychedelic number - the drummer wrote it.

Previously he’d used the jewel to de-evolutionise the New Men of Counter Earth back to their natural animal state; this is the first time it’s sucked anyone’s soul out. Adam experiences Autolycus’s life and memory in one big trip, and is subsequently gripped by horror and remorse.
Angsty gitar solo.

From space Jesus, Warlock has become space Elric. And Michael Moorcock even wrote songs for Hawkwind, and put out an LP himself. That’s more than God ever did!

That’s anti-authoritarianism and angsty romanticism. The third leg of the rock’n’roll is debauchery, provided by Pip the troll who appoints himse as Adam’s side-kick. No more self-righteous groovy friends for Adam.

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