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Essential Warlock - Volume 1 Paperback – August 29, 2012
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This volume is divided into two roughly evenly-sized storylines. The first storyline, principally written by Roy Thomas and later Mike Friedrich, Ron Goulart and Gerry Conway, has Warlock becoming the adopted son of the god-like High Evolutionary. The High Evolutionary has just created - in a very short period of time - a new version of Earth (soon to be called Counter-Earth) in which he hopes that humanity will achieve a noble perfection. Unfortunately, one of the Evolutionary's evil creations, the Man-Beast, has tainted Counter-Earth.
Warlock convinces him not to destroy his handiwork and goes down to Counter-Earth to stop the Man-Beast. Soon, he gets his own followers and becomes a messianic figure. It doesn't take too much Bible knowledge to realize that Warlock is a Christ-parallel and the plotline is essentially the life of Jesus with guest appearances from the Hulk and Dr. Doom. It's a bit heavy-handed allegory - and not always well-written - and if this were everything in this volume, it'd be only three-star fare.
Fortunately, Jim Starlin comes in to save the day with his own take on religion. Warlock leaves Counter-Earth and travels to the stars, where he encounters the Magus, the god-like figure behind a nasty theocratic empire. Warlock soon enough discovers the truth about his new opponent: it is a future version of himself. As if this wasn't enough of a problem, soon Thanos will appear and establish himself as Warlock's true archenemy.
This storyline is much more well-written, with much more interesting characters. The addition of Pip the Troll adds a bit of needed levity, as Warlock himself is a deadly serious character. The Magus and Thanos make much more interesting enemies than the Man-Beast, and Gamora, the deadliest woman alive, adds a hint of romance.
One final note: if you have read Essential Avengers #8, you'll notice that a couple issues from that volume also appear here (which is appropriate, since they are key to both series). I am giving this volume five stars based on the merits of the Starlin material alone; the early stuff is merely average and skippable.
But the Jim Sarlin work is the main event. The Magus story is 70s Marvel at its best.