Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Contempt Of Court

It's a great feeling to escape universal armageddon, isn't it? Following the events of The Infinity Gauntlet, all of us on planet Earth are probably breathing a sigh of relief that, thanks to the efforts of a select few, we survived the crisis intact--or, rather, we would be releasing that sigh, if we recalled that crisis ever taking place. But for Adam Warlock, sole holder of the gauntlet where the six all-powerful infinity gems are embedded, there is no relief from either the responsibility he feels to shepherd the fate of the universe, or from the scrutiny of those who have gathered under the judicial gaze of the Living Tribunal to pass judgment on him for the course he has decided to set for himself.

Assuming he has any intention of accepting the judgment rendered here. You see, any verdict coming down as a result of observations from the witnesses assembled in this time and place--a "jury of his peers" being the closest approximation of this grouping for the sake of our meager comprehension--is in all likelihood going to be considered meaningless by the one who is being judged...

...since, as far as Warlock is concerned, he has no peers.

It remains to be seen just why it's Eternity who--that?--is making Warlock's possession of the gauntlet such an issue; but out of all those assembled, it makes sense that he take the role as lead witness, since he is "the embodiment of all there is in the universe," which includes all the other cosmic beings present (with possibly the exception of Epoch, who either resides in a different universe or simply another dimension). At any rate, Eternity successfully convinces the Tribunal that Warlock's circumstances merit this gathering to debate the wisdom (or folly) of Warlock remaining in possession of the Infinity gems, and proceeds to base his arguments on Warlock's mental competency--words which nearly bring an end to the proceedings before they've truly begun.

One of the fascinating things about the Living Tribunal is that he truly seems to be supreme over everybody, and acknowledged as such--even by the Celestials, whose presence here and deference to the Tribunal is almost astonishing, given their tendency to treat even powerful deities like ants beneath their notice. Warlock had doubted the Tribunal's credentials over Eternity's, and certainly over his own considerable power now that he possessed the gauntlet; how refreshing to the story to see his arrogant presumption rebuffed by so casual a gesture from the Tribunal, as if a bucket of ice water had been thrown in his face. Even so, he isn't prepared to admit as much to the Tribunal--and Eternity begins to press his case.

The root of Eternity's argument against Warlock is that this "man" is actually an artificial being, created by Earth scientists to be the pinnacle of the human species--yet in reality, Warlock is an experiment that went out of control, born into maturity but with no natural development or guidance, and who immediately turned on his creators. Eternity's opening argument and the points raised therefrom are hard to refute.

Eternity, being Eternity, has Warlock's entire history to draw on for his testimony, though one part of Warlock's life would seem to merit a more favorable outlook on Warlock's sense of responsibility--the time he spent on Counter-Earth, a world he implored the High Evolutionary not to destroy outright when it was discovered the Man-Beast had corrupted it, where Warlock's intervention helped save countless lives. Yet even with the Evolutionary's influence resulting in making Warlock a hero of sorts, Eternity turns to focus on Warlock's apparent lack of stability in that role.

Yet however Warlock's comments in rebuttal might have influenced all those present, Eternity expands on the example of Counter-Earth by staying focused on the stability issue and turning to the most damning period of Warlock's life that brings his stability (or lack thereof) into sharp focus--the period of time that he spent as the fanatic known as the Magus. However Warlock seeks to play down the incident as an "aberration," and in spite of how he resolved it, the fact that a monster like the Magus developed from Warlock's own psyche is irrefutable, and it's a telling piece of evidence that the Tribunal must take into consideration.

The fact that Eternity might also be an unwise choice to possess the gems shouldn't (and doesn't) in any way influence the Tribunal's decision regarding Warlock--though it might underscore the fact that Warlock, whose perspective on life is far, far less in scope than Eternity's, should have no claim on them, either. So the issue remains: Should Warlock be stripped of the Infinity gauntlet?

Eternity could well continue to make a case against Warlock's custody and continued use of the gems--for instance, recounting Warlock's conversation with an alien hermit, where Warlock fears the turmoil that life will send his way. Or that he consciously used his soul gem to slaughter a room full of men in order to stop an attack by the Magus--that is, by himself, as Eternity might note. But as this story will remind us, Warlock, possessing the Time gem, already knows what the Tribunal's verdict will be--but even as he goads the Tribunal into delivering it, he nevertheless does so with words of warning. Words that influence the Tribunal's judgment not one iota.

There's something to be said for the Tribunal's "wisdom," if we want to call it that. Warlock was bound to resist the judgment against him, yet in the end he acquiesced to it, with the Tribunal appealing to what he sensed of Warlock's nature through Eternity's testimony. In the end, Eternity got what he wanted, just not quite the way he wanted it--and the universe (i.e., Eternity himself) received a compromise it could live with. In a way, you could say that the Tribunal's reputation doesn't, er, do him justice.

Of course, the end of these proceedings doesn't mean that Warlock and Eternity are simply going to forgive and forget.

And so... who will be given custody of the gems?


(Maybe Eternity was right about this guy after all.)

Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1

Script: Jim Starlin
Art: Angel Medina
Inks: Terry Austin
Letterer: Jack Morelli


Warren JB said...

You'd think an anthropomorphic personification of all there is would be a bit more... mellow.

Anonymous said...

I would hope so!