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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Trade Tales! - Warlock by Jim Starlin: The Complete Collection

Next up, it’s time for some more Marvel cosmic adventures featuring Adam Warlock. In fact, I think this is kind of where the cosmic stuff really took off for Marvel in some respects. Beforehand, Warlock was just confined to Counter Earth, an Earth similar to our own. At the end of his original run, he “ascended into the heavens” (there was a Messiah thing going on with him at that time) and went into the cosmos. Jim Starlin, who was already doing some cosmic-level stories in Captain Marvel, took the character down a much different path. As Starlin put it, he made Warlock into a “suicidal, paranoid schizophrenic.” As I said, it was a much different path from his old life.

I was actively looking for this trade. It wasn’t looking good online-wise. I ended up finding this a few months ago at McKay’s and I was quite happy about it. Warlock by Jim Starlin: the Complete Collection contains all of Jim Starlin’s stories with the character. It includes Strange Tales #178-181, Warlock #8-15, Avengers Annual #7, and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2. I know there’s one story that isn’t included in the trade that features Warlock but it’s not written by Starlin (Marvel Team-Up #55). Starlin wrote and pencilled all 13 issues.

Warlock by Jim Starlin: The Complete Collection
Writer and Artist: Jim Starlin

SYNOPSIS
Strange Tales #178-181 and Warlock #8-12 basically show Warlock’s struggle with the Magus. After some alien (who’s doing a nice Stan Lee impression) exposits about Adam Warlock’s backstory, we get into the new direction proper. He’s traveling in space when he comes upon a woman who is escaping from the Universal Church of Truth. The woman is killed and this angers Warlock. We then see the church’s god, the Magus. Through some weird head-trippy stuff, it’s revealed that the Magus is somehow a darker version of Warlock! Realizing this evil needs to be dealt with, he sets off to stop the Magus.
While Starlin's look of the old suit is good, I like the new look.

As he makes his journey, he meets a Troll named Pip who knows a lot about the Church. Pip also knows his way around the galaxy. Warlock also starts to experience weird things with his soul gem. It begins to absorb other opponents’ souls. He and Pip make it to the headquarters of the Church and end up gaining another companion, Gamora. While she is also plotting against the Magus, she is secretly an assassin for Thanos, the Mad Titan. 
Yes, clowns are involved.

Warlock ends up getting captured and put on trial. He then gets put through the Church’s indoctrination process. Luckily, Pip and Gamora help him out. The three then meet the Magus and that is another quandary altogether. He’s too powerful for all of them (including Warlock) to deal with. Luckily, they’re saved by Thanos himself. It then becomes an all-out battle as Warlock and Thanos must find a way to beat the Magus.
I don't know how that afro fits in, but it strangely works.

Warlock #13-15 basically show the repercussions of Warlock’s actions and how they start to shape his mind. He takes some time to himself and leaves Pip to his own devices. He ends up going up against a weird villain called the Star Thief. After Warlock deals with him, we begin to learn more about the soul gem and its effects on Warlock. Meanwhile, things start to shape up with Thanos who is up to his usual evil tricks. 

Finally, the annuals touch on Thano’s plot and Warlock’s time fighting him. Thanos has found other soul gems (eventually called the Infinity Gems) and plans to use them for destruction. Since Thanos is threatening the galaxy, Warlock enlists the help of the Avengers. Captain Marvel also gets involved since this is Thanos, after all. Spider-Man and the Thing even get involved in this struggle between the two when things go awry. In the end, things do come to an end with Warlock and Thanos.


OPINION
If the synopsis seems brief, it’s because I don’t want to spoil anything this time around. This was pretty awesome. I was pretty much sucked into the series right at the beginning. The stories were well done. The dialogue is old-school (of course) but it reads well even in a more modern context. One thing I thought was pretty interesting was noticing how many different topics get brought up. Some of those topics include religion, depression, fate, and other stuff that I didn’t pay too much attention to since the stories were good.
Told ya it gets trippy!

We see Warlock go through the wringer here mentally in his fight with the Magus. Without spoiling too much, it definitely leaves a mark and follows him to the end of the trade. He was pretty morose and depressed in it all. If you thought Superman was glum in Batman V. Superman, read this and be amazed at how low Warlock gets. If you know anything about the Magus’s backstory, you can’t blame Warlock for feeling how he does. Pip was a nice comic relief for the series. In fact, he was needed to break up Warlock’s moroseness in the trade.

I also liked a lot of the other characters here as well. Gamora was cool as the sly female assassin. I don’t have much to say about her though. The Magus was a pretty interesting villain. You’ll see why if you ever read the issues. The one who probably took it away for me was Thanos. While he has a bit of that Darkseid feel, he’s got some interesting depth to him and it shows here. The whole battle with the Magus and his forces was cool to see. The final arc that includes the Avengers, Spider-Man, and the Thing gave the whole thing a nice end. It brings all of the main players’ stories to some sort of end.

The artwork was pretty awesome. I hadn’t really been exposed to Starlin’s art before this. I now see why fans like his artwork so much. It all has a lot of detail to it and it can get really trippy at time. Just look up the trial and indoctrination and you’ll see what I mean by trippy. It’s action-packed as well with everyone looking right and looking good. Even though there are other finishers and colorists involved, the art looks consistent and well-done overall. I really can’t say anything bad about the artwork. Starlin even made that afro on the Magus work. It’s the funniest and coolest thing in the book.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about the trade as a whole. I wasn’t really feeling the story element of the Star Thief all that much. It wasn’t bad, but it does get a little weird even for this series. It can also be a little overwritten at times. That’s not completely a bad thing though. That’s how comics were at this time. Other than those things and maybe a couple of nitpicks, I really liked this one.
"Excuse me while I wax poetically and pose for the golden ladies out there!"

Overall, this was really good. If you’re looking for anything that’s off the beaten path, try this out. Also, if you want an idea on how Thanos may be in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, then give it or the issues a read. I do wonder one thing though about the character of Warlock. Since we are getting Thanos and the Infinity Gems(or Stones) in the MCU, who’s gonna play Warlock? Will he even play a part? I’d hope so. Well, I’m out. Peace, God Bless, and take a chill pill every once in a while.

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