Adam Warlock has been always a cosmic bridesmaid but never a cosmic bride. Adam Warlock helped usher in the modern era of cosmic Marvel Comics, but has been left out in the cinematic cold even though the bulk of his supporting cast have all played rolls in major Marvel films. Ayesha (from played by Elizabeth Debicki in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) was the latest Adam Warlock supporting player to arrive on the big screen. Ayesha, of course, teased Adam’s coming at the conclusion of that movie, but we won’t meet him until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, long after Avengers: Endgame has come and gone. For comic fans, it’s tough to imagine how an Avengers: Infinity War scale scenario can wrap up without him, but that’s how it will have to be.
In the comics, both Drax and Gamora were major players in the tale of Adam Warlock, and while they’ve since become household names, Adam Warlock remains relatively obscure outside of the comic reading community.
Without Adam Warlock, there would be no Infinity Gauntlet and no Thanos. Without Warlock the cosmic Marvel saga that has dovetailed into the Guardians of the Galaxy film franchise could have died on the vine. But still no movie love.
The character that would become Adam Warlock first appeared in Fantastic Four #66-67 (1967), which was plotted and drawn by Jack Kirby with a script by Stan Lee. Think about this now, in less than 20 issues, Kirby created Galactus, Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock, Black Panther, and the Inhumans. Hot damn. Of all those magnificent creations, Warlock was the least explored…at least at first. Warlock didn’t even have a proper noun for a name during his first comic book appearances, the being that would fight Thanos and become Marvel’s greatest cosmic champion was simply known as Him. This probably caused all sorts of confusion at the Marvel offices.
Kirby: Stan, I thought of a new concept. Him!
Kirby: No, Him!
Lee: Who’s Him?
Kirby: My creation.
Lee: What Creation?
Kirby: No, Him.
Lee: Who Him?
Kirby: Third Base!
Anyway, Him was created by a cadre of evil scientists known as the Enclave. The Enclave worked out of a base call the Beehive. The scientists of the Enclave found a way to grow organic life inside of a strange cocoon (yes, it looked a lot like the one in the Collector’s gallery). When it opened, a being of immense power and beauty emerged. The Enclave lost control of their creation and the Fantastic Four soon investigated and encountered Him for the first time.
The Fantastic Four was astonished by Him’s overwhelming energy powers and had a hard time subduing the creation. By story’s end, Him destroyed the Beehive and all within it, seemingly ending his own life in the process. But like all the great Kirby creations, he (Him? Third base!) would pop up once again in the pages of Thor for his first of countless adventures in the larger Marvel Universe. In fact, Him isn’t explored much as a character past his Frankenstein like origin and vengeful escape. Due to this, many people think the Thor issues are truly the first real appearances of Adam Warlock. We’ll leave that nerd debate for another time.
In this Thor story (also by Kirby and Lee), readers find out Him wasn’t destroyed and has emerged from his cocoon. Him desires a mate and runs into Lady Sif. Him absconds with Sif and clashes with a fighting mad Thor, and yeah, this story is structured like a typical Popeye versus Bluto cartoon, but hey, it has some explosive Kirby pencils so just read it.
By the way, every time I’ve used the name Him in this paragraph, Word is hitting me with the blue underline demanding that I change it to He. Sorry Word, you cannot set rules to the power of Kirby! Anyway, by the end of this tale, Thor defeats Him who decides to renter his cocoon explore the stars, and thus begins the cosmic saga of Adam Warlock.
In Marvel Premiere #1 (1972), writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane begin relating the stories of Him’s space adventures. Him changes his name to Adam Warlock and finds himself on Counter Earth, a duplicate of Earth on the opposite side of the sun created by the being known as the High Evolutionary. Inspired by Jesus Christ Superstar, Thomas and Kane transformed him into a celestial messiah and the more recognizable version of the character was born.
His solo title, The Power of Warlock, became a must read cosmic mind trip a few years later when Marvel’s greatest cosmic creator of the ’70s Jim Starlin came on board. Under Starlin, Gamora, Drax, and Thanos all became part of the Warlock mythos and would fuel the cosmic side of Marvel for many decades to come. During his solo run, Warlock bonded with the nigh omnipotent Soul Gem and became the sworn enemy of the Mad Titan Thanos. With the Soul gem, Warlock became one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, and that’s right kids, it’s the very same Gem that brought Vision to life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So even Warlock’s weapon has played a major part in the MCU…but still no Warlock.
Warlock was a core part of the Infinity Gauntlet saga, and he and Thanos became something of Marvel’s cosmic Yin and Yang. If we were going to cover every vital Warlock moment in the Marvel Universe, we would have to write like 12000 words. Let’s just say that with his Soul Gem, his complex bond with Thanos, his time as a member of the modern day Guardians of the Galaxy, and his status as one of Marvel’s heavyweight cosmic players, and his role as leader of the Infinity Gem guarding Infinity Watch with Pip, Gamora, and Drax, it’s very clear that Warlock is and was a very big deal.
As we know, the Infinity Gauntlet, Gamora, Drax, and the Guardians all became indelible parts of the MCU…but still no Warlock.
Let’s go back to Him’s abduction of Sif. Him wanted a mate and was even willing to take on Thor to obtain one (what, no intergalactic Tinder?). Little did Warlock know that on Earth, a potential mate was being constructed for him (or Him).
In The Incredible Hulk Annual #6 (1977) by Len Wein, David Kraft and Herb Trimpe, the wacky Enclave was at it again and created a being that went by the name Paragon. This new creation (who was in male form) battled the Hulk until it, like Warlock, turned on the Enclave. Realizing that it wasn’t fully formed, Paragon went back into its cocoon.
Boy, the Enclave were kind of suckers, huh?
“Hey guys, let’s make another proto-human with uncontrollable powers, nothing could possibly go wrong this time!” Dopes.
Paragon emerged from its cocoon in Marvel Two-in-One #61 (1980) by Mark Gruenwald and Jerry Bingham. This time, the unexpected happened as the being transformed into a golden skinned female and took the name Her. Her vows to find and mate with Adam Warlock (because if your name is a pronoun and you were born out of a mad science cocoon, I guess you want to shack up with the only other being in the universe whose name is a pronoun that was born out of a mad science cocoon). The only problem was that Adam Warlock was dead at this time. You see, to help defeat Thanos, Warlock had temporarily killed himself in some kind of weird, trippy, existential cosmic suicide sort of thing. Heartbroken at finding Warlock’s grave, Her flew off into space to find her destiny.
As often happens in comics, Warlock got better. After the Infinity Gauntlet saga where Warlock had to battle the Infinity Gem wielding Thanos, Her returned to find her destined mate. Warlock decided he no longer needed Her, but this time, the cocoon created beauty decided that she would hold a contest to find a mate worthy of her love. Her forced a number of heroes into a contest so she could choose the most worthy. Now, we’re not going to outright say that Her’s tastes were suspect but…no, wait, yes we are. Her chose Wonder Man, Hyperion, Hercules, Doc Samson, Ikaris, and Gilgamesh to be the candidates for her new beau. It was like The Bachelor but instead of some awful waspy rich dude choosing a mate, it was a gold skinned cocoon woman in a red bathing suit. Seriously? Not Thor, not Namor, not Captain America – Gilgamesh?
Anywho, Her chose Quasar and the two shared a number of adventures even if the Cosmic Protector of the Marvel Universe was a little bit wary about the whole cosmic life mate business. During this time, Her changed her name to Kismet and took part in the Operation Galactic Storm crossover.
A few years after departing from Quasar (I guess there was some sort of breakup, or an it’s not you it’s me sort of thing), Kismet was again mind controlled by villains from the island nation of Genosha. There, she took the name Ayesha and fought the Fantastic Four. So now you know how Ayesha from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 connects to all this craziness, too. I guess it makes sense that they’d have trouble squeezing all this in to a movie on the scale of Avengers: Infinity War.
So there you go. As for Adam Warlock? Well, we’ll meet him on screen eventually.