The Brewer Report: Who is the Magus, really?
After mega-talented Jim Starlin left the pages of Captain Marvel with the tale of Nitro (little did we know what this would lead to in Marvel’s first graphic novel), yours truly was hungering for the sight-and-mind cosmic comic feast that the Stellar One (that was Starlin’s old Bullpen Page moniker, BTW) brought.
I need my Titans back! I thought.
I soon got back Starlin, a sight-and-mind cosmic comic feast, and eventually a Mad Titan followed as Jim gave us his sideways, time-crunching look at Warlock.
Now remember, at this time Warlock was seen not as Stan and Jack’s “Him” but as Roy Thomas’ allegory of Christ. (He had been crucified and resurrected in the pages of Hulk, for Christ’s sake!) So I did not hold out high hopes for this Starlin space opus, pretty as it was.
Then came Pip, Gamora, a thousand clowns, Thanos and … the Magus!
Yep, a purple future-self of Adam Warlock with a ‘70s fro and power enough to rock our world. And although it took some doing, I all of a sudden started to get into this trans-time tale and what it could mean to our favorite Soul Jewel wearer (that would be Adam).
For the uninitiated, The Magus (at least in his first incarnation) is the evil, alternate future incarnation of Warlock and rules a religious empire called the Universal Church of Truth (often wrongly called by DnA and others the Church of Universal Truth; hey, you stay tomato …). The Magus very subtly guided Warlock through a series of actions that will eventually result in him becoming the Magus. He sent demons against Warlock, too, finally revealing himself to be – ta da! -- Adam’s future self.
Then it got interesting as Thanos entered the fray, battling The Magus and his Death-Squad. The purple man’s plan is thwarted, however, by the Mad Titan, who provides Warlock access to a dimension where he destroys all but the shortest of his future timelines, as well as the efforts of that great creation, the In-Betweener. The Magus, unable to stop Warlock as he was locked in battle with Thanos, then just ceases to exist.
That’s it? Far from it.
We enter post-Annihilation Marvel Cosmic after my return to comics after 10 years, where Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (the aforementiioned DnA) still have things brewing hot, heavy and intelligently! And suddenly I see there has been a rebirth (more than one, actually, but I did not personally witness the Infinity years) of (wait for it) Adam Warlock! And where Adam strides …
Anyhoo, Adam directs his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy in efforts to seal tears in reality caused by recent massive conflicts throughout the universe. On their first mission, the Guardians encounter a modern-day incarnation of the Universal Church of Truth, who identify Warlock as their Messiah and appear to have a second Warlock-style cocoon in their possession. The cocoon violently resists attempts by the Church to open it prematurely. (We would find out who was in said cocoon a tad later, and was he mad!)
During War of Kings, Warlock expends great amounts of energy in battle. This causes his skin to take on a purplish tinge and makes him act more violently and sadistically, mocking a foe in pain and gleefully tearing apart Shi'ar soldiers. (Purple? Hmm …) At the climax of the war, an Inhuman weapon tears a massive hole in reality, called the Fault. In order to halt its expansion, Warlock calls upon the Church's resources to power a massive spell that secures the Fault in space/time to an “unused” timeline: the future where he became the Magus! Now at his weakest, he is unable to stop the Magus taking control of him, despite Phylla-Vell's attempt to murder him before that happens.
This neo-Magus goes on to forcibly turn every possible future into the Magus future, only opposed by Kang the Conquerer and an army of alternate Starhawks. Unable to strike himself, Kang plucks several Guardians (who have become temporal anomalies) from the timeline and sends them back to the creation of the Fault; using a Cosmic Cube, Kang thinks they should be able to hold back the Magus' awakening long enough to kill Adam Warlock.
Our pal Pete (Star-Lord) Quill initially tries to convince Adam to hold the Magus back instead, only to discover that to secure the Fault Adam overlapped timelines and has, in effect, been the Magus for several months. The Magus awakens and goes on to seemingly kill Gamora, Phylla, Cosmo, Major Victory and Mantis before he’s driven back, and Star-Lord (at Adam's urging) finally shoots Warlock dead. Bang!
However… The Magus survived this fate (he later reveals the final “battle” was merely complex illusory magic), and is holding Gamora, Phylla, Cosmo, Major Victory and Mantis in suspended animation as his prisoners. After Phyla goes nuts and breaks free with the other Guardians, the Magus escapes to the Church's Homeworld.
The Magus is later killed (again??) by the Cancerverse version of Captain Marvel, who killed him not only for his failure in a recent mission but also because Mar-Vell was intrigued by being able to kill -- something he'd apparently never experienced before! (In effect, all that build-up to the Magus and his plans – poof! – gone to speed up the Thanos Imperative storyline and hasten the coming of the present Age of Hiatus.)
Now we see a purple tike crawling over our universe’s First Responders in solicitation for Annihilators: Earthfall #3? Just what matter of menace will this Magus be?
Annihilators: Earthfall #3 hits stores in November!