Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: Warlock & the Infinity Watch #7

Warlock & the Infinity Watch #7, "The Island!" Cover Date August, 1992
Written by Jim Starlin, Penciled by Tom Raney, Inked by Terry Austin

Warlock Infinity Watch 7

Proving that time is a flat circle, the early 90’s saw a revival of several failed “cosmic” heroes from the 70’s, including Adam Warlock, a Lee/Kirby creation that hadn’t been seen since his psychedelic Jim Starlin series was canceled in the late 70’s. In the wake of the Infinity Gauntlet series of 1991, Warlock returned, and was given a series that teamed him up with a few cosmic oddball characters, including Gamorra, an assassin raised by Thanos, Drax, a hulking muscle-dude created to kill Thanos, Pip, a wise-cracking troll creature, and Moondragon, a bald psychic known for being extremely abrasive. Sounds pretty familiar in 2015, doesn’t it?

Moondragon Drax Infinity Watch
The Hudson family is pretty dysfunctional.
The team is on an island, having recently dealt with Warlock’s old enemy the Man-Beast. Warlock has a nightmare of the Magus, while Moondragon tries to re-connect with Drax, a man who had her father’s brainwaves that she apparently killed once. For her, “re-connecting” means dropping a big rock on him for fun. The group’s reverie is interrupted by giant monsters, as the team realizes they’re on “Monster Island,” the home of some of Marvel’s old monster comics characters, including “Vandroom” and “Tricephalous” (sometimes it’s incredible the lengths Marvel’s editorial went through to fold these crazy stories into continuity, but Groot is one of those old monsters, so I guess it all worked out).

Moondragon Drax beach
To be fair to Moondragon, she is appropriately dressed for the beach.
They quickly realize the giant monsters aren't there to fight them, but to lead them to a spooky castle, where they find Pip, who collapses over a goblet of wine. The Mole Man appears, and explains that he offered some wine to the troll, who proceeded to down four bottles. Mole Man invites the team to a feast, where he sells them on the idea of using Monster Island as a permanent base. Moondragon tells Warlock that Mole Man has a reputation as a loser, causing the Mole Man to brag about his underground achievements, and explain that he’s made powerful enemies and could use friends. He offers the team Monster Island as a sort of headquarters, complete with monster guards. Warlock seems intrigued, while Gamorra opposes the idea. The group agrees in principle to work with Mole Man, when Warlock senses an intruder. In comes Thanos, who says he’s come for Warlock’s help. TO BE CONTINUED!

Infinity Watch 7 Monster Island
"I wish we were going to Candy Apple Island!"
"Why, whatta they got there?"
"Monsters. But they're not so big."


Pip Warlock Infinity Watch
Pip gets alcohol poisoning.
I hadn’t read much Warlock beyond the 70’s series and the Infinity Gauntlet, in part because I find him to be extremely dull as a protagonist. I guess I hadn’t counted on how entertaining his team is. In just this issue, we get that Drax is a dangerous but loveable goof; Pip is the funny guy, Moondragon is a conflicted but pretty irritating powerhouse; and Gamorra is… also pretty boring, but three out of five ain’t bad. Starlin has always had a soft-spot for these characters, and does a solid job getting the humor across throughout, from Moondragon and Drax’s interactions to Pip’s fake-out being poisoned, to Mole Man’s delusions of grandeur (he says that Warlock and he would be “fellow potentates”), the book is consistently funny.

Pip Infinity Watch Gamorra coffee
Where is the Mole Man getting his coffee?
The art is maybe a bit too cartoonish. There’s a lot of facial expressions, but there’s also a lot of ridiculous anatomy, and Moondragon’s costume is just beyond bizarre. I don’t have a problem with Namorita fighting evil in a swimsuit, but why is a character with only mental powers wearing a swimsuit that someone cut pieces out of? Tom Raney does a nice job doing a version of some classic Kirby monsters, and some of the panels have nice detail. Then again, quite a few panels have no backgrounds at all, while a few have the trendy-at-the-time “colored lines” in the background. The close-up of Thanos’s ugly mug that ends the issue is pretty memorable though, and feels like something Starlin set up in design if not execution.

Thanos Infinity Watch 7 Ending
Thanos shows up late and doesn't bring anything to Mole Man's BBQ.
All in all, it turns out WatIW is a fun little comic. Its art hasn’t aged particularly well, but the writing is sharp and the characters are interesting.


  1. INFINITY WATCH was a weird series. For much of its existence, it seemed to serve only as a companion book to Starlin's INFINITY crossovers, either killing time between them or participating directly in them.

    Issues 1 - 7 come out of the INFINITY GAUNTLET and basically tell the story of the team's formation. This issue leads into INFINITY WAR #1 and 8 - 10 are crossovers with that series. 11 - 17 fill more time between crossovers, then 18 - 22 are direct continuations of INFINITY CRUSADE's issues. Then 23 goes immediately into Thor's notorious "Blood and Thunder" storyline. The series finally becomes crossover free with issue 26, but Starlin quites after #31, partway through a storyline (he seems almost as temperamental as John Byrne sometimes).

    The book somehow lasted all the way up to #42, but I really only think 1 - 22 are necessary reading. Starlin sort of loses his way after the INIFNITY stuff ends. I think he really only wanted to write Thanos, but Marvel probably wasn't comfortable with him headlining his own ongoing series in the nineties, so he was stuck with Warlock -- who I like, but who, I agree, can be a bit of a boring stick-in-the-mud. This Warlock is never as interesting as the tormented soul Starlin wrote about in the seventies. He's too aloof and businesslike in INFINITY WATCH (which makes sense given revelations in INIFINITY WAR, but doesn't make for a particularly compelling character).

    I do love the supporting characters, though. And the artwork in the early issues, split between Tom Raney and Angel Medina, is usually pretty good. Energetic, at least, if not always anatomically correct. Though neither of them could keep Warlock on model. Ron Lim always drew the perfect Starlin-inspired Warlock in the INFINITY mini-series, then you'd pick an IW issue and see him with weird stringy long hair that just looked wrong. The best Warlock seen in the early parts of this series came from fill-in artist Rick Leonardi a few issues prior to this.

    I agree that Moondragon's costume is ridiculous. And while it was always basically the same design, it had become far, far less modest by the nineties, making her look like an Image character. I love it anyway, though.

    1. It really shows how different the industry was that a project like this lasted 42 issues. I do really like Starlin's writing here, but I don't think even constant crossover tie-ins ever made the book a big seller. I have to imagine Infinity Crusade didn't do huge business as a crossover; I was totally fine with no more Warlock crossovers after "War."It doesn't help that every War crossover is functionally just a fight scene between a hero and his ersatz equivalent as designed by Todd McFarlane.

    2. The INFINITY WAR crossover issues not written by Starlin are pretty bad. Really, all you need is the core series itself and you get the complete story. Starlin's other stuff fleshes some things out between panels, but nothing is lost if you miss them. And pretty much all the other series' issues that participated in the storyline are barely worth the cost paper they were printed on.

      But, regarding the core story alone, I loved INFINITY WAR as a kid. It was my introduction to Jim Starlin, Adam Warlock, and Thanos. I only picked up the first issue because it had all those heroes on the cover, but I got much more out of it than the all-star superhero slugfest I had hoped for. I actually prefer WAR over GAUNTLET because it's a little more fun and less bleak.

      CRUSADE, however, was... not so great. I remember being psyched for it on the tails of WAR, and being massively disappointed for two reasons: one, unlike GAUNTLET and WAR, it continued directly through Starlin's other two series, so rather than one simple six-issue mini by Starlin and Lim with supplementary "behind the scenes" chapters in the other books, it was basically a bloated eighteen-part slog. Which brings us to item two, which is that the story just wasn't very good. The Goddess was lame, her plan was lame, and I just think Starlin was getting burnt out on all this stuff, going through the motions.

      But INFINITY GAUNTLET, INFINITY WAR, and the corresponding issues of INFINITY WATCH are all terrific.