Warlock and the Infinity Watch #5-7
Issue(s): Warlock and the Infinity Watch #5, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #6, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #7
Any Warlock series should feature the Man-Beast as a villain sooner or later, so it probably wasn't too much of a surprise for him to turn out to be the mystery villain here.
We saw in the previous arc that an armored villain was kidnapping the other members of the Infinity Watch. At the start of this issue, that guy asks his boss why he doesn't rip off their Infinity Gems and use them the way Thanos did, but the response is that "some power is too great for even the wiliest of intellects to directly control". So he's instead constructed a big device to utilize their power.
Meanwhile, Adam Warlock is having trouble locating his friends, so he's forced to go to the mysterious holder of the Reality gem. What i like is that he's having doubts about the decisions he made while he was handing out the gems and his "arrogant godhood blinded my judgement".
The mystery gemholder (in the lettercol, people are already guessing that it's Thanos) tells Warlock where the rest of the Infinity Watch is being held (on a spaceship orbiting Earth), but he also warns him that the villain has a "strange duality". And note that Warlock's doubts extend to his mystery partner as well.
This is all done really well by Starlin. A nice scenario to begin with, and it's really cool to see Warlock now doubting his actions instead of Starlin just asking the readers to accept the status quo set-up at face value.
Warlock makes it to the spaceship and fights his way through the guards. As with the last arc, he relies on stealth and not on any great power granted by his Soul gem or anything else. This is not a Silver Surfer comic with a cosmically powered protagonist.
That becomes especially true when Warlock faces the first armored mystery character.
And Warlock is especially rattled to realize he's not fighting the boss.
He defeats the first guy, and confirms that it is Triax, one of the evil New Men of Counter-Earth.
And that means his boss is the Man-Beast.
The Man-Beast is controlling an "Infinity Thrall", which is powered by the gems held by the captive members of the Watch.
Warlock fights the creature for a while, knowing he can't beat it but unwilling to abandon his friends.
But then, in a clever bit, he figures out that the creature's weakness is the fact that it's powered by the Man-Beast's machinery ("instrumentality").
And so he calls for a halt in the battle to allow the Man-Beast a chance to surrender.
Not the sort of thing you see a lot in regular super-hero comics. Warlock is an unusual character, and Starlin is a good writer.
So Warlock heads to the Engineering room and baits the Thrall into smashing the controls. Triax figures out what Warlock is doing and tries to stop the Man-Beast but Man-Beast is too much of a "hate-filled fool" to listen.
The resulting explosion causes the ship to fail and start crashing to Earth. Man-Beast and Triax flee in an escape pod. Warlock tries to rescue his friends, but passes out. However, Pip is able to get free and teleport everyone to Earth.
After agreeing that maybe they do work well together as a group, Warlock passes out and has a nightmare about the Magus.
He wakes up to find a new cape has been given to him.
Meanwhile, Moondragon faces the fact that Drax is her father, who she killed and who now, post-resurrection, has brain damage.
It turns out that the Watch have landed on Monster Island.
The Mole Man isn't trying to fight, though. He's the one who gave Warlock his cape, and he's offering to let the Infinity Watch stay on his island. He's aware of the Infinity Gauntlet incident ("Probably because we were beneath the Earth's surface and relatively unknown to you", the Mole Man surmises, not that it was any of the Watch that triggered the cosmic reset that made everyone forget). And he wants the Watch to stay on his island as a form of protection, in return for giving them a place to stay. Moondragon, who's read the Avengers' file on Mole Man, embarrassingly describes him as a "bush-league bad guy" that "always comes out second best" against the FF or the Avengers. But Warlock is interested in the idea, and the fact that Mole Man's island is loosely recognized by the UN.
Mole Man offers Warlock weapons and monsters to protect them.
And he thinks their presence will discourage people looking to get past the island into the Mole Man's subterranean kingdom to search for riches. Mole Man assures Warlock that he does not want anyone to fight at his side if Mole Man ever tried to conquer the world again, which the Mole Man says he's given up on anyway ("Planet Earth has become too small and dangerous a mudball for such adventurism").
Warlock agrees. Another unique scenario for this book, and a good use of the Mole Man, who has become more of a sympathetic character over the years. This is a nice way to explore that.
And then Thanos shows up.
A lot of really great stuff going on here. It's a lot smarter than your average super-hero book, especially in comparison to the vast majority of what Marvel was doing in the 90s. It's a slight shame that Angel Medina couldn't consistently pencil the book, because Tom Raney's attempt to match his style falls flat. But the look of the first two issues is really nice.
I find it notable that a few titles (this, Wonder Man, Alpha Flight) take place during Infinity War without being labelled tie-ins. In a sense, that's admirable, because the stories are not tie-ins in any legitimate sense. It's just that the events of Infinity War (the start of it, mainly) overlap with the "ordinary" happenings in these titles. So it wouldn't be fair to label them tie-ins, because the readers that would be drawn in by that wouldn't be getting much related to Infinity War. And i don't think it's a case of obvious crass commercialism; i mean, the readers of this book were probably going to read Infinity War no matter what, and the readers of Wonder Man and Alpha Flight, all 300 of them, didn't need to help boost Infinity War's sales. And in any event these books will all have proper tie-ins beginning with their next issues. And these books could all have just wrapped up their current stories before moving on to the tie-ins, instead of mixing Infinity War into them. So it really is just an example of the sort of shared universe continuity that i love. I think it's cool that things don't happen neatly, and Thanos does happen to show up here right as the Infinity Watch are settling into their new headquarters, or that Wonder Man's rematch with Angkor is interrupted by a call for Wonder Man to visit the West Coast Avengers compound to hear a message from (a fake) Mr. Fantastic.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm allowing for a fair amount of time to pass between last arc and this one, giving Adam Warlock some time to search for his companions before giving up and going to Thanos. This is really to let the series sync up with Infinity War, of course. The end of Warlock's negotiations with the Mole Man, and Thanos' arrival at the Infinity Watch's headquarters is also shown in Infinity Watch #1. And Thanos appears in that issue prior to this. So this story takes place concurrently with Infinity Watch #1.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAdam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Giganto (Subterranean), Man-Beast, Mole Man, Moondragon, Pip the Troll, Soul Gem, Thanos, Triax, Tricephalous
The third scan--Warlock taking out the guards one-by-one--is Angel Medina's homage to the way Starlin depicted Warlock taking out the guards on Autolycus's spaceship back in STRANGE TALES #179. The layout and artwork is almost identical. Not sure if that counts as a reference?
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 29, 2016 10:06 AM
No, i don't count art homages as references. But thanks for pointing it out.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 29, 2016 10:08 AM
I didn't think you did, but I wasn't sure.
Later in Infinity War, Warlock suspects the Magus sent him this dream as a way of taunting him. Assuming that's true, does that count as a Character Appearing?
(While I'm asking questions: if I find a character you missed, is that a "bring up in the forum" thing, or a "comment section is OK" thing?)
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 29, 2016 10:16 AM
In this case i'd consider that a possible behind-the-scenes appearance, and since it's not confirmed i wouldn't want to count it.
The forum is for obvious mistakes, so that we don't clutter up the comments section with things that most readers don't care about, and that become irrelevant once i've fixed them. For character listings, it can be a judgment call, and i won't mind either way. If i listed Warlock from New Mutants instead of Adam Warlock, it's a good bet that it was a mistake and the forum would be better (but i wouldn't mind so much if it were brought up here).
In a case like this with the Magus, bringing it up here is definitely better since it's a debatable point and now that debate is documented here as part of this entry. Creator credits fall into a similar category, since it's possible the actual credits are different than what's listed in the book.
But for obvious mistakes like typos, scan problems, or where i've just neglected to fill in a field, i'm trying to keep that stuff off the entries.
Thanks, everyone, for tolerating my analness about this. I'm just trying to keep the entries clean for good discussion.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 29, 2016 10:48 AM
I'm not buying that Mole Man escaped the reset because he was beneath the Earth and unknown to people- Nebula triggered the reset and she wasn't native to Earth. I could buy the Chain Gang in Cobweb's realm, the fake Marvel Boy in the Eonverse and the inhabitants of Counter Earth in the Beyonders' "museum" retaining their memories because they were outside of Eternity but this is ridiculous.
Posted by: Michael | March 29, 2016 8:20 PM
Yeah, even as a kid that bugged me. I think we're going to have to chalk up all the inconsistencies of the reset with Nebula's inexperience with omnipotence somehow screwing things up.
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 29, 2016 8:40 PM
To be fair, at the conclusion of the Infinity Gauntlet, didn't it state that some people retained their memories of the events that occurred? I believe that was in a narration box which featured fake-Thor.
Posted by: Bill | March 29, 2016 10:32 PM
Right, but still, one would think a pure 100% reset with what is essentially the power of God would prevent any recollection at all. So again, I'm going with Nebula somehow mucking things up. (Which is also why Strange was able to resist her "wish" with his own magic)
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 29, 2016 10:46 PM
Warlock comments that he battles a dead man when he fights Triax. That's a reference to the fact that Triax seemingly died in a fall in Warlock 4. (Really, Adam, you still haven't realized you should always check to see if they're really dead when a villain falls to his "death"?)
Posted by: Michael | March 29, 2016 11:58 PM
Added a reference, thanks Michael.
And since i'm commenting, i'll weigh in on the memory/reset thing with my No Prize attempt. Steve Englehart established that Subterranea is full of magic portals to other places. So when Mole Man found out about what Thanos was up to, he decided to hide out in another dimension, and so, like the Chain Gang and the others, was unaffected by the reset. As far as he's concerned, he considers everything that he can access in Subterranea to be "beneath the Earth's surface", and in any event he's not going to reveal all his secrets to Warlock.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 30, 2016 7:57 AM
Comments are now closed.
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