Review by Frank Plowright
Roy Thomas began with an ambitious idea. When orbiting the sun directly opposite Earth, the High Evolutionary constructs a planet he names Counter-Earth. He aims to accelerate evolution to the 20th century, having populated his planet with beings free from human failings, but unfortunately the effort takes its toll. As he sleeps, the Man-Beast, a result of previous genetic tinkering, introduces all the faults the High Evolutionary intended to avoid. Enter Adam Warlock, then not yet named, a golden-skinned being himself the result of genetic manipulation, and previously seen in the Fantastic Four. Warlock petitions on behalf of the planet, asking to be given the chance to undo the Man-Beast’s work by restoring harmony.
Yes, the allegory is obvious, Thomas was never one to under-write, and the striving to be hip 1970s dialogue has dated terribly. On the other hand, the ambition deserves recognition, and with some fine Gil Kane art, the opening chapters have a spirit to them as Warlock gathers some followers, and sets about his task.
Shortly after, the wheels come off. The writing is handed over to Mike Friedrich, who has little interest in following Thomas’ vision. His introduction of a saintly Victor Von Doom and a Reed Richards who transforms into a rampaging brute had some merit, but that’s about his only decent concept. Attempts at stringing readers along with the identity of a manipulative villain are woeful, the plotting mediocre, and after the delights of Gil Kane art, no mustard is cut by Bob Brown.
Unsurprisingly, Warlock’s title was cancelled and the conclusion occurred in the pages of The Hulk. Gerry Conway returned to Thomas’ original concept, hammering the idea home with a faux crucifixion scene followed by a resurrection of sorts. With Herb Trimpe art, it’s a step up from the previous pages, but only slightly. Much better was to come in volume 2.