Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Super-Hero As Savior

savior |ˈsāvyər| [noun]

A person who saves someone or something (esp. a country or cause) from danger, and who is regarded with the veneration of a religious figure.

Since the conceptualization of "The Superman" by Frederic Nietzsche, continuing with Siegel and Schuster's creation of "Superman" through to Alan Moore's "Miracleman" (AKA "Marvelman") and "Watchmen", we have considered the relationship between the average man and the exceptional man.
These figures occur throughout history, they appear in religious writings, fables and legends and more.

Now, if an actually-for-real super-hero appeared on our Earth, wouldn't it go down like "Dr. Manhattan" in "Watchmen"? If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...... therefore, if it has God-like powers......

In fact, it is an on-going under-current within ALL "long-underwear" comic books (even if the writers, artists and editors choose to look the other way), but rarely has it been done with such conscious intent, sheer illustrative power, lyrical style and all-round élan as by Gil Kane and Roy Thomas in "Warlock". Of course it couldn't last.

Like all things of a difficult and complex nature, most people scratch their heads, don't quite get it, sales tank and it vanishes or gets mainstreamed. Still, the first three issues are among the finest books Marvel ever published, and although the 4th issue is mostly notable for Gil's obvious absence, it still continues the thinly disguised biblical allegory begun in Marvel Premiere #1. I won't run further issues as
a) I don't have 'em.... and
b) I don't think they're all that good.

But the handful of initial issue are pretty impressive.
To put it bluntly, The High Evolutionary plays the God-like father figure, creator of a world, and Adam Warlock stands in for Jesus, and plays the son-like figure sent to redeem the previously mentioned planet(in this case Counter-Earth).

Gil Kane's artwork has never been more lyrical, presenting page after page of bold layouts, and Roy Thomas shows us why he is second only to Stan Lee in the pantheon of Marvel writers. This is powerful stuff, and blew me away as a kid. "How can they get away with this "Jesus Christ, Super-Hero" stuff?!?" I asked myself as a kid....

I still wonder today, how it slipped under the radar of certain conservative special-interest groups of the day. Jim Starlin got what was going on here, and with Al Milgrom, revisited the issues and concerns of the early parts of this series in the mid-1970's (before the series was once again cancelled).

More recently, "The House of Ideas" hasn't known exactly what do do with Adam, and his recent appearances have him plodding around in outer space, a poor imitation of his former self.....

Oh well....

Marvel Premiere 1

Marvel Premiere 2

Warlock 1

Warlock 2

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