I was just a kid in the ‘70s, but I remember them as trippy times for comics. No creator was trippier than Jim Starlin, and no characters were trippier than the ones he worked on. While the beginnings of Adam Warlock were with Lee & Kirby (created as the character Him in Fantastic Four), Starlin and other writers morphed and grew Warlock into the space spanning, cosmic demi-god he became.
Warlock by Jim Starlin: The Complete Collection includes Strange Tales #178-181, Warlock #9-15, Avengers Annual #7, and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2. While Starlin would return to the character frequently in subsequent decades, this book collects a brilliant contained story, with a beginning, middle and end. There are some side trips, but they all add up to an extremely satisfying, and surprising, conclusion. Starlin introduces some classic characters in these stories, including Pip the Troll, Gamora daughter of Thanos, and Drax the Destroyer.
|The Magus and his 'fro|
In the first half of the book, the antagonist is the Magus, a future version of Warlock (with the trippiest afro you’ve ever seen). The Magus runs the Universal Church of Truth, an evil mind control organization. Starlin must have had a negative experience with religion as a child, as evil churches and clergymen are themes he revisits repeatedly in his work. For the second half of the book, Thanos was front and center as the villain who wants to destroy half the universe to please his mistress, Death. I didn’t understand that as a kid and I still don’t, but it is rather horrifying, then and now.
In these stories, Warlock’s journey concludes in one of the coolest rock-n-roll endings ever, crossing over between Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2. When I read these books as a child I hadn’t read the Warlock stories that led up to them (nor would I have fully understood them) and they still blew my mind. It would have been fine if Marvel had left Adam Warlock where he was at the end of this epic, but I understand that Starlin made him a popular character through these tales and there was more of his saga to tell. In the meantime, while definitely products of their time, these stories still hold up and provide a thinking man’s version of a cosmic superhero. It was great fun to revisit them and they are highly recommended.
Worth your valuable time: Unequivocally.