Membership: Black Knights, Grand Inquisitors, Magus, Matriarch, mercenaries

Purpose:  To convert the entire universe to its doctrines, thereby expanding the empire.

Enemies:   Adam Warlock, Thanos, Gamora, Pip the Troll, non-productives and heretics everywhere. 

Base of Operations:  The planet Sirus X in the Hercules star cluster, aka "Homeworld"

First Appearance:  Strange Tales I#178 (February, 1975)



History:  The events in this summary happened or were told in flashbacks from Strange Tales#178-Warlock #12.  There is just too much jumping around to track it issue by issue.  Besides, you need to buy the whole series anyway!

 The UCT was founded when Adam Warlock was transported to the In-Betweener's realm and transformed into The Magus.  The Magus was then sent 5,000 years into the past on the planet Sirus X.  The natives attacked The Magus, who slaughtered them using his powers which had greatly increased during his time in the In-Betweener's dimension.  The surviving Sirusites fell to worshipping the Magus and eventually declared him the one true god.  Using the Sirusites' superior technology, the Magus spread his religion throughout the stars, until over a thousands worlds were forced to worship him. 



Worlds that refused to worship the Magus were "purified" by annihilating the inhabitants. One such world was Zen-Whober, the birthplace of Gamora.  The Magus taught that non-humanoids were not created in his image, and therefore were not entitled to basic sentient life rights.  These beings were usually enslaved, and if they refused to work, they were branded "non-productives" and sent to rendering plants where their bodies would be broken down into basic elements and used as raw material for the Church's war machine.  (There was at least one exception to this rule:  the non-humanoid Judan Kray-Tor became a Judge of the church.  The reason for this exception is not known, although it should be noted that Kray-Tor was exceptionally devout.)  Trolls were also slated for execution, even though they were humanoid, because they proved resistant to the Church's conversion process.




Four years before Warlock was to be abducted by the In-Betweener, the Magus found a woman in one of Homeworld's brothels and made her the temporal leader of his church, the Matriarch.  The Magus knew the Matriarch would try to betray him, since he remembered it from his years as Warlock. However, he needed her to start the events that would enable him to be created.

Finally, the time came for Warlock to become involved.  Warlock had recently returned to the stars after saving Counter-Earth from the Man-Beast.  A young woman came frantically searching for him on a barren planetoid, while being pursued by three inquisitors.  Despite Warlock's best efforts, the Inquisitors killed the girl.  However, Warlock temporarily resucitated her with the Soul Gem in order to learn why she sought him out.  It was then that Warlock learned about the Magus and the UCT.  The Magus then confronted Warlock and attacked him with illusions that made Warlock realize that he and the Magus were one and the same.  Warlock set out to defeat the Magus and the UCT at any cost, even if it meant his life.





Warlock attempted to attack the UCT starship Great Divide. However Warlock was defeated and captured along with dozens of non-productives.  Warlock escaped and freed the non-productives, and took off for Homeworld with his new friend Pip the Troll.  There, Warlock found that he could not remove the Soul Gem without killing himself, and began to speculate that the Gem had created the Magus.  The Matriarch knew Warlock was on Homeworld and tempted him with knowledge of the Magus' origin.  Warlock ditched Pip and flew to the Matriarch's Palace and confronted her.  She told him that the Gem did not create the Magus.  Rather, the Magus was Warlock's future self.  While reeling from this revelation, Warlock was easily captured and subjected to brainwashing by the Matriarch's goons, but his strong will eventually prevailed.  Gamora also arrived on the scene, and with Pip, managed to track Warlock to the palace.



However, the Magus then appeared and said that all had gone according to his plan.  He began to tell Warlock the origin of the Church.  He told Warlock that he would expose him to radiation that would summon the In-betweener.  However, the Magus was unable to sense Gamora's presence.  She tried to kill him, but he sensed her at the last second and knocked her senseless.  The Magus then sicced 25,000 Black Knights on Warlock, Pip, and Gamora to keep Warlock from figuring out a way to avoid his fate.  He then arrested the Matriarch and told her he knew she tried to betray him.  He then dropped her down a pit to her death.  At that moment, Thanos appeared and revealed himself as Gamora's master.  He helped Warlock, Pip, and Gamora escape the Knights and took them to his ship, Sanctuary I.  Thanos had a time-machine aboard Sanctuary and told Warlock that he must kill himself by stealing his own soul at the moment of his future death.  Before Warlock could proceed, the Magus burst in with a squadron of Black Knights.  The Magus hoped the Knights would delay Warlock until the In-betweener came, when it would be too late to do anything.  However, Thanos finally talked Warlock into stealing the Knights' souls.  Then, Thanos engaged the Magus while Warlock and Pip plunged into the time machine.


Warlock had only 5 minutes to save himself before the In-betweener grabbed him.  Warlock found his own personal "kismet trail" where five potential lives presented themselves.  Warlock destroyed the one that became the Magus, then plunged into the shortest and stole that one's soul at the moment of his death.


The Magus had defeated Thanos, but suddenly he began to fade from existence.  The universe then remade itself, and Pip and Warlock were returned to Homeworld.  However, even though the Magus was gone, the Church was still standing, and the Matriarch strolled down the street.  Warlock was perturbed, but took comfort in the fact that he was not responsible for the new UCT, and went drinking with Pip.  The history of this recreated Church is unknown. 

COMMENTS:  Created by Jim Starlin.

The story of the UCT is one of the very best comic book story arcs ever written.  Starlin was at his absolute best, not only writing, but drawing and inking.  This story elevated Warlock from a shameful Jesus rip-off to an utterly unique, compelling character (not to mention putting him in his best costume).  It has gripping characterization, thought provoking philosophy and theology, and good old supehero bussem up action.  Whether you agree with Starlin's take on religion and politics or not, it's worth the read, simply for an intelligent treatment of those subjects.--I agree. It is an utter classic--Snood.

In addition, the Matriarch and the UCT are still around in the modern era. It's high-time for Jim Starlin to do a sequel.--Snood.

I only have one minor nitpick about the story:  the church's Black Knights.  They never seemed very fearsome to me.  They wore purple jumpsuits with frilly collars and carried little energy pistols.  They weren't nearly as intimidating as the goosesteppers of an intergalactic theocratic empire should be.  That's the only bad thing I can say about this arc.

It was reprinted twice in nearly identical special editions.  You can find them in a back issue bin for about $2.50 apiece.  Why are you still reading this? Go buy it!

In the alternate future (@ 3000 AD) of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Universal Church of Truth exists once more. Wilyeadus, the human host to the Spirit of Vengeance (the Ghost Rider of that era), is even a priest of the religion. I think Protege is a high-ranking figure, and I believe Replica was involved with it as well. I'm pretty sure there's no reference to the Magus. Anyway, it's an alternate or potential future and is considered distinct from the organization of the modern era.

Several of the Black Knights are seen occasionally within Soul World, especially the one with an eye for a head.

Captain Mar-Vell and Rick Jones encountered a temple of the Universal Church on Kree-Lar in Captain Marvel I#41 (presumably after the Magus was removed from its history).
--Continental Op

Profile by Chuck D

CLARIFICATIONS: UCT-see above comments.

The Black Knights of the UCT, have no connection to:

The Grand Inquisitors, have no known connections to:

Magus, in this story, refers to Adam Warlock's alternate future self, @ Strange Tales I#178...who is considered to be essentially the same as the character as the dark side of Adam Warlock, created @ Warlock and the Infinity Watch#1...
He has no known connection to:

The Sirusite race (of the Matriarch) were the natives of Sirus X, the tenth planet from their star in the Al'Ma'an star system. They should be differentiated from:

Black Knights:  The Black Knights served as the military of the UCT.  Black Knights served as foot soldiers as well as Captains of starships manned by mercenary crews.  Black Knights were intensely loyal:  thousands of them continued to attack Thanos, Warlock, and Gamora, even though their comrades were being slaughtered in droves.  They had orders to shoot trolls on sight, since trolls were resistant to the Church's conversion process (read:brainwashing).  Many, but not all Knights had a black tatoo around their eyes and down the bridge of their nose.  The Knights carried a potent energy pistol.  The souls of hundreds, if not thousands of Black Knights currently reside inside the Soul Gem, after Warlock stole their souls in battle.


General Egeus.  General Egeus was apparently the commander of the Black Knights on Homeworld, possibly throughout the Church's empire.  The Magus ordered him to send 25,000 Knights against Thanos, Warlock, and Gamora.  Egeus thought the Magus was crazy until he saw how the trio dealt with his holy forces.  It is unclear whether Egeus was among the Knights whose souls were stolen by Warlock. 


Captain Autolycus was another Black Knight.






Grand Inquisitors:  The Grand Inquisitors were the church's "missionaries" and police force.  The Grand Inquisitors would attempt to convert other planets to the Church's doctrines.  If the inhabitants refused, the Inquisitors would exterminate all life on the planet.  One such "purging" occured on the planet of the Zen Whoberi.  The only survivor was a little girl named Gamora, who Thanos saved and raised to be an assassain.  Small groups of Inquisitors would pursue individual heretics, such as the unnamed young girl who was killed searching for Warlock.  (Note:  Judge Kray-Tor was known as "The Grand Inquisitor"  this was probably a title associated with being a judge, although it is possible he did some field work before becoming a judge.) 


Borgia:  Borgia is a Roclite, of the same race as Thanos' servants The Blood Brothers.  Like all Roclites, Borgia possesses superhuman strength (Class 25-50).  Roclites who serve the UCT are known as the "Temporal Punishers."  Borgia was accompanied by two unnamed humanoid Inquisitors who displayed no superhuman powers.















Mercenaries:  The Church's starships (or at least the Great Divide) were manned by crews of mercenaries under the command of a Black Knight.  It is unknown whether the mercenaries adhered to the church's doctrines, or if they just got off on slaughtering helpless non-productives. 












Strange Tales I#178-180 (February-June, 1975) - Jim Starlin (writer/pencils/inks), Len Wein (editor)
Strange Tales I#181 (September, 1975) - Jim Starlin (writer/pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Warlock I#9 (October, 1975) - Jim Starlin (writer/pencils), Steve Leialoha (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Warlock I#10 (December, 1975) - Jim Starlin (writer/pencils), Steve Leialoha (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Warlock I#11 (February, 1976) - Jim Starlin (writer/pencils), Steve Leialoha (inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Captain Marvel I#41 (November, 1975) - Steve Englehart (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Bernie Wrightson, Craig Russell, Bob McLeod, Terry Austin & Al Milgrom (inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

First Posted: 02/21/2002
Last updated: 12/30/2004

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