Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Theological Reflections on Adam Warlock & The Magus

This is Adam Warlock's worst enemy, the Magus:

The Magus is actually an evil version of Adam himself, and I think it may be one of the most theologically compelling storylines in comic book history. At some point in the future, Adam Warlock is destined to be transformed by a cosmic being known as the Inbetweener into a mad, tyrannical version of himself. That being will eventually travel back in time and establish a religion around himself known as the Universal Church of Truth. This church is really an inter-galactic empire that preaches peace and love, all the while destroying any other religion or culture that practices those very same principles if said group fails to worship the Magus as god.

Eventually the Magus seeks to ensure his own creation by manipulating Adam Warlock into becoming the Magus. With the help of Thanos, Warlock ends up destroying himself before he can become his own worst enemy. The irony is that Thanos only helps Warlock because he knows that the Magus, like Warlock, chooses life over death, and the Magus is more powerful than even Thanos himself, thus Thanos seeks to destroy the Magus so his weaker alter-ego becomes the champion of life, an alter-ego Thanos (wrongly) believes he can defeat.

There is a powerful reflection here on the Christian Church. Adam Warlock is a Christ figure, especially in his early career, and was even crucified once, and resurrected to destroy his own enemies. When Adam Warlock meets the Magus, this is a dramatization of what it would've been like for Jesus Christ to meet the figure the later church turned him into. The Universal Church of Truth is  not-so-subtly based on the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. The idea that Adam Warlock chooses self-destruction over becoming the Magus is, for me, a powerful commentary on how Jesus would've reacted to the Christ the Church was preaching.

The ability of mankind to pull God down from on high and to make of the One True God a tribal god is as impressive as it is terrible. There are images from the crusades of Jesus riding on a horse into battle against Muslims. Even the transcendent image of Jesus, an 'impossible possibility', an image of the God that we can never be nor even fully want to be, can be corrupted, and has been corrupted, into a tool for the ego. No Christ is so cosmic that the human imagination cannot reduce Him to the basest of human realities.

Adam Warlock, in his battle against the Magus, is brought to the point of utter despair. It is as if all he loved and lived for was brought to ruin. It is sad that, many times and many places, this is true of our  Lord as well. And is it not reasonable to assume that He despairs of all that is done in his name?

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