Warlock and the Infinity Watch #26-28
Issue(s): Warlock and the Infinity Watch #26, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #27, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #28
This arc starts with an attempt to delve into Maxam's secrets. The mood is kept light with some fart jokes.
The effort only results in some images.
It turns out that Maxam's mind has been boobytrapped to prevent exactly the sort of mind-reading that the Infinity Watch are attempting. There's also discussion about implants, which may make the visions we're seeing suspect. But the talk of implants and tampering seems to relate more to Maxam's defenses rather than the memories themselves.
Moondragon is able to break contact before the participants all get brain damage.
One thing that may not be clear from the images themselves but which is made clear from the subsequent dialogue is that the green guy talking to Maxam is a Badoon. That information is kept from Gamora (she wasn't part of the mind-reading effort), since Gamora already distrusts Maxam and (per the retcon in Warlock and the Infinity Watch #11) her people were killed by the Badoon.
While the mind-reading effort is going on, two other events are unfolding. The first is that Count Abyss sends Maya to befriend Warlock and poison him. The second is that Senator Munson, using his position as a special delegate to the UN, orders the Avengers to evict Warlock's crew from Monster Island. When the Avengers meet up with Munson, he mind controls them into agreeing to kill Warlock.
When they arrive on Monster Island, they first encounter Maya and a Moleoid, and they knock them out.
Then they find Gamora, who was out for a swim. Gamora seemingly knocks out the Vision before getting defeated.
At this point the rest of the Watch become aware of the Avengers. Warlock asks them why they are attacking, since they've been allies in the past. But the Avengers' unanimous response, "Warlock must die!", doesn't leave much room for debate. So, big Tom Grindberg fight.
Grindberg's stylized art is an acquired taste at the best of times, but the extended fighting seems to have caused him to rush. The battle between Hercules and Warlock is especially sketchy looking.
It's a shame that what is clearly meant to be an epic (~6 page) fight is ruined due to a combination of Grindberg's art and the fact that Hercules' current look is so disconnected from anything recognizable to classic Marvel fans.
Hercules gets Warlock on the ropes, but the Vision pops up and knocks him out. It turns out the Vision has been playing possum since Gamora kicked him. He was never hypnotized by "Senator Munson", but didn't think he had the power to stop the brainwashed Avengers on his own.
Interspersed with the fighting, we see "Munson" gloating to his bodyguard that either the Avengers will kill Warlock or the Infinity Watch will win the fight and "at least one of [the Avengers] will be killed in the process", thus causing the Watch to be "branded murderous villains".
In the aftermath (illustrated by Moore/Dzon), the joint team tries to figure out who Maya is (and i think Maxam gooses Thunderstrike).
The group decides to go after Munson, but it's determined that only a strikeforce consisting of Vision, Captain America, and Warlock will go, with Pip providing transportation. They confront Munson at the UN. Warlock asserts the Mole Man's rights at the UN.
When Munson objects, Warlock reveals that Munson is really the Man-Beast.
Munson's body guard is Triax.
It's not Grindberg anymore, but it's still very sloppy looking art.
And in a continuing trend for this book, pages and pages are devoted to fight collages.
Warlock wins the fight. Captain America and Vision prevent Warlock from killing Man-Beast. Warlock says "It's a mistake", but he relents and lets the Man-Beast be taken to the Vault.
Warlock is right that it's a mistake, because the Man-Beast was already appearing in Thor at this time and he will continue to do so. So he must escape immediately.
This book definitely hurts from having lost Angel Medina and Tom Raney, but it's still got a lot going for it. In addition to some fun action, the book has a lot of humor. And i love moments like Warlock trying to get the Mole Man's kingdom acknowledged at the UN. The book isn't perfect, but it continues to be one of the few bright spots of the mid-90s.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Captain America says that the Avengers are "sanctioned by the UN" but have only "on occasion" worked closely with the organization. He also says that they're not its enforcers. I'm sure Starlin didn't intend it this way, but the qualifiers in the script make it just barely possible to interpret it as not necessarily taking place while the Avengers were officially part of the UN Charter (i.e. before Bloodties). In other words, i'm interpreting "sanctioned by the UN" as only meaning that the UN has allowed them to act for this mission.
Possibly supporting this, at the end Warlock implies that it wouldn't be possible for the UN to fire the Avengers or otherwise affect them.
I'm reaching for this interpretation because these issues, published some 4 months after the start of Bloodties, have to take place after Blood and Thunder (since the previous arc was part of that crossover) and Blood and Thunder was part of the nightmare tangle of crossovers including Siege of Darkness and Starblast (all of which ended after Bloodties). And on top of that, this takes place while Captain America's super-serum is wearing off, a status that Captain America first mentioned in Captain America #425 (Mar 94). I'm not saying it would be impossible to push all of that prior to Bloodties (with the idea that Cap's degrading powers just aren't mentioned in Bloodties), but the thought of doing so is causing my right eye to twitch unhealthily. And the good news is that the MCP has seemingly come to a similar conclusion, since they have the Avengers appearing here after Avengers West Coast #102, which takes place after Bloodties.
Maya wakes up at the end of this arc, and she's being interrogated at the beginning of next issue, but it's possible that some time passes between issues to allow everyone to rest after their ordeals.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAdam Warlock, Black Widow, Captain America, Count Abyss, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Henry Pym, Hercules, Man-Beast, Maxam, Maya Teraxtola, Moondragon, Pip the Troll, Thunderstrike, Triax, Vision
Warlock's dialogue during his fight with Triax is a definite highlight here.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 6, 2017 8:55 PM
The art is pain to look at, though. Atrocious stuff.
Posted by: Piotr Witkowski | October 7, 2017 4:31 PM
I find this artwork inspirational. I imagine a lot of young kids saw this artwork published and said "I could do better than that."
Posted by: kveto | October 7, 2017 6:12 PM
I read this series in real-time and didn’t get much out of it. You’re right, fnord, that it’s better scripted than most of Marvel’s contemporaneous line. But the plots have no momentum: we’re into this series’ third year now, and it’s consisted of little more than the Watch moping around their base waiting for the next crossover. The Maxam, Abyss, and Maya plots are too slow and too vague to keep a reader’s attention month after month.
It’s a shame because there are some obvious stories this series could have been telling: where did the gems come from, and why was Adam’s gem vampiric? What if Thanos and the other Watch members wind up at cross-purposes? What about the Elders of the Universe—wouldn’t they like to reclaim the gems? Moon dragon even has a history with the Runner, which might have added a bit of continuity interest to an encounter.
I still think if Starlin had remained in Silver Surfer, we might have had a great run on that book, but instead we get a mediocre Ron Marz Surfer and a mediocre Starlin Infinity Watch. Starlin’s Single year on the Surfer had higher stakes and more character development than three years’ worth of Infinity Watch and post-Starlin Surfer stories (plus Infinity minis) would have.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 8, 2017 11:23 AM
I definitely have to second Walter here.
Posted by: Multiple Manu | December 29, 2017 8:36 AM
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