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Strange Tales #180: Review

Jun 1975
Jim Starlin, Jim Starlin

Story Name:

The judgement

Review & Comments

4 stars

Strange Tales #180 Review by (May 1, 2020)
Alan Weiss inked 4 pages of this issue.

The green female is of course Gamora, as will be confirmed next issue.

Kray-Tor will join Autolycus in Soul World, as will be seen in Avengers Annual #7.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Strange Tales #180 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Adam Warlock is on a crusade against the Universal Church Of Truth whose God is the Magus, who is somehow another version of Adam, and whose temporal head is the Matriarch. Warlock was captured by a prison ship of the Church and helped the prisoners escape. During the fight his Soul Gem came to life and stole the soul of Captain Autolycus, whose memories now haunt him. He also gained a sidekick Pip the Troll.

Warlock and Pip have reached Homeworld in the Hercules constellation, centre of the Church. Adam has disguised himself by changing his costume (removing the lightning bolt from his chest and adding a cape held closed by a skull symbol). But Pip literally bumps into 1 of the Church's Black Knights, which is bad because Trolls are on the Church's exterminate list. Adam saves him but then has to fight 4 more Knights. He also has to fight to stop the Soul Gem taking *their* souls.

The Matriarch is warned that Warlock has been spotted heading towards the Sacred Palace, but she's happy about that. Previously she had ordered Autolycus to murder him hoping this would also kill Magus and leave her in sole control of the Church. But now she thinks it would actually destroy the Church. So now she plans to *control* Warlock instead.

Meanwhile Adam plans to rid himself of the Soul Gem. He plucks it from his brow, but immediately falls to the ground weak and dying. Pip replaces the Gem and his companion recovers. But now Warlock realises that it has been slowly absorbing *his* soul, so now without it he has no will. A nearby spy scanner lights up and transmits the image of the Matriarch. She claims to have already known about his Soul Gem problem and invites him to the Palace to learn more. Pip says it's an obvious trap. Adam agrees but slinks off anyway, not wanting to endanger the Troll.

As he flies towards the Palace he muses on his aim to kill the Magus. Now he suspects that this other identity might be caused by the Soul Gem. He also ponders on the effects on the space-time continuum of having 2 versions of the same being existing in the same time and place. Whatever, he needs the information the Matriarch can give him to have any hope of stopping the super-powerful Magus and his Church taking over the universe.

Warlock sneaks past alert guards and semi-lobotomised Palace servants. He reaches the Matriarch who has dispensed with her personal guards, and demands to know the origin of the Magus and how she knew about his Gem's vampiric tendencies. She answers the 2nd question by saying that the Magus told her it had happened long ago. And that's because Magus is the future version of Adam come back in time. (In #178 we were told that he appeared 5000 years ago.) And she claims that the Gem has nothing to do with it. The Magus will evolve from Adam's own turbulent nature.

Warlock swears he'll prevent that from happening. Matriarch says she can't allow that. Without Magus the Church wouldn't exist. And without the Church she wouldn't have the position of power she now enjoys. So she's going to imprison him until she can convert him to her cause. She presses a button and before he can react and levitate to safety he drops down through a trapdoor.

The 2nd half of this issue is given a new title:- Chapter 2: The trial of Adam Warlock.

Warlock finds himself in the courtroom of the Grand Inquisitor Kray-Tor (a large head with 2 legs and 4 arms), accused of various things over and above the murder of Autolycus. The judge asks how he pleads, Adam says "What?!" and the Judge has 'not guilty' entered in the record. Faceless android bailiffs put the prisoner in chains as Kray-Tor says he'll get a fair trial before being executed. The District Prosecutor is a large mouth (plus smaller eyes) who will provide the required false evidence. The Public Defender is a large eye who keeps falling asleep. The jury is more faceless androids.

Warlock denies the right of the Court to judge him. They derive their authority from Magus, but he *is* Magus. He also claims that Magus is a mad version of himself. And he demands to be heard by Magus himself. Kray-Tor just directs Adam to make all objections via his Defender, who has no mouth. The Judge then privately admits that he and Adam both know the trial is a sham for public consumption, so he better just go along with it.

The Prosecutor calls a witness Yon-Lok, an infidel rebel somewhat the worse for wear, who is expected to accuse Warlock of crimes. Instead he accuses the Judge and the rest of the Court, and is killed by the bailiffs for his pains. The jury is instructed to disregard that witness, and when further beaten-up witnesses are brought forth they all do what they're told. Adam objects to this sham until suppressed with a metal gag. The Prosecutor announce that they have enough footage to provide an edited version for the public, so he calls for a guilty verdict. The Defender is asleep so the Judge declares that the Defence threw itself on the mercy of the Court. And the android jury votes guilty.

Meanwhile Pip has given up looking for Adam and repairs to a bar where he's accosted by a green female who informs him there's a bounty out for him. But she's not interested in that, she just wants to know where Adam Warlock is. Pip says he's gone to the Sacred Palace, and she tells him that she wants to see if Warlock has a chance of defeating Magus. If he has she'll join him, if not she'll kill him. (This female has skulls on her costume like Warlock's, but more than just 1 of them.)

Kray-Tor sentences Warlock to a House Of Correction. Adam stops playing weak and rips his gag off to say that sounds like a brainwashing centre. He breaks his chains and uses them and his power to destroy all the androids. He gives the Prosecutor a good kicking and spouts a speech at the Judge. But Kray-Tor just revises the sentence to death and causes the floor to suck our hero in. Warlock finds that not even the Soul Gem can save him, and the Judge says it is the weight of his sins that is pulling him down.

But the absolute villainy of Kray-Tor has cancelled whatever doubts Adam had. He now believes that fate delivered the Soul Gem to him (via of course the High Evolutionary in Marvel Premiere #1) expressly to combat him and his like. So he gives in to the Gem's urging and lets it take Kray-Tor's soul. Warlock is freed but the Judge's memories flood into his mind. And he realises that Kray-Tor *believed* he was doing right and Adam was the villain. And by stealing his soul he's proved his foe right!

As Adam collapses from overload the Matriarch shows herself and comments that everyone believes they are the heroes, even herself. Things turned out as she planned and Warlock is now in her clutches. 2 servitors throw him into a pit for indoctrination.

Jim Starlin
Jim Starlin
Jim Starlin
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: Kray-Tor, Matriarch.

> Strange Tales: Book info and issue index

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