Monday, 2 February 2015

Adam Warlock Superstar

Or Jesus Christ Superhero. Or The Most Blasphemous Comic Ever according to some of the letters pages at the time.
Before Jim Starlin blew our minds, and launched an all-out assault on the Catholic Church AND the comics industry with his Warlock series, Roy Thomas & Gil Kane were plotting just about the most heavy handed Biblical allegory ever done in this, or any field.

Our old pal The High Evolutionary has created a new Earth on an afternoon off, which thanks to serpent-in-the-garden The Man Beast, is soon just as awful, bad and evil infested as this one. The fresh out of his cocoon Him is transformed into Adam Warlock, man-angel from beyond the stars, who pleads with his new father figure not to destroy Counter Earth and that only he can bring peace, love and harmony to the failed experiment. Whew, and that's just the first issue.

Warlock soon gets himself a few disciples, such as well meaning middle class drop-out David, twins Eddie & Ellie, and angry black brother Jason, all of whom left home presumably to join up with Green Lantern & Green Arrow on the road.
At first it seems like Jason will be The Golden Guru's Judas / Carl Anderson, but it turns out to be the mysterious and underwritten Astrella ( Spanish for star, sort of ) who regularly disappears from the narrative so she can always come back in the nick of time and be even more mysterious.
For your money, you also get a good Dr. Doom, and a Reed Richards who transforms into a Hulk-like creature called The Brute, I guess to prove that we are on Counter Earth.

In nearly every issue, The Man-Beast sends another of his monstrous minions against Adam, though few of them are particularly impressive or memorable. But I'm not here for the fight scenes, even if they are by Gil Kane, Tom Sutton & Bob Brown and are therefore spectacular.
I'm here for the overwrought dialogue, '60's flower children, and breathtakingly obvious Biblical rewrites. And the endless speechifying about non-violence while punching out a mutated warthog.

Roy The Boy's prose throughout is at it's absolute purplest, and is a joy to read, if you like that sort of thing, which I do. Mike Friedrich later takes over and Gil's Star Hawks buddy Ron Goulart even writes one issue. But it all reads like Roy. Throw in a mysterious politician named 'Carpenter' alongside Astrella, both of whom were clearly meant to be something other than what they're eventually revealed as, and you can see that the focus of this book changed on a month by month, and writer by writer basis. Making it a fun, but ultimately frustrating reading experience.

It's not a great comic, but it is a fascinatingly flawed one, constantly trying to be all things to all people, while different creative teams flail around madly, trying to make sense of it all.
Here's a 'typical' issue:


  1. Do feel free to post the following issue; it had Tom Sutton pencils and inks over John Buscema breakdowns. I think it was the first Sutton artwork I'd seen and I could never figure out why subsequent work never seemed as good :-)

  2. That was indeed a good issue. Ok, will post that at some point too. Unusual art teams that work - something like that.

  3. I recently read all of the Adam Warlock issues. I, too, like purple prose, and a bit of philosophy in my comics, so I did enjoy certain aspects of this book, but as you point out, the book seems to lack focus, or the focus constantly changes, perhaps because the writer constantly changes. Frustrating, as I think this could have been better. It was still a fun read. Obviously, once Starlin took over, things really picked up.