Marvel Premiere #1 – Reviews Of Old Comics
I’m bound and determined to get the most out of my Marvel Unlimited membership. When looking for something to review, I looked at the 1980s Defenders that got rid of the “non-team” status of the membership. I also looked at the Marvel magazines of the early 1980s. I took a look at the full list of Marvel titles available on Marvel Unlimited and saw Legion of Monsters catch my eye. That’s where I got to here.
I didn’t know that there was a Legion of Monsters comic. The only memory that I have of the “group” was in a single issue of Marvel Premiere. Actually, it was Marvel Premiere #28 that featured the Legion of Monsters. That sparked me to try and give some of the horror characters that the title gave tryouts. It turns out that aside from the Legion of Monsters, Satana was the only original horror-themed character that got a chance in Marvel Premiere. However, looking at the issues available, the first couple featuring Adam Warlock came to my attention, due to the cover obviously by Gil Kane.
Gil Kane’s artwork remains a favorite of mine. I first became aware of his work in Sword of the Atom. Of course, before I could differentiate between artists, I saw his work in a book and record reprint of a Spider-Man story. I think it featured Morbius. I’ll get more into why I love his artwork in the review. Needless to say, once I saw that the beginning of Adam Warlock’s saga on Counter-Earth was drawn by Gil Kane meant I had found my next old comic to review.
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Gil Kane
Inker: Dan Adkins
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Concealed in an asteroid, the High Evolutionary’s ship returns to the solar system. He soliloquizes about his past creating the Neo-Men of Wundagore, evolved from animals. Unfortunately, when he used a wolf, he created an evil being called the Man-Beast. With the help of Thor, the High Evolutionary exiled the Man-Beast and his evil Neo-Men to deep space. When his other Neo-Men proved a problem, he enlisted the aid of the Hulk. He also used his machines on himself. Thus evolved, he tried to become one with the cosmos, but soon found the Loneliness too much and donned his armor again and returned to Earth.
His last loyal Neo-Man, Sir Raam, alerts him of a floating cocoon they have come across. The High Evolutionary brings it inside, and begins to communicate with the being inside. Created by evil scientists as the perfect human known only as Him, he faced the Fantastic Four and Thor before creating another cocoon for himself to reach his full potential. The High Evolutionary will leave him to it, but in communication with such a kindred being, he shares his plan to create a Counter-Earth, free of the evil that plagues humanity.
The High Evolutionary creates his Counter-Earth directly opposite the Earth in its orbit around the sun. He escalates its evolution, both geologic and biologic. However, as he prepares to rid man of evil instinct, he succumbs to exhaustion. At this moment his ship is boarded by the Man-Beast and his forces. He kills Sir Raam and takes over the evolution of Counter-Earth. He escalates the evil in men creating a world devoid of hope, ravaged by war.
The High Evolutionary awakens and confronts the Man-Beast physically. He is superior to the Man-Beast and can easily dispatch his army, but when the Man-Beast uses his mental powers to attack, and his army attacks in unison, he is overwhelmed by sheer numbers.
This sparks Him to emerge from the cocoon to aid the High Evolutionary. His powers have given him new armor and he leaps to confront the Man-Beast’s forces. They teleport away to Counter-Earth. The Man-Beast telepathically boasted his plan to terrorize Counter-Earth to the High Evolutionary. Before its creator can destroy it, Him begs for the chance to save the sparks of hope in the humanity of Counter-Earth. The High Evolutionary teleports Him to Counter-Earth, giving him an emerald gem on his forehead to aid him. (SPOILER: It’s the Soul Gem) As he sends him away he renames the one he sees almost as a son “Warlock.”
Roy Thomas really does some of his best verbosity in this comic. With the need for exposition aplenty, he is able to do it in a way that is engaging to the reader. It’s also exactly the amount of exposition to give the reader all he or she needs to get emotionally invested when the Man-Beast attacks. He also helps us feel some sympathy and/or admiration for the High Evolutionary. His motives have not always placed him as an ally to our heroes. Here, Roy Thomas is able to make us see him as a mentor to Adam Warlock as he begins his hero’s journey.
As I said, I love Gil Kane’s artwork. As time went on, his style evolved into one of the more dynamic ones of the Silver Age. Going into the Bronze age, you could fully know what you were going to get from a Gil Kane comic. There are a few upward shots, but Gil Kane could nail the perspective on that. He manages to humanize the High Evolutionary, primarily through “camera” angles. He does give the character expressiveness while he’s in full face armor . The Neo-Men are believable, although is more from Kane giving them more human proportions, although Man-Beast sometimes resembles a man in a mask.
Warlock’s new armor is iconic, and lasted until the character’s first death in 1977’s Avengers Annual #7. In the few places it was rendered, the lightning bolt symbol moves a little, but it’s unclear if that was Gil Kane or Dan Adkins. I’m very pleased with the art, although at times there are minor flaws and apparent shortcuts. They don’t get in the way of the storytelling, and that’s the most important aspect of great comic book art. It has to tell the story.
This comic was collected in several places. It has been reprinted in 2002’s Marvel Visionaries: Gil Kane (ISBN: 978-0785108887), 2008’s Annihilation Classic (ISBN: 978-0785134107), 2011’s Marvel Firsts: The 1970s Volume 1 (ISBN: 978-0785163800), 2012’s Essential Warlock Volume 1 (ISBN: 978-0785163312), and Marvel Masterworks: Warlock Volume 1 (ISBN: 978-0785188582) . This comic is available digitally on Marvel Unlimited and Comixology.
If you’re looking for a copy, relatively speaking, you shouldn’t have to pay too much, depending on the condition. It can get pricey, especially as the grading gets higher. Given the age, it may be harder to locate.
Final Rating: 9.0 (out of 10)