Marvel Premiere #1
“And Men Shall Call Him…Warlock!”
Been a long time since I’ve gone back and read my own work. I may have said this before over in “Daredevil Minus Daredevil”. I go out of my way to not describe the story or the plot beat by beat. To me, that is not an essay or a review, that’s a recap. However upon consideration, I will be starting these with a broad recap of the issue but in the best way that I can.
This issue is mostly NOT about Warlock he is pretty much a non-player till the end. This comic mostly concerns itself with The High Evolutionary. He is a stock Marvel Comics Super Scientist who could be evil or not evil depending on what the story called for. He monologues into a space recorder on his spaceship for many, many pages about his personal history. Mostly how he became a 2001 Space Baby and didn’t like it so he decided not to look like that anymore. He finds Warlock, who had previously gone only by the name Him in the old Kirby comics he debuted, floating in a cocoon out in space. He sticks a camera in the thing and talks to Him while he is still inside the cocoon allowing them to monologue at each other…did I forget to mention High Evolutionary created a bunch of animal people? The main one is a wolf monster called Man-Beast. Anyway High Evolutionary creates a Counter-Earth on the other side of the sun with the hope of creating a world without violence. He passes out midway through the job and Man-Beast who had been observing all this sneaks aboard his spaceship and introduces violence and fucks everything up making Counter-Earth like Earth-2 but in the same universe. Him busts out of his cocoon and scares off Man-Beast and then the High Evolutionary sends him to Earth to be Space Jesus. Because he’s God. (Two meanings! )
That is the broadest recap I could do and that is still a hell of a paragraph. That’s how dense comics were back in 72’ folks and they weren’t all Don McGregor awesome wordiness sometimes they were Roy Thomas shut-the-fuck up faux formal speechifying. This is very much a Roy Thomas comic from 1972 indeed. The nexus point between the Roy Thomas that wrote some awesome Avengers and Dr. Strange comics and was pretty terrifically creative and the Roy Thomas who has no other interest then in making all comics fit together into a super-structure. This comic is 70 percent people talking at each other about their continuity. Roy Thomas LOVES that stuff. He is always down to recap other comics that he read. At this moment in time Thomas is using his power of obsessive continuity tracking to create new plots. He sees Him and the High Evolutionary floating around in space and decides to make his Passion Play in Space comic. 1982 Roy Thomas doing the same thing would try to figure out how they connect to the Golden Age for some reason.
The other part, the creative part is that Roy Thomas is still into space fantasy and God and Jesus metaphors are some easy things to slot into that sub-genre and Thomas would just be in his Early 20s just enough, at this time, to really believe he was getting into some deep shit (which is why I would say that when Mike Friedrich takes over, without reading those yet, he is realllly gonna take that ball and run with it because he was totally invested in that mindset of just Believing.) Gil Kane definitely plays with the pages of the creation of the Counter-Earth. It’s all a kaleidoscope of swirls and orbs and clouds becoming these thin shapes that are supposed to represent Earth and then going through the history of the Earth and drawing Cavemen and Barbarians and as many floating heads as he can stand to draw. I will say that the trade-off between the nagging verbosity of the prose is offset by the fact that the art is always showing something fascinating going on. Gil Kane is the Gil Kane of Marvel at this point and can give anything a spitshine at this point…not that this needs a big one. Picking at it aside I did enjoy it. It was asinine and unwieldy in a way I could get behind. Fuck it, Space Jesus comics 1972.
Next time, Adam Warlock meets some Groovy Teens!
-Daniel Von Egidy, 2012