Like many comic book characters, Adam Warlock has had a winding path towards his role as the cosmic Marvel entity that fans have come to know today. Marvel Premiere #1, cover-dated April 1972, was a key moment along this path. This pivotal Adam Warlock tale was written by Roy Thomas and penciled by Gil Kane with inks by Dan Adkins. The story transforms "Him" into Adam Warlock and contains the first appearance of one of the Infinity Stones — the Soul Gem. There's a copy of Marvel Premiere #1 CGC 8.5 up for auction in today's session of the 2021 June 13-14 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation & Art Select Auction #122124 from Heritage Auctions.
It's fairly well known that Roy Thomas envisioned the character as a sort of allegorical Christ figure. The plot in this issue contains numerous religious references. Having created Counter-Earth including an evolved ecosystem of life and humanity, the High Evolutionary ultimately has to send Adam Warlock down to the planet to save it — with the High-Evolutionary as the creator of the world referring to Adam Warlock as his son.
The High Evolutionary's reasoning for creating Counter-Earth is also deeply embedded in the politics of the early 1970s. Implying the original Earth is beyond redemption, one sequence of panels is captioned with:
But there is evil abroad in that world — an instinct of human aggression which leads to abuse of office by those in power, and mindless, destructive revolt by those denied power. It is a world which fights one war in order to end all wars — then fights another, and still another. A world far better at counting bodies, than at counting costs!
Given the accompanying illustrations of war and protests and the context of the late-1971 period during which this story was developed, this is a likely reference to actions such as President Richard Nixon's announced expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia which led to events such as the Kent State Massacre in 1970 and the May Day Protests in 1971, among numerous others. The line mentioning "abuse of office by those in power" is a particularly ironic touch given that the Nixon administration's infamous involvement in the June 17, 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Office Building would come three months after Marvel Premiere #1's release.
A fascinating moment in Marvel history that is closely tied to the culture and politics of its times, the characters and events of Marvel Premiere #1 have continued to echo throughout Marvel comics and movies in the decades since. There's a copy of Marvel Premiere #1 CGC 8.5 up for auction in today's session of the 2021 June 13-14 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation & Art Select Auction #122124 from Heritage Auctions.
Marvel Premiere #1 Warlock (Marvel, 1972) CGC VF+ 8.5 Off-white to white pages. First appearance of "Him" as Adam Warlock. First appearance of the Soul Gem. Hulk, Fantastic Four, and Thor appearances. Gil Kane cover and art. Overstreet 2020 VF 8.0 value = $117; VF/NM 9.0 value = $259. CGC census 6/21: 233 in 8.5, 578 higher.