Unearthed: Strange Tales #129, featuring Adam Warlock

We get into Warlock’s space adventures against the Magus in earnest!

There’s something about a Jim Starlin alien, isn’t there? They feel actually alien, and not just looking like a human in a suit or prosthetic forehead.

I LOVE THIS SPLASH PAGE! This is such an amazing pose! It’s full-on Starlin, with his specific take on musculature on display. And here’s more of that narrative that you just don’t get from comics these days anymore.

Starlin’s not afraid to go noir with his protagonist’s narration. And damn, that’s a gorgeous shot of him in shadow.

Anyway, a bit of a jump ahead here: the ship from the splash page has blasted Warlock and brought him aboard. And here’s the villain of this issue, Autolycus, who has a weird raccoon-like mask for a face. Unusual, sure, but it’s stuck with me over the years.

Just as a stand-alone panel, this makes me giggle. But essentially, Warlock’s been taken prisoner and shares the brig with these aliens, who’ve been rounded up in the name of “purity of form”. Starlin is being pretty standard with his messaging here as he paints the picture of the force Warlock has pitted himself against.

Yep, that’s a floating eyeball, and yep, that’s a head on a hundred toes.

The aliens tell their stories, and we’re getting a pretty clear picture of what the Empire’s all about. It ain’t pretty, folks.

Here we’re introduced to Pip the Troll, who will become one of Warlock’s stalwart companions.

And this is the Matriarch, who’s rocking a kind of 20s look, at least in the face.

Moving right along: Warlock’s escaped his shackles and goes on a ninja-like tear through the ship.

Some really cool sound effects in these panels, and the whole bit is presented in such a fun way.

And finally, the boss battle! It’s wordy in just the way I like my comics! Compared with today’s stuff, there’s just so much more character in this interaction!

Note the dynamic angles Starlin uses in this fight scene. And there are actual beats to it, too; it’s not just a panel of superheroes posing while they speak.

Okay, here’s where this comic deviates from being just a superhero story. Warlock’s Soul Gem is imbued with some kind of malefic intelligence, and it actually hungers for… well, we’re about to see.

The Soul Gem hungers for SOULS! And when it takes someone’s soul from them, Warlock experiences that person’s life! It’s overwhelming and unwelcome, and it’s going to feed the brooding nature of the narrative from here on out.

This self-narrative hit my teenaged brain at the perfect time. It has echoes to Michael Moorcock’s Elric series, in which Elric’s sword also steals souls. It’s just so doom-laden and delicious!

GODS! LOOK at the PATHOS! I honestly love this stuff, I really do. I understand that it may seem faintly ridiculous to modern standards, but I experienced it at just the right time for it to get its hooks into me, and I’ll always love this story.

Join me next time for issue #130!