Saturday, December 29, 2012

"The End" Week: Warlock and the Infinity Watch #42!

We saw Malibu Comics Rune giving the Silver Surfer the hassle some time ago, and in passing the alien vampire jacked the Infinity Gems from Adam Warlock and the Infinity Watch. A scene sort of but not really reprised in their last issue, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #42, "Win, Lose, Draw!" Written by John Arcudi, pencils by Mike Gustovich, inks by Keith Williams.

Warlock's "landlord," the Mole Man, is moving his creatures to the caverns below Monster Island; since a tidal wave is coming from the Atlantis Rising crossover. That was one of several smaller Marvel crossovers of the day, and was about as popular as a rash. Luckily for him, Warlock says he has more important matters to attend to: his mysterious teammate, Maxam.

I think Maxam was seen here and there in the backgrounds in Infinity Crusade and "Blood and Thunder." Big guy, red and blue costume, inexplicable pink goggles? Ringing a bell? He had a grab bag of superpowers: increasing his mass for super-strength and invulnerability, resistance to telepathy. He now had the Time Gem that had formerly been carried by Gamora.

For her part, Gamora is being encouraged to get the gem back, by Thanos; who claims to have repented and wants to use the gem to correct his mistakes...a remark that is certainly open to interpretation. Gamora had also previously had a vision of Maxam killing Warlock, but no one was sure why he would do that, not even Maxam, until now: he remembers that he's from a future, where Warlock became the Magus, head of the Universal Church of Truth, a generally unpleasant galactic theocracy/cult. Maxam wants to kill Warlock, to preclude that possibility; but Warlock points out the Magus has been banished to the Soul World inside the Soul Gem. Not good enough for Maxam.
(My recollection was a little rusty on this point, since like Warlock, I thought he had prevented the Magus from forming the Church. Yes, but as Starlin revealed in Warlock #11, if Warlock/Magus didn't found the Church, some other asshole would've, and probably did. Like a bad penny or the "Days of Future Past" storyline, the Universal Church of Truth has turned up again and again...)

Although bedridden and possibly even comatose, Moondragon is still in telepathic contact with Warlock, and suggests leaving Maxam to the oncoming tidal wave. Unable to resolve the situation otherwise, Warlock reluctantly agrees that fate will have to decide the matter. Which it does, as all the Infinity Gems disappear! (As seen in Rune/Silver Surfer, although there we see Rune taking the Time Gem from Gamora, not Maxam...but we see the gem disappear from both here? Huh?) Without the Time Gem, Maxam is again immune to telepathy; and as he bellows, without the Soul Gem, Warlock doesn't have a prayer.
Still, Maxam is surprised that Warlock is a formidable, even fierce fighter; but Maxam far overpowers him. Warlock is on the ropes when the tidal wave hits, and Maxam recovers first. Finding Warlock's unconscious body, Maxam snaps his neck. I sometimes think you would be hard pressed to find a Warlock comic he doesn't die in...

Maxam obviously feels guilty over murdering his friend, but this was a kill-baby-Hitler thing for him. Afterwards, he disappears; possibly returning to his future...or maybe having corrected his timeline. Maybe not, since of course Warlock isn't dead: even without the gems, he and Moondragon had set up a "program" for Maxam. Which almost sorta-kinda explains Gamora's vision; she was seeing what Maxam saw, a dead Warlock.

Thanos decides to go looking for the gems, with Gamora reluctantly chaperoning him. I'm not sure they made any headway with that, but Warlock would follow the trail to the Ultraverse in Curse of Rune and Ultraverse Unlimited #1. I know I've read some of those, but couldn't tell you how it turned out off the top of my head...

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