Marvel Premiere #1: Warlock (1972)

Adam Warlock was the gold-skinned epitome of perfection, created by some scientists in an issue of Fantastic Four. In ’72, the character was revived at the hands of Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, two creators who always thirsted to create something a bit different from the standard comics fare. If Warlock was the living embodiment of perfection, then some interesting plots had to open up as he confronted mankind’s imprefection.
To set up that confrontation between perfection and imperfection, Thomas and Kane set up an alternate earth, Counter-Earth, orbiting exactly opposite of the earth, a place that wa intended to be perfect but into which evil would rise in spite of itself. Warlock wouldn’t just be a good guy fighting bad guys on Counter-Earth. Instead, he was the living personification of good, fighting the living personification of evil.
This first issue just sets up the storyline, and even at 27 pages, it’s absolutely crammed in exactly the way that most comics of that era were. This issue is actually a good argument for decompressed storytelling, or at least more decompressed than this comic. The creator of Counter Earth, the High Evolutionary, has that planet evolve from one single rock to dinosaurs to mankind in a mere five pages. Such a great moment surely deserves more time, but Thomas and Kane were in a rush. They had a big story to tell, and even the evolution of a whole planet was just a plot point in their larger scheme.
With wonderful art by Kane, this is a terrific ’70s comic, though it’s really more 27 pages of exposition than it is a real story. It’s great to see creators playing with larger ideas, though, and it’s a shame that they really didn’t get explored more.

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