Comics

Ultimate Power – Looking at Warlock (2004)

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Warlock, published in 2004 which has never been collected before, is a four issue series by Marvel Comics written by Greg Pak with art by Charlie Adlard who as many know draws the Walking Dead.  It is a miniseries that was supposed to possibly be an ongoing at the time, but due to sales lasted only as long as it did.  As such, Pak managed to tie everything up beautifully though did leave it open for future storylines which never materialized anywhere.

Warlock or Adam Warlock was a character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby many years before.  Since that time, he has been chronicled by many people including Jim Starlin who wrote some of his most definitive adventures as well as Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning who have reintroduced him into Marvel’s cosmic universe.  In-between all of that, Greg Pak gave Warlock a shot with some interesting results.  This series did not star the classic version of the character, but a new reiteration.  Science group the Beehive is still around but this time they are trying out a different method to produce a new and improved Warlock, one that will follow their commands and one who is superior to the previous model in all aspects.  As the series progresses, not everything goes according to plan and once carefully laid out designs all come crashing down in the end with a wonderful twist by Pak.

Familiar as the tale may be, it also poses some big questions that were raised in other series, mainly – what would one do with ultimate power?  Grant Morrison wrote about it in JLA as did Geoff Johns in JSA All-Stars and it was tackled in the Authority and more recently in AVX by Brian Michael Bendis. It seems a simple answer that if a person or group had ultimate power would it not make sense to do the ultimate good no matter the cost?  Most people might say yes, but depending on religions and differing theologies, many would say no.  Should child-rapists be left to live, genocidal dictators left to rule, slavers left to profit off of human misery and many other terrible scenarios be left intact all for the sake of certain people’s beliefs?  Would the cost of one person’s soul not be a fair price to pay for ending the world’s atrocities?  It seems like such a simple issue but others would say it is not a simple issue whatsoever.  It all comes down to who has the power, who is in charge of the power and exactly what would be done with it.  Without knowing it, this simple super-hero tale ends up making the reader think of all of these things and more.  Clever on the part of Pak, as well as creating a small and overlooked masterpiece of modern comic book storytelling that should have found a wider audience.

This series can most likely be found in any quarter bin in any comic store.  Again, it was hugely overlooked by the general populace which is a shame as it is a marvellous little story in more ways than one.

5 out of 5

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