The_Mad_Swede's Reviews > Marvel Masterworks: Warlock, Vol. 2

Marvel Masterworks by Jim Starlin
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Jul 14, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: comics, marvel-comics, marvel-masterworks, superheroes, 2011
Read from July 14 to 19, 2011 — I own a copy

As Jon B. Cooke notes in his introduction to this volume, there is a slight double meaning in the text when the character Sphinxor in Strange Tales #178 tells us that Adam Warlock had four fathers. Within the fiction itself, it is true since Him was created by four scientist from the Enclave in the pages of Fantastic Four #66–67. But it is also true on another, more external level. Him was the creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (in the aforementioned pages), but he did not become Adam Warlock until another creative pair got their hands on Him. What Roy Thomas and Gil Kane set up in Marvel Premiere #1–2 and continued in the pages of Warlock was just as much an act of giving birth to this character (see the preceding Masterworks volume.

However, in a rare act of cosmic accomplishment, it was Jim Starlin who truly made Adam Warlock his own. Collecting Starlin's complete cosmic saga from the 70s, i.e. Strange Tales #178–181, the revived Warlock #9–15, Marvel Team-Up #55 (notably not by Starlin, but by Bill Mantlo and John Byrne), The Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (as well as the pencil pages from the lost issue #16), this volume certainly shows why.

Coming off his run on Captain Marvel, another title where Starlin flexed his cosmic muscles and showcased his extraordinary imagination, Starlin saw the hidden opportunities to continue building upon what he had already set up there, folding Thanos of Titan into the story of Adam Warlock alongside the sinister threat of the Magus, while creating a supporting cast in Pip the Troll and Gamora, the most dangerous woman in the universe.

There are those who say that Starlin's cosmic 70s material is derivative, and this is certainly true on many levels. Starlin willingly admits being inspired by Kirby's Fourth World material, and the visual resemblances between Thanos and Kirby's Darkseid are of course striking. And yet, Thanos with his nihilistic and literal love for death quickly evolves into a strong character in its own right (one that actually speaks to me much more than Darkseid).

There is also the clear influence of Michael Moorcock's character Elric with his soul-devouring blade Stormbringer in how Starlin re-conceptualises the soul gem attached to Warlock's forehead, a gift from the High Evolutionary, which the character used as a source of power in his previous adventures (although clearly without understanding the gem's true power). But then again, Moorcock himself owes, and admits as much, Poul Anderson a debt for that rune blade, the ancestor of which can be found in the latter's eminent novel The Broken Sword. So, what does this prove? Well, good storytellers have always stolen and borrowed, and at the end of the day it is all about what they do with that material.

In Starlin's case, the result is a piece of awesome comics history and the coming into shape of one of my all time favourite comics heroes.
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