Page 45 Review by Stephen
Following his run on CAPTAIN MARVEL in which he created Thanos, the craggy-chin Titan besotted by Death, this is Starlin's most significant contribution to comics, and one of those rare, enormously satisfying, self-fulfilling time loops.
Never has butterscotch been so attractive as it is on Adam Warlock's skin. The colour, I mean. Fans of Bryan Talbot's ADVENTURES OF LUTHER ARKWRIGHT will relish the art as much as the introspection and the adversarial role of The Universal Church of Truth with all the ruthless repression, hypocrisy and indoctrination that comes with our own organised religions. So here we go, the cosmic saga:
Warlock is a star traveller with a Soul Gem which sits on his forehead ready to rip out opponents' life force like a glistening vampire. But it comes with a cost - a burden of guilt - for very early on Adam comes into contact with The Universal Church Of Truth's handiwork, learns that it's headed by The Magus, and discovers that this Magus is his future self corrupted and driven insane by his experiences. From that moment on he sees but one course of action: he has to cauterise the future by terminating his own lifeline before it's too late. And that's precisely what he achieves when he's confronted by a bloody, broken version of himself lying in the ruins of some future battle:
"You... So my time has really come."
"You know why I am here?! Then you must also realise I've no desire to do what I must now do!"
"Of course I understand, you idealistic buffoon! Are not you and I one and the same person? My final moments are upon me! I am dying and you have come to steal my soul so that it will never become the foe I defeated those long months ago!"
"Months... I didn't realise it had happened such a short time ago!"
"Short time?! You fool, it's been an eternity! During that time, everything I've ever cared for or accomplished has fallen into ruin! Everyone I've ever loved now lies dead! My life has been a failure! I welcome its end."
That takes place approximately one-third of the way through. It's only then that the rough stuff starts happening and Adam has to endure all that was promised until, in a final battle against Thanos alongside Captain Marvel and the Avengers, Adam Warlock falls, and you see precisely the same scene played out in a new perspective.
It is gutting.
A tonne of extras at the back include the "lost" issue of WARLOCK pencilled by Alan Weiss. I don't know why I use inverted commas because it was indeed well and truly lost, left like some civil servant's State Secrets in a New York City taxi cab.
Fortunately embellishing artist Steve Leialoha saved photocopies of those pencils and exceedingly beautiful they are too, easily matching the neo-classical figure work of Jim Starlin who himself is at his very pinnacle on these pages, although they really have made a dog's dinner of "updating" the colouring on this collected edition's cover.