As Marvel’s second-most-important cosmic hero (after the Silver Surfer), Adam Warlock is the key to many important crossovers in the Marvel Universe.  But how did the artificial man called Him ever become the spaceborne messiah metaphor we know and love?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Marvel Premiere #1 awaits!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Gil Kane
Inker: Dan Adkins
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Editor: Stan Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 20 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $250.00

Previously in Marvel Premiere: Originally created by The Conclave in an issue of Fantastic Four, the being known as “Him” rebelled against his creators and set out to walk the Earth in search of meaning.  After a battle with the thunder-god and Avenger called Thor, Him left Earth behind, venturing into deep space in search of his destiny.  That likely would have been the end of Him, had Marvel editor and writing machine Roy Thomas not found himself enamored of the musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ circa 1971.  Roy felt that the themes of that story could be translated into an amazing comic book story, if only he had the right character to pu at the center of it all.  The Christ-imagery is overt from the very first panel of this issue, a gorgeous Gil Kane splash that puts the subtext front and center…

Obviously, there are a number of issues in trying to make a musical about the life of Christ into a superhero tale, but Marvel had made great strides in their first decade in making the stories about more than just the ol’fighty-fighty.  Of course, the question of how Adam Warlock might be put into such a role would require some legwork.  Enter: The High Evolutionary!

H.E., the being once known as Herbert Wyndham of Wundagore, was last seen evolving himself out of and beyond human form in battle with The Incredible Hulk.  Having spent time as a hyper-evolved phantom being of ethereal blah blah blah something something, Wyndham (because typing “High Evolutionary” over and over again can really wear you doooown) has returned to corporeal form in search of meaning.  It is here that his journey towards his destiny interacts with Him’s…

For those not in the know, that abalone-lookin’ space thingy is actually a cocoon, one which those familiar with Adam Warlock’s history will recognize.  H.E. brings the strange structure into his floating world-ship and begins to scan it, only to find that the abyss…  errr, cocoon is gazing into him as well.

Having spent a couple of pages pontifically narrating his own origins and history, Wyndham allows the same courtesy to his guest, as the mind within the cocoon explains to him who and what he is, including helpful citations for those who wish to read the original issues (something that I wish modern comics would still utilize.)

Having discovered one that he considers, if not an equal, at least a philosophical peer, H.E. agrees to let Him go his own way.  He also mentions his current goal, “Project Alpha”, which piques the interest of the golden-hued man within the cocoon.  H.E. and Him share their derision for Earth, a flawed world filled with moral compromise and lesser beings to harsh one’s philosophical vibe; but The High Evolutionary has a plan!

A dozen years before Doctor Manhattan has the same epiphany, H.E. has come to the seemingly inevitable conclusion that he has outstripped the surly bonds of Earth and has a better idea: Create some life of his own, and do it RIGHT this time!

Roy Thomas has said that he didn’t wish to write a story that was overtly biblical in nature, but I’m not entirely sure he succeeded, as H.E. works feverishly to create a new Earth, Counter-Earth, a world where he can wipe out the weaknesses and shortcomings of man and create a utopia…

Of course, there’s a serpent in every metaphorical Eden, and Wyndham’s paradise is no exception…

Remember that bit about Wundagore?  Wundagore is a mountainous region of Europe, best remembered these days as the place where Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch were born, but back in the 1930s, Wyndham evolved animals into vaguely human form.  One of them, the Man-Beast, went rogue, and the entire experiment went downhill from there.  Now, on the eve of his newest triumph, H.E. finds that Man-Beast has returned, and has instilled his new Counter-Earth with the same flaws (one might say the same “sins”) as the world from which he sprung.

He’s not happy about it, either…

Man-Beast and his creator find themselves locked in combat, and their battle catches the attention of the being in the cocoon, revising his thoughts on whether or not he’s ready to emerge.  Thus do we catch our first glimpse of the being called Warlock…

The Man-Beast flees to Counter-Earth, and H.E. realizes that his experiment is failed.  He prepares to coldly erase his failure, but Warlock intervenes…

Gil Kane’s skills as an artist are seldom as obvious as they are in this issue, which may be thanks to Dan Adkins’ inks, but the sight of Warlock’s pronouncements gives me goosebumps.  If man is flawed and there’s a serpent among them, at least give him the chance to ferret that serpent out and save the lives of the creature H.E. has created…

Thus does Warlock descend from the heavens to act as the savior of the people of Counter-Earth…  Though Galactus and others were active in the Marvel Universe before this issue, it’s here that I believe that what we call “Cosmic Marvel” stories originate.  The Guardians Of The Galaxy movie, Slott/Allred Surfer, The Infinity sagas, everything with Thanos?  All of it has some underpinning that begins here with Thomas’ adaptation of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’  Though it’s Starlin’s take on the character that really made Warlock sing, Marvel Premiere #1 is ground-breaking stuff that could have been incredibly offensive, but turned out to be well-drawn and only a little bit overwritten, paving the way for the X-Men to go to outer space, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s not an easy comic to find, but it’s worth seeking out nonetheless…



The first appearance of Adam Warlock as Adam Warlock, featuring unlikely source material and excellent Kane/Adkins artwork... Recommended!

User Rating: 4.45 ( 2 votes)

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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