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Strange Tales #179: Review

Apr 1975
Jim Starlin, Jim Starlin

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Death ship

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Strange Tales #179 Review by (April 24, 2020)
Pip Gofern the Troll is a Laxidasian. Other Laxidasians we see in the main timeline are Skunge in Nebula's gang in Avengers #255-260 and Glib Arkanian in some issues of the 2 Captain Marvel series starring Mar-Vell's son Genis-Vell.
In Warlock #12 Pip will relate his life story. Laxidasians are normally more averagely humanoid, but Prince Gofern was a stunted version due to centuries of inbreeding. 1 day he fell in with some Trolls who taught him the virtues of drunkenness and debauchery. The next day he had turned into a Troll and has never looked back since.
Pip will become Warlock's on-off sidekick, especially in issues written by Jim Starlin, which of course will bring him frequently into contact with Thanos.

Autolycus is a Sark. Another such named Egeus will appear in Warlock #9. In the alternate future of the 30th Century Guardians Of The Galaxy a Sark called Wileaydus Autolycus will become a Spirit Of Vengeance and join the Galactic Guardians.
In Avengers Annual #7 he will turn up alive in Soul World inside the Soul Gem, along with others whose souls have been eaten by the Gem.

The vampiric Soul Gem is taking us into the territory of Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné with his sentient sword Stormbringer which is also aptly called Stealer Of Souls. Next issue we will learn that, like Elric and Stormbringer, Warlock now needs the Soul Gem to survive.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Strange Tales #179 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue Adam Warlock learned of the Universal Church Of Truth with its God Magus and its temporal leader the Matriarch who have swept the Galaxy 'persuading' everyone to join and killing those who won't. Then the Magus revealed that he himself is Warlock.

In this issue Adam deduces that Magus couldn't kill him without killing himself (ie as will be confirmed later Magus is a future version of Warlock who went back into the past to create the Church). He muses now that even if he defeats Magus the evil must still be within himself. So suicide may be the only option (?).

But the philosophising must take a back seat when a huge spaceship comes after him. Warlock responds by attacking. The ship fires its phasers at force 5 ...

... and the next thing Adam knows he's a prisoner in chains before Captain Autolycus of the space-ark Great Divide, who leaves him among a horde of other strangely-shaped menacing inmates speaking multiple alien languages. He uses the Soul Gem to scan their minds to learn their languages. And the aliens turn out to be friendly. They explain that they are survivors of worlds that were destroyed for refusing to join the Church. Such folk are turned into slaves. But those here were found unproductive and are destined to be killed, and their bodies mined for useful elements. They also say that the Church values only standard humanoids because the Magus used to be such.

Enter Pip the Troll who says that his folk are also considered undesirable even though humanoid. He claims it is because of their stubborn independence, but Adam ventures that it is their lack of morals. Pip acknowledges Trolls' famous decadence. He suggests he could use cunning to escape this prison-ship, but most of the other inmates are to slow or clumsy to succeed. Warlock commends him for not wanting to leave his comrades behind. But Pip corrects him - he meant that the guards won't notice or bother about 1 escaped Troll, but they'd come after a mass breakout.

'Universes' away the Matriarch gets news of Warlock's capture. She knows that Adam is Magus' other self and must not be harmed. But she thinks to herself that if Warlock met with an 'accident' then this would kill the Magus too, leaving *her* in sole power. So she sends a seemingly innocent message Autolycus which he correctly deciphers as an order to kill Warlock. The Captain is an honourable Black Knight of the Church, but he must obey an order.

In the dungeon the prisoners ask Warlock to lead them but he refuses. He says he has been a leader before and knows the perils of power. (He probably refers to his career on Counter-Earth in his own series where some of his followers and allies died.) So he tells them a (obviously invented) story of early cavemen on Earth. Grak was the strongest of his tribe and with some cronies he took charge, and after that he always took whatever he wanted. But Bak and his friends mutinied and killed Grak. Then Bak became leader and took whatever *he* wanted.

Adam proposes a new order in which everyone rules himself. The prisoners don't understand and go off to stage their own revolt. Pip is left with Warlock, who then breaks out of his chains and disappears. The revolutionaries are faced with a laser battery, but Warlock KO's the operators. Autolycus orders the prison area sealed and flooded with V-Gas. But Warlock stops that and sends a warning to the Captain over the intercom. Autolycus sends all his soldiers in and Warlock disposes of them 1 or 2 at a time.

Finally Warlock faces Autolycus himself. As a Black Knight he has been enhanced and trained and Adam acknowledges that he is a match for him. The Captain urges Warlock to escape because he has no wish to kill him, but if they fight then he must obey orders and do so. As they battle Adam tries to persuade Autolycus that he serves a false God. Autolycus in his turn tries to give his foe a clean death. Warlock gains the upper hand but his respect for his enemy stays his hand, and the Captain then has him at his mercy with a gun Adam senses is powerful enough to kill him.

But then the Soul Gem comes to life on its own and steals the Captain's soul, the 1st time it has done such a thing since Warlock acquired it. The whole of Autolycus' life flashes through Adam's mind. When he recovers from the overload Warlock finds the Captain's body not dead but not truly alive. He is sickened, and wonders if the Gem is the source of the evil that becomes the Magus.

The prisoners find Warlock and thank him for their freedom, but they are even more confused about why he refused to lead them before. He replies that he fought for them because they needed him, but he would not be a leader. He tells them to take the ship and find an uninhabited world they can make their own, but urges them never to have a leader.

He himself takes a small craft to go to the Church's Homeworld to continue his fight against Magus. But inside he finds Pip the Troll waiting for him, wanting to be his companion. On the way to Homeworld he tells Pip everything that's happened to him so that the Troll understands the danger of the vampiric Soul Gem and his relationship to Magus, which may mean killing Magus is suicide.

Jim Starlin
Jim Starlin
Glynis Wein
Jim Starlin (Cover Penciler)
Jim Starlin (Cover Inker)
Jim Starlin (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Len Wein. Editor-in-chief: Marv Wolfman.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Plus: Autolycus, Matriarch.

> Strange Tales: Book info and issue index

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