Friday, 1 October 2010

Incredible Hulk #177. The death of Adam Warlock

Incredible Hulk #177, Death of Adam Warlock, Man-Beast, Counter Earth, Herb Trimpe(Cover from July 1974.)

"Peril Of The Plural Planet!"

Written by Gerry Conway.
Drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Inked by Jack Abel.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
Colours by L Lessmann.

If history repeats itself first as tragedy and then as farce, it seems it can also rerun itself as an XTC song and a super-hero action adventure, as Adam Warlock gets to play Peter Pumpkinhead and the Hulk gets to play...

Doing his usual thing, the Hulk escapes the Man-Beast's captivity but not before the villain's planted a tracking device in Bruce Banner's neck so the Hulk'll lead him to Adam Warlock and his followers. That plan having succeeded, the Man-Beast captures Banner and Warlock and then, before a national television audience, executes Warlock on the White House lawn.

It'd be lovely to say this story's New Testament echoes add a depth and resonance to it that turns it into the classic it clearly wants to be but the truth is it hits you so hard over the head with them they merely create a distancing effect that leaves your heart sinking with every outbreak of Jesusitis. We get the Hulk as inadvertent Judas, a re-enactment of the Last Supper and finally Warlock crucified while calling out, "High Evolutionary -- why have you abandoned me?"

From what I've seen of the original Warlock run, the biblical side of it was its weakest element and presumably therefore a major contributor to the strip's commercial demise. That in mind, if the Warlock storyline was to be tied off in these pages, it would've been a whole lot better to drop those elements and do something new with it. Gerry Conway may have been credited as writer on this issue but, as the thing was edited by Roy Thomas and he was the one who injected the Biblical element into Warlock's own comic, I suppose you have to assume he was the guilty party here and that, no matter how badly the approach had failed in Warlock's own mag, Thomas just wasn't willing to let it go.

The one good thing about this issue is the Man-Beast looks a lot more menacing and a lot less cuddly than he did last month. But, in the end, the greater appeal of the Man-Beast alone is sadly not enough to overcome the alienating weight of the story's references.


Aaron said...

Unfortunately crucifixion reenactments have a way of never coming off as anything but heavyhanded, like in the Green Lantern/Green Arrow story with that environmental Jesus-y guy - though there are definitely some brilliant Adam Warlock stories. I seem to remember one that I think was called "1,000 Clowns" I remember really digging back when.

The Cryptic Critic said...

I agree. Those Jim Starlin Warlock stories were great. Mostly because he was happy to subvert Warlock's Messiah Complex rather than reinforce it.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts with Thumbnails