Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thanos and Warlock

Yesterday I started a capsule summary of Thanos, the guy who appeared at the end of the Avengers movie. Before I go on I have to backtrack and talk about Adam Warlock because the two appear in most of Jim Starlin's works (within the Marvel Universe).

It started when some scientists kidnapped the Thing's girlfriend, Alicia. She is blind and does sculptures by touch. The scientists had created a new lifeform which got away from them and started glowing. They needed Alicia to sculpt a model of it so that they knew what they were up against.

It turned out that the life form, known as "Him", was still in a cocoon. The FF rescued Alicia and the cocoon hatched revealing a perfect, gold-skinned man. Him, as he was still known, had no interest in helping the scientists and left the Earth.

Later Him decided that he needed a mate and grabbed the first pretty woman he saw. This was Thor's girlfriend, Sif. The two fought and Him retreated back into a cocoon.

He was still in his cocoon when he encountered the High Evolutionary, a highly evolved human with god-like powers. The High Evolutionary was creating a world without sin occupying Earth's orbit but opposite us. Unfortunately, one of the High Evolutionary's failures interfered. This was the Man-Beast, a human/wolf hybrid. He introduced original sin to Counter-Earth.

The High Evolutionary was going to scrap his project but Him offered to go to Counter Earth and clean up the mess. He emerged from his cocoon and was named Adam Warlock by the High Evolutionary and given a soul gem to replace the powers Adam lost by emerging early from the cocoon.

The story arc played out as a Jesus parable with Adam eventually being killed, forming a cocoon, and emerging again. After his resurrection, Adam reverted the Man-Beast and his minions to the animals they were created from. Adam then left the solar system. This is where Jim Starlin took over the character.

Starlin's run featured two story arcs. The first concerned the soul gem. The name was not poetic. It was semi-self-aware and could steal the soul from anyone at Warlock's command. The story arc concerned Warlock's battle to keep control over the gem.

The second arc concerned the Church of Universal Light and its god, the Magus. The church was brutal and the Magus turned out to be a mirror version of Adam Warlock. Warlock devoted himself to opposing Magus. Along the way he picked up a sidekick, Pip the Troll, and an ally, a mysterious green-skinned female assassin named Gamorra.

The Magus had his own goal. He was a future version of Warlock who had been transported to the past and he wanted to assure his continued existence. The two confronted each other and Magus started the chain of events that would turn Warlock evil.

Enter Thanos. The personification of death had deserted him after his defeat at Captain Marvel's hands but he was still Death champion and the Magus was Life's champion. Thanos's short-term goal was to prevent the Magus's creation. His first attempt had been the assassin, Gamorra. After she failed, he took matters into his own hands and engaged Magus in personal combat.

While this was going on, Warlock traveled into his own-near future and used his soul gem to take the life of his battered and beaten future self. The Magus vanished on the verge of defeating Thanos.

But this was only Thanos's short-term plan. His ultimate plan was to give such a gift to Death that she would take him back again. In addition to Warlock's gem, there were five other Infinity Gems of great power. Thanos siphoned off elements from them and built a cannon capable of destroying stars. He planned on starting with his home system, our sun.

Gamorra found out his plans and tried to stop him. Warlock found her dying and had his soul gem take her soul. As a joke, Thanos destroyed Pip's mind and Warlock took his soul, also.

The Avengers along with Captain Marvel and Warlock gathered to stop Thanos. They were able to destroy his cannon but Warlock was fatally injured and his soul taken. The rest of the Avengers were captured. Thanos decided that he could still use Warlock's gem to destroy one star, our sun, in the hope that it would be enough to satisfy Death.

Spider-Man and the Thing joined the fight and freed the Avengers. Thor and the Thing took on Thanos and lost but that gave Spider-Man enough time to free the soul gen from a crystal globe Thanos had put it in. An energy version of Warlock appeared from the gem and turned Thanos to stone.

Back inside the gem, it turned out to be a sort of paradise where Warlock was reunited with Gamorra, Pip, and others.

A few years later Captain Marvel died of cancer. At his last moment, Thanos appeared to him as Death's emissary so that he would have a warrior's death.

In the late-1990s, Starlin took over the Silver Surfer comic book. Soon after the Surfer had a vision of Death's minions releasing a soul who had been punished long enough. This was Thanos and he was sent back to change the balance between life and death (in Death's favor).

Thanos discovered that the Infinity Gems were far more powerful than he originally thought. When assembled they gave the holder total control over everything. Thanos succeeded in gathering the gems and mounted them on a glove which he named the Infinity Gauntlet. Unfortunately, this made Thanos more powerful than Death and, while she would have accepted him as an equal, she was miffed that he was her superior. They were never again on speaking terms.

Earth's assembled heroes opposed Thanos but were easily defeated. So were the universe's cosmic beings. But all of this was a distraction so that Thanos would not notice Warlock striking from within the Soul Gem. Warlock seized the Gauntlet and became the new ultimate power and Thanos fled.

The cosmic powers forced Warlock to break up the Gauntlet and to give the gems to guardians to prevent them being used again. He gave them to various Starlin creations including Gamorra, Pip, Moondragon, the Destroyer, and Thanos.

After the Infinity Gauntlet was reassembled to fight a new manifestation of the Magus, the cosmic powers decreed that it could never be used again.

Warlock and Thanos appeared in a few limited issue specials. In one of them, Thanos actually became God (not just the power of God through an external source). He saw that the universe was flawed because too many people had come back from the dead so he fixed it, expecting to be destroyed in the process. He survived but was returned to his original state.

So, that is what the Avengers will be facing in their next movie - a villain who is already powerful and plans big.

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