review–Dispatches by Michael Herr

Required reading. Michael Herr takes you under fire with him and the Marines. You’ll find yourself under siege at Khe Sahn, breath their sweat, the marijuana, the fear. Despite it all, it’ll be one of those places you can’t leave behind. There are the improbable stories of daredevil war photographers such as Tim Page and of all people the son of actor Errol Flynn, Sean. Spot on-observations abound, such as, “The Green Berets doesn’t count. That wasn’t about Vietnam, it was about Santa Monica.”

One of the most apt summaries of the war, filed while it was still going on, appears on pg. 200: “Somewhere on the periphery of that total Vietnam issue…there was a story that was as simple as it had always been, men hunting men, a hideous war and all kinds of victims. But there was also a Command that didn’t feel this, that rode us into attrition traps on the back of fictional kill ratios, and an Administration that believed the Command, a cross-fertilization of ignorance, and a press whose tradition of objectivity and fairness (not to mention self-interest) saw that all of it got space.” This book was hard to get through, not hard to read per se but harsh in its details, and may be the most honest book about the Vietnam War.

In Sudan, an agreement is emerging between civilians and soldiers — Archy Worldys

The leaders of the protest movement and the army hope to have found common ground Saturday, April 27 in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, the first step towards an exit from the political crisis that paralyzed the country for several months. ” We reached an agreement on a joint council between civilians and the army Ahmed […]

via In Sudan, an agreement is emerging between civilians and soldiers — Archy Worldys

Sudan. Darfur worried about new power — Archy Worldys

One week after the dismissal of Omar Al Bashir, the Sudanese people are still gaining ground. The army allegedly gave in to the street yesterday by transferring the former dictator to the infamous Kober prison in northern Khartoum. Ironically, it is in the sinister jails of this penitentiary that the old regime used to imprison […]

via Sudan. Darfur worried about new power — Archy Worldys

Golden Messiah: Jim Starlin steps in

Strange Tales #178-181, Warlock #9-11 (1975-1976)

You know your life has got to be pretty f—ed when the one who has to give you a pep talk is the Mad Titan Thanos. I have never met a hero so plagued with self-doubt as Adam Warlock. The depths of his self-recriminations exceed even those of Peter Parker, who honestly has better grounds for self-loathing. Besides which, the man has also died and been reborn more times than a Star Trek character.

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It was through the pages of Warlock that we all first encountered the Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy, Gamora, daughter of Thanos, before she was a Guardian of the Galaxy or a member of the infinity Watch. I hadn’t realized this until I reviewed my collection. Warlock no. 15 would also be the first time Gamora met Drax the Destroyer–that is, the time that Drax in his rage flew right into her ship and blew it to smithereens. I showed that page to my wife and son, and they reacted the same way: “Damn! Drax has no chill!”

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Writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane had repositioned Warlock as a Savior in his original comic book run. Jim Starlin was another kettle of fish. Sorting through story possibilities in the mid-1970’s, he became intrigued by the character of Adam Warlock. He would guide the strip through its second phase as both artist and scripter, while upending Adam’s role from Messiah into that of the Devil. Oh, he also gave him that funky cape.

Strange Tales V1 #178 (1975_2) - Page 17

Starlin presented a cosmos as psychedelic as the times in which they were published, his ideas broad-ranging while sprinkled with a subtle, warped sense of humor. Some of my favorite stories were penned and inked by Jim Starlin. It was he who introduced Thanos in Iron Man no. 55 in 1972, and transformed a mediocre Captain Marvel into a cosmically aware champion in Captain Marvel no. 29, 1973. The science may be exaggerated, off-kilter, but wasn’t that always the fun in old comic books? As I re-read his old tales, I’ve come to think of him as the Master of Exposition. Starlin can devote an entire two page spread to recaps and backdrop information dumps on all the evil-doings, in a way that’s both entertaining and vital to the tales unfolding.

There have been many blogs about the Magus Cycle already, so I’ll dispense with another in-depth analysis. But let me summarize; an unknown woman summons Adam Warlock. She dies needlessly at the hands of agents of the Church of Universal Truth, which forces him to use his Soul Gem to resurrect her soulless body and interrogate her. The enemy as they say in the old Pogo comic was ourselves. The all-powerful being Adam must defeat is called the Magus–Latin for wise man, magician, or Warlock. The enemy in fact is his own twisted future self. Every action he takes against the Magus, every step forward only seems to lead Adam down the dark path to his evil future.

He is joined in his quest by the ne’er do well troll Pip and, at Thanos’s direction, by Gamora. Equally problematic is the Soul Gem which was given him by the High Evolutionary. In Thomas & Kane’s hands it was a useful tool; in Starlin’s it has become a malignant presence with a vampiric thirst for souls.

st # 179 d of autoclys

Perhaps reflecting his own personal turmoil after his service in the Navy during the Vietnam War, Starlin’s stories incorporate themes of suicide and self-destruction against an omnipresent congregation. While Thanos engages the Magus, Warlock leaps into his own timeline and erases the path that leads to the Magus, but with that bargain seals his own death in two years’ time. Despite the fact that yes he was absolutely, utterly and definitively erased from history, well, the Magus will be back in one form or another. ‘Cos that’s what Starlin does, what any author does when you think about it–he always comes back to the characters he loves.

http://diversionsofthegroovykind.blogspot.com/2012/02/making-splash-jim-starlins-warlock.html

https://www.vulture.com/2019/04/jim-starlin-creator-of-infinity-war-thanos-hates-marvel.html

https://www.blackgate.com/2015/04/11/the-three-phases-of-marvels-adam-warlock-part-two-the-magus-saga/

Golden Messiah: Adam Warlock vs. the Star Thief

D-Warlock 14 cover

Warlock # 14, August 1976, art & story by Jim Starlin 

 

Funny the images that stick with you…

Warlock v1 - 14 - 15

I was a young lad of thirteen when I first saw this and now that I’ve re-read the series I’m finding it hard to get out of my mind. Clearly the science isn’t all up to snuff, but this is the kind of thing that just fires the imagination.

The stars have been vanishing not just from the evening sky but throughout the universe. The culprit, Adam Warlock discovers, is Barry Bauman, a bedridden man with infinite cosmic abilities. This man, rightly named the Star Thief, is deaf dumb blind comatose and under the constant care of a male nurse hired by his wealthy father. All these years and I never realized before–Star Thief is Tommy!

the who tommy

[If anyone doesn’t know the rock opera by The Who, you must look it up. Play the CD once, you’ll get it.]

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Photo 29 May 2013 11_20

Our golden-skinned hero is forced to undergo a series of trials testing his assertion that he is in fact a true Warlock. These take the form of beasts in the form of the classical elements–earth, air, water and fire. Although he was clearly a transitional villain, the filler between main events, I quite liked Star Thief, not only because he was supremely powerful but, he was also a royal smartass:

“The third threat will be aquatic. It’s a fearsome creature quite popular in the imaginations of our fellow Earthmen and…it’s sneaking up behind you.”

“WHAT?”

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Barry’s goal is to plunge the Earth into panic and chaos before he extinguishes our Sun as well. Problem one for Warlock is that he’s light years away from our solar system. In another of the many psychedelic twists artist-writer Jim Starlin prides himself on, to accomplish his mission our hero is forced to risk a trek through a black hole. [OK, I should mention that the science is often psychedelic BS but it is applicable to the plot.]

Warlock 14 into black hole

Once he makes the transit however, Adam Warlock faces a bigger problem. Seriously, which leads to one of the most intriguing applications of the Expanding Universe Theory in comic book history. Warlock has reached Earth but he cannot touch his enemy without destroying every other person on the planet.

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In the end he serves as enough of a distraction for Barry Bauman’s nurse to shake off his mental control and murder him. And Warlock’s colossal size, while intriguing, is not to last long. In fact by the time he meets up with Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up # 55 (March 1977) a few months later, by some cosmic reverse trick [or writer’s lapse], he is back to normal size, just in time for the last round-up. As it turns out, for the second time around…

Marvel Team-Up 55

https://www.npr.org/2019/04/11/712105501/sudans-military-says-it-has-taken-control-and-arrested-president-omar-al-bashir

Sudan’s Military Says It Has Taken Control And Arrested President Omar Al-Bashir

It’s about time. I’ve waited almost twenty years for that prick to either be overthrown or killed in office, the usual end for such dictators. In his thirty years in power, Omar al-Bashir is responsible for the genocide in Darfur as well as carrying on a war with his own people that only ended in 2005, ironically under the George W. Bush administration. While I’m amazed and grateful W’s people were able to bring an end to their 20-year conflict, his silence on Darfur was appalling.

The next few weeks will tell the tale on whether the overthrow of Bashir heralds real change or more of the same. Since its so-called independence in 1956, the people of the Sudan has been subjected to one military coup after another. Perhaps the infusion of young voices in the government would bring an improvement. Rescinding sharia law would also be welcome. Whether the latest coup-leaders permit any real change again will remain a wide-open question for now.

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Sudanese soldiers stand guard on armored vehicles as demonstrators protest against President Omar al-Bashir’s regime near the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum Thursday. [AFP/Getty Images]