Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to comics from one decade. This week’s decade: the 1970s! Today’s page is from Warlock #11 and was published by Marvel and is cover dated February 1976. This scan is from Marvel Masterworks: Warlock volume 2, which was published in 2009. Enjoy!
Jim Starlin managed to write two big cosmic epics in the 1970s, which is not a bad decade’s work, after all. His work on Captain Marvel was excellent (it did give us the Time-Mind Sync-Warp, after all), but Adam Warlock was more consistently batshit insane. Starlin was still working in a long tradition of beginning the issue with a splash page, so this page isn’t quite as wacky as many of the others, but it’s a good taste of what Starlin was doing on this book.
Across the top we get the title, “How Strange My Destiny,” which appears to be emanating from the jewel on the Magus’1 forehead. Right below the title we get the fact that it’s Part 2, Chapter 4 of this story, and then this chapter is called “Escape into the Inner Prison.” Dang, that’s a lot of titles. I like how “Inner Prison” is lettered, because it suggests a horror title from the 1950s. The Magus dominates the top of the page, of course, as he bursts through a hole in space, leading that army of ugly dudes, sporting one the top five ‘fros in the history of comics and decked out in purple to match his skin color. Man, that Magus – always a fashion icon even when he’s about to slay Adam Warlock. On the second level, we get Thanos on the left, Adam Warlock in the middle, and Pip on the left. If we’re picking up this book cold, we have no idea who those people are. Because of comics’ relatively simplistic moral and ethical code, we can ascertain that Adam Warlock is not only the guy in the middle, but he’s probably a good guy. He’s blond, his hair is surfer-super, and he looks powerful but not ‘roided up. As we look over at Thanos, we can probably guess that he’s a bad guy. He’s wearing uncomfortable-looking armor (bad guys care not about comfort!), he’s grimacing, and his fists are clenched in front of him. Plus, he’s glowering at Adam and isn’t worried about the Magus bursting through the hole, which again implies that he hates Adam Warlock as much as the Magus does. Starlin wisely puts him behind some machinery, which diminishes him on the page so that Warlock is the dominant, central figure, even as he falls back before the Magus’ assault. Pip is obviously comic relief, plus he provides our link to the second page, identifying the bad guy nicely for us. Starlin lays out the page well, too, as an inverted triangle: The two bad guys form two points, with Warlock in the middle, caught in a precarious position. That’s another way Pip takes us to the next page – he’s not part of the triangle, so we have to step outside of it to move on. And, for the ladies, Warlock’s butt is prominently displayed. Work it, Adam!
You’ll notice that Leialoha finished this. I’m not sure how much influence he had over Starlin – this finished art looks very little like Leialoha’s full pencils from the following decade. He did finish a lot of this Warlock run, though, so while this definitely looks like Starlin’s work, I suppose we must consider how much of it is Leialoha. I honestly don’t know.
Next: A science fiction/fantasy epic! A young artist destined for greater things! More Roy Thomas! It’s all here, as 1970s Week comes to a rousing end! Catch up by gazing at the many items in the archives!
1 That’s pronounced “MAY-GUS,” by the way, with the “g” like the name. Not “MAH-GUS” or “MAY-JUS.” I was watching The River on ABC this spring and they pronounced the “a” short and it always sounded like the boat was called the “maggot.” Things like this bother me. No, I don’t have a life. Why do you ask?
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