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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – How Did Adam Warlock Get to be the Size of a Solar System?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Based on a suggestion from a reader named Tony, we examine how Marvel handled Jim Starlin’s attempt to keep Warlock from planet Earth.

At tail end of his run on Warlock, Jim Starlin decided to shake things up a lot. In Warlock #14, Warlock is in conflict with this powerful villain on Earth known as the Star Thief who has projected his consciousness into the Andromeda Galaxy and is, well, stealing stars.

Warlock heads to Earth to stop him, but is shocked at what he finds…

The Star Thief is dealt with in the final pages (he is so distracted by his mental projection battle with Warlock in space that he doesn’t realize that he has left himself open to attack on Earth and he is killed).

In the next issue (Starlin’s last), Warlock bemoans his situation…

Clearly, Starlin’s intent was to officially separate Warlock from Earth and end the series with Warlock being off among the stars, searching for new adventures along the way.

However, this is an inter-connected comic book company, so soon after Warlock #15, Bill Mantlo brings Adam Warlock back in Marvel Team-Up #55, where Mantlo explains how Warlock can interact with Spider-Man (who is stuck in outer space on a runaway rocket when he encounters Warlock)…

“Now wait just a second here,” you might say, “First off, how the hell does the portal reduce Warlock’s size but keep Spider-Man the same size?” and “Even if we accept Mantlo’s change, he is not FORSAKING Starlin’s original story, he is just abandoning. God, Brian, you’re ruining everything!”

And you would be right about both. Mantlo’s fix wasn’t very good and it did not forsake Starlin’s original srory.

That, instead, would be done by Mark Gruenwald in Marvel Two-in-One, where Gruenwald explains that Warlock was only tricked into THINKING he had grown by some aliens that were planning on stealing Counter-Earth, so they needed to find a way to keep Warlock out of their business…

And Warlock has been roughly human-sized ever since.

Starlin, of course, tried again to take Warlock off the table for other writers when he killed off not just Warlock, but pretty much his entire supporting cast (Thanos, Pip and Gamorra). It unsurprisingly did not take, either (although at least it was Starlin who got to bring them all back).

Thanks for the suggestion, Tony! If any of you readers out there have suggestions of your own, let me know (you can e-mail them to me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com).

32 Comments

Oh I dunno, I’d say Bill Mantlo’s fix was at least as good as the original plot point, which was crackers. And a lot less painful to read.

That is one big Warlock! But where does it state he grew as large as the milky way galaxy ? As far as i remember he did not even outgrew the solar system. Even though he dwarfed Earth and the Sun.

But when was he the size of the Milky Way Galaxy?

From the pictures shown I would guess he was as big as the Solar system (a couple of light hours across, I believe), but nowhere near as big as 100,000 light years (or even the more recent estimate of 75,000 light years) of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Sure, sorry, solar system. Corrected it for ya!

Why’d Starlin want to take his toys away?

Adam Warlock. My childhood man crush. I was so gay for him!

The original story was, as Martin said, utterly crackers. However, it made a sort of sense as Starlin’s period on the strip, while brilliant, was weird and unpredictable throughout.

But I can’t blame Starlin for wanting to keep Warlock away from the mainstream MU. I mean, I love Bill Mantlo but the MTU story with Spidey and Adam just limps along. Even Byrne, who was still excellent back then, turns in a lacklustre job. It’s a really forgettable issue made all the more mediocre by what it followed. No wonder Starlin believed that Warlock worked best away from the rest of the spandex brigade.

Man, the idea of looking up from a planet and seeing Adam Warlock’s giant package inches away from tea-bagging you into oblivion is a terrifying thought.

As Boabie says, it may be weird but Warlock was a weird–in a wonderful way–series. So it worked for me
I’ve always regretted that Warlock didn’t stay dead. Nothing done with him afterwards was ever as good.

Jim Starlin’s utter disdain for the Marvel Universe continues. This was one of the more bizarre scenarios he pulled out of his ass.

Also… Marvel really needs to reveal Warlock’s massive gayness. In this day and age, when gay has became en vogue in the comics world, there’s no reason to keep Adam in the closet.

The gravitational force of Warlock’s huge body would absolutely tear the solar system apart. Thank goodness for comic book pick-and-choose science.

Adam Warlock is gay? What is this based on? He first showed up as Him chasing Sif, hinted at feelings for the matriarch as he stood over her dying body, fell in love with a (female) slave of Count Abyss and has an on-off thing with Gamora. His relationships are complex, it’s true, but I’m surprised that anyone would identify them as gay.

And, yes, I realise he was drugged when he fell in love with whats-her-chops? But Abyss chose a female, not a male.

It sure does look like Adam Warlock is doing something nasty with the sun there.

dear Gods, what shonky science. and since when’s Luna been a fricking asteroid?!

“The gravitational force of Warlock’s huge body would absolutely tear the solar system apart. Thank goodness for comic book pick-and-choose science.”
In fairness, both the Starlin and Mantlo stories say that the atoms of Adam Warlock’s body have been moved further apart, so presumably his mass would still be that of a normal-sized human. It’s still dodgy science from half-a-dozen other angles, though.

Presumably Mantlo’s “fix” didn’t bother Starlin much, since he wrapped up the classic Warlock saga by having Adam team up with the Avengers, Spider-Man, and the Thing.

have to admit that i found it crazy that warlock was so big after battling star chaser that he could never return to earth yet then able to be able to be with spider man on the moon without crushing it for was hoping some one after starlin was done since odds are marvel given what he did with warlock would not let him continue that maybe warlock size was due to another mind game by star stealer. as for why he wanted them stuck in the toy box who knows. maybe jim planned to revisit warlock and crew in the future again.

Re: Warlock’s sexuality

Waaaay back when he was just called “Him,” Warlock went after Sif, the Asgardian goddess and Thor’s main squeeze. Later on, Starlin had Adam and Gamora become romantic partners following the Infinity Abyss miniseries.

Adam Warlock is a poor choice for a “gay all along” reveal. At best, he could be revealed to be bisexual.

For those complaining about Warlock’s gravity, the caption on the second page above says he is an “intangible phantom,” so presumably he has no mass and no gravity.

It just seems wrong to see Tom Orzechowski lettering something besides an X-book.

Okay, I caught that caption. I guess I can let that go. Still, I can’t see a whole lot of story possibilities with a giant space ghost. They were right to shrink him back, no matter how silly the explanation.

I need to get these comics out again…I don’t remember a damn bit of this. But then I have a horrible memory.

A shame that marvel gave the green light to allow warlock and his cast to be put on the shelf for so long. I came to like the book even more then the old surfer series.

I got the recently released Essential Warlock which contains both the Counter-Earth period and the Starlin run (plus Mantlo’s MTTU story). I thnk there’s an untold story to be written between MTU and the two Annuals that ended his story, since those jump ahead a bit, but I wish he’d stayed dead. It’s a compelling ending to a fascinating saga, but the fact that the reader knows he, Gamora, and Pip are all going to be resurrected someday does take away a lot of the impact of the ending.

Very cool. Thanks, Brian!

Of course, Gruenwald leaves us to wonder if the Star-Thief was in on the “illusion” of Warlock’s gigantic size, or if the Star-Thief himself was just part of the illusion, since he’s the one who explains to Warlock what’s going on. Seems like Gruenwald was usually more thorough than that with his retcons.

Maybe Starlin was setting up for a 68-page quarterly title called “Giant-Size Warlock”???

Is this the story that introduced the Elder of the Universe known as The Gardener? I agree it was a bit of a letdown story-wise. The Hulk story with him was much better.

[…] of shoe-horning here — Gamora is killed off between issues, and to no one’s regret the silly subplot where Warlock has expanded into a giant many thousands of time larger than the sun…. Plenty of pages have to be turned over to the headlining Avengers, which further cramps the […]

Hey Brian I know this is off topic for this story about Adam Warlock, But theirs been been something on my mind since the end of House of M.
What ever happened to Nate (X-Man) Gray’s love child with Threnody (I don’t those issues any more so if it’s spelled wrong blame Marvel) I remember it was back in Issues #67 or 68 Just 3 months before X-Man, X-Force and Generation X where given to Warren Ellis’s Counter X as a part of Clarimont coming back to both X-Men Titles.
Any way She had His Child at the beginning of the book, Stated that Since her power was to consume death energy of the dead and dying and he was a dead man walking how she was using like him a junkie sleeping with her dealer for her next fix (I don’t have the book in front of Me but that is almost word for word of her dialogue) Then she uses him to fight of the Zombies that she was responsible for (after Madelyne Pryor killed her in #25) she goes to pick up her child and has been forgotten ever since

I just find it funny that Star-thief takes the time to explain in detail what exactly happened to warlock

Reverend Meteor

October 2, 2012 at 11:35 am

Can we do one of these features on the Elder of the Universe known as the Contemplator?

I was highly annoyed when Gruenwald revealed that the Contemplator in Englehart’s run on Silver Surfer was a Skrull. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

If the Contemplator in that run was a Skrull then that means…

1. The Contemplator who conspired with the other Elders to destroy and restart the universe was a Skrull and he wouldn’t have become a god when the universe restarted. They wanted to restart the universe because there was a deal with death where the Elders couldn’t die and if you’re one of the ones who survives a universe being destroyed you kind of become a Galactus. That deal would not have applied to a Skrull taking the Contemplator’s place.

2. The Contemplator that was eaten and digested by Captain Reptyl and later lived on as a ghost was in fact a Skrull or some sort of Skrull ghost.

3. The Contemplator was a Skrull who was manipulating the Skrull Nenore into pretending to being the ruler of the Kree empire while at war with the Skrull Empire. He also recreated the Supreme Intelligence.

4. The Cotati were the ones that tipped off Shalla Bal about Nenore being a Skrull…shouldn’t they have tipped her off to Contemplator being a Skrull too? Then again if I have my retcons straight Shalla Bal and the rest of Zenn La was actually a projection of Galactus to keep Norrin from being bummed his world was destroyed from aliens or something. But we didn’t know any of that yet…

Meh, I think writers shouldn’t waste time with explanations to explain thing and instead just say ‘no time to puzzle about it now’.

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