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Greetings, you unevolved, low-life scum! Welcome to the High Evolutionary comics reading guide!

After a stunning debut at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, the world has been waiting breathlessly for Chukwudi Iwuji’s performance as the High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3. Here is what you need to get started with High Evolutionary comics, as we prepare for one of the strangest, most tragic, and most terrifying villains in Marvel history.

High Evolutionary Comics Recommendations:

  • Thor (1966) #134-135; Tales to Astonish (1958) #94-96
  • Marvel Premiere (1972) #1-2
  • Warlock (1972) #1-8; Incredible Hulk (1962) #175-178
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #172-175
  • Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #61-63
  • Avengers: The Saga of the High Evolutionary (1988)
  • Avengers: Evolutionary War (1988)
  • Thor (1966) #406-408, 417-425, 447-450, 472-489; Annual #19
  • Annihilation: Conquest (2008) #1-6
  • Wolverine: First Class (2008) #3-4
  • Iron Man/Thor (2011) #1-4
  • Uncanny Avengers (2015a) #1-5
  • Avengers/Champions: Worlds Collide (2018)

Our tale begins with a human geneticist named Professor H. E. Wyndham. He is Herbert Edgar, the High Evolutionary! Using his own “genetic accelerator,” Herbert was able to evolve animals into semi-intelligent humanoids called New Men!

However, when humanity rejected his talents, Herbert exiled himself to Mount Wundagore (yes, the same one related to Scarlet Witch!). Strange dark magic things start happening (obviously, because it’s Mount Wundagore), so Herbert engineers a special suit of armor to protect himself. With his self-experimentations and sentient armor, Herbert Edgar becomes the High Evolutionary!

But after continuing to be frustrated by the failures of humanity, the High Evolutionary decides to leave Earth with his creations in a spaceship of his own design (like Noah’s Ark!). He uses his technology to create a copy of Earth, grown from the geological DNA of a rock, with the plan to restart life anew in a utopia of his own making. With his near-immortality, the High Evolutionary turns his attention to achieving godhood for his New Men, so he can populate the new planet with his own idyllic, godly version of humanity. However, the creatures revolt, creating an imperfect “Counter-Earth” (like The Island of Doctor Moreau!).

High Evolutionary comics are a wild exploration of the Marvel universe. His strong beliefs and limitless scope have earned him the ire of Galactus, Acocalypse, and even Ego the Living Planet! At one point, Herbert tried to evolve multiverse! And yet, still human, he once fell deeply in love with Shanna from the Savage Land.

But is the High Evolutionary divine or delusional? Read on and decide for yourself!

For more related to High Evolutionary comics, check out our other reading guides, including Adam Warlock and the Scarlet Witch!

“The High Evolutionary intends to build a god fit for the 21st century. And you will be his raw materials.”

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High Evolutionary & Adam Warlock (1970s)

The High Evolutionary originally appeared in 1966, created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby as a bizarre but formidable villain in Thor. It wasn’t until Roy Thomas’ Marvel Premiere #1 six years later that his Counter-Earth mythos got fleshed out properly.

When he discovers the golden, godly Adam Warlock floating in space, High Evolutionary comics were changed forever! Enchanted by his perfection, the High Evolutionary adopts Adam as his son, forming one of the strangest pairings in Marvel history.

  • Thor (1966) #134-135
    • Prologue: Thor #132-133
  • Tales to Astonish (1958) #94-96 [B Stories]
  • Marvel Premiere (1972) #1-2
    • Features Adam Warlock!
  • Warlock (1972) #1-8
    • After #2: Incredible Hulk (1962) #158
    • After #8: Incredible Hulk (1962) #175-178
    • #1, 3, 5, 8 feature the High Evolutionary
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #172-175, 178
    • The High Evolutionary vs. Galactus!

 

Extra reading:

  • Incredible Hulk (1962) #149, 158, 175-178, 266
  • Avengers (1963) #118, 186-187; Giant-Size #1
  • Marvel Spotlight (1971) #32; Spider-Woman (1978) #1, 37
  • Iron Man (1968) #111
  • Thor (1966) #293

thor fantastic four incredible hulk


 

High Evolutionary: Evolutionary War (1988)

One of the most insane crossovers of all time, this section is basically two giant epics told across 11 annuals. Each annual has two High Evolutionary comics stories, told in parallel. “Evolutionary War” is the main crossover event, and “Saga of the High Evolutionary” is a prequel recapping the history of the High Evolutionary and Counter-Earth leading up to the war. The stories are presented below chronologically with the prequel story first, but any linear reading order is fine!

  • The Saga of the High Evolutionary (1988)
    • X-Factor (1986) Annual #3 [C Story]
    • The Punisher (1988) Annual #1 [C Story]
    • Silver Surfer (1988) Annual #1 [D Story]
    • New Mutants (1985) Annual #4 [C Story]
    • Fantastic Four (1963) Annual #21 [C Story]
    • Amazing Spider-Man (1964) Annual #22 [C Story]
    • X-Men (1979) Annual #12 [C Story]
    • Web of Spider-Man (1985) Annual #4 [C Story]
    • West Coast Avengers (1986) Annual #3 [C Story]
    • Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man (1988) Annual #8 [C Story]
    • Avengers (1967) Annual #17 [B Story]

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  • The Evolutionary War (1988)
    • X-Factor (1986) Annual #3 [A Story]
    • Silver Surfer (1988) Annual #1 [A Story]
    • New Mutants (1985) Annual #4 [A Story]
    • Amazing Spider-Man (1964) Annual #22 [A Story]
    • Fantastic Four (1963) Annual #21 [A Story]
    • X-Men (1979) Annual #12 [A Story]
    • Web of Spider-Man (1985) Annual #4 [A Story]
    • West Coast Avengers (1986) Annual #3 [A Story]
    • West Coast Avengers (1986) Annual #3 [B Story]
    • Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man (1988) Annual #8 [A Story]
    • Avengers (1967) Annual #17 [A Story]

new mutants x-factor avengers


 

High Evolutionary vs. Thor (1990s)

The 1990s were a weak spot for High Evolutionary comics, as was the case for many other characters at Marvel. Among many short arcs, the High Evolutionary’s most prominent role was once again in Thor. Here he faced the Celestials and even adopted a second son named Nobilus! ….Who was a clone grown from Thor’s hair shavings. ?

  • Thor (1966) #406-408, 417-425, 447-450, 472-489; Annual #19
    • #417-425 feature High Evolutionary vs. the Celestials! (“Black Galaxy Saga”)
    • #420 introduces the High Evolutionary’s second son, Nobilus! (Reverse-engineered clone of Thor)
    • After #425: Warlock and the Infinity Watch (1992) #3-4
    • #447-450 feature Ego the Living Planet!
    • After #474: Annual #19
  • Avengers (1963) #380-382
  • Ka-Zar (1997) #12-14
  • Quicksilver (1997) #1, 7-12
    • After #7: Heroes for Hire (1997) #12
    • After #10-11: Heroes for Hire (1997) #15-16
    • After #12: Heroes for Hire/Quicksilver Annual 1998, Heroes for Hire (1997) #17

mightly thor warlock

Extra reading:

  • Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (1988) #9 [B Story]
  • Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #23
  • Fantastic Four Unlimited (1993) #9
  • Thunderstrike (1994) #14 [B Story]
  • Scarlet Spider Unlimited (1995) #1
  • Rune (1995) #2
  • Thor: The Legend (1996) #1
  • Uncanny Origins (1996) #2
  • Spider-Man: Dead Man’s Hand (1997) #1
  • Excalibur (1988) #113

Extra Counter-Earth reading:

  • Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (1988) #47
  • Silver Surfer (1987) #84-85
  • Web of Spider-Man (1985) #104-106
  • Marc Spector: Moon Knight (1989) #57
  • Marvel Adventures (1997) #16
  • Warlock (1998) #1
  • Spider-Man Unlimited (1999) #½, 1-5
  • Fantastic Four (1998) #47

avengers kazar


 

High Evolutionary: Annihilation Conquest (2000s-2010s)

The 2000s saw a run of Marvel Universe vs. High Evolutionary comics! The High Evolutionary removes the powers of all mutants during “Mutants No More”. And when the Scarlet Witch tries the same thing a few years later in House of M, the High Evolutionary refuses to reverse the process! 

This era also brought Adam Warlock, the High Evolutionary, and the Guardians of the Galaxy together for Annihilation: Conquest. This is definitely one of the most important High Evolutionary comics you should read in preparation for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3.

Following Conquest, the Evolutionary appeared in a number of arcs that were short but memorable, like Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers and Jonathan Hickman’s FF. At one point, the Evolutionary tries to recruit Iron Man into his techno-god schemes and even makes the Silver Surfer his own herald!

  • Uncanny X-Men (1981) #379-380 (“Mutants No More”)
    • Prologue: Uncanny X-Men Annual 1999, X-Men (1991) #98
    • After #379: X-Men (1991) #99
  • X-Men: Endangered Species (2007)
    • Prologue: House of M (2005) #1-8
    • X-Men (1991) #200 [B Story]
    • Uncanny X-Men (1981) #488 [B Story]
    • X-Factor (2005) #21-22, 24 [B Stories]
  • Annihilation: Conquest (2008) #1-6
    • Features Adam Warlock and the Guardians of the Galaxy!
  • Wolverine: First Class (2008) #3-4
  • Iron Man/Thor (2011) #1-4

high-evolutionary-comics-covers-2000s-xmen-mutants-no-more-wolverine-first-class-silver-surfer-galactus

  • Silver Surfer (2011) #1-5
  • Avengers (2013) #12-13
  • New Warriors (2014) #1-12 
  • Uncanny Avengers (2015a) #1-5 by Rick Remender
    • Continued in: Scarlet Witch (2016) #8, 11
    • Introduces the Low Evolutionary, and the High Evolutionary’s daughter Luminous
  • High Evolutionary & The Scarlet Witch:
    • Thor (1966) #134
    • Giant-Size Avengers (1974) #1
    • Avengers (1963) #185-187
    • X-Men Annual (1979) #12 [C Story]
    • Web of Spider-Man Annual (1985) #4 [C Story]
    • West Coast Avengers Annual (1986) #3 [A Story]
    • Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (1988) #9 [B Story]
    • Uncanny Origins (1996) #2
    • Quicksilver (1997) #7, 10
    • New Warriors (2014) #12
    • Uncanny Avengers (2015) #1-5
    • Scarlet Witch (2016) #8, 11
    • Continue with the Scarlet Witch reading guide!

high-evolutionary-comics-1991-xmen-99-gone-too-far

Extra reading:

  • Avengers Annual 2001
  • Spider-Woman: Origin (2005) #2
  • Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four (2007) #3
  • Uncanny X-Men (1981) #500, 507, 516, 522
  • Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man (2009) #2
  • Fantastic Four (1998) #575
  • Hercules: Fall of an Avenger (2010) #1
  • Avengers: The Children’s Crusade (2010) #2
  • Mighty Avengers (2007) #21-22
  • Wolverine: Mr. X (2010) #1
  • FF (2011) #3-9
  • Gambit (2012) #8
  • Iron Man (2013) #10
  • Magneto (2014) #19
  • Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #7

high-evolutionary-comics-covers-2010s-new-warriors-uncanny-avengers-scarlet-witch-quicksilver


 

High Evolutionary and the Multiverse: Worlds Collide (2020s)

In the present day, the High Evolutionary has become more ambitious than ever! From trying to evolve the multiverse in Al Ewing’s Ultimates 2 to trying to put a stop to the mutants on Krakoa, High Evolutionary comics have taken a bold new turn in the new decade.

Unfortunately, nowadays the Evolutionary is still only seen for a few issues at a time. Let’s hope he gets a new miniseries when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes out this May!

  • Ultimates 2 (2016) #8-9, 100
    • Features Gold Galactus and Ego the Living Planet!
  • Avengers/Champions: Worlds Collide (2018)
    • Avengers (2017) #672-674
    • Champions (2016) #13-15
  • Spider-Woman (2020) #6-10
    • Prologue: Marvel Spotlight (1971) #32; Spider-Woman (1978) #1
  • X-Men (2021) #1-5

high-evolutionary-comics-2021-xmen-3-posthuman-potential-rogue

Extra reading:

  • Secret Empire (2017) #5
  • Punisher: Kill Krew (2019) #2
  • Amazing Spider-Man (2018) #16
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Full Circle (2019) #1
  • Fantastic Four: Grand Design (2019) #2
  • Who Is… The Scarlet Witch Infinity Comic (2022) #1
  • Hulk: Grand Design – Monster (2022) #1
  • Avengers & Moon Girl (2022) #1
  • Fortnite X Marvel: Zero War (2022) #3
  • X-Men & Moon Girl (2022) #1

high-evolutionary-comics-covers-2010s-2020s-ultimates-ewing-avengers-champions-worlds-collide-ross-waid-xmen-duggan


 

High Evolutionary in the Multiverse & Multimedia

The Evolutionary might be coming to live action for the first time in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but the multiverse has plenty more High Evolutionary comics and cartoons! Below is our full list, with a few special recommendations in bold!

High Evolutionary Comics in the Multiverse:

  • Marvel Age (1985) #64 (Hembeck-verse)
  • What If…? (1989) #1 (“What If the Avengers Lost the Evolutionary War?”)
  • Excalibur (1988) #51 (Dino-World!)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #57-58
  • Earth X (1999) #11
    • Universe X (2000) #10-11; 4 #1
  • Startling Stories: Thing – Night Falls on Yancy Street (2003) #1
  • X-Men: The End (2005) #5
  • Marvel Adventures Iron Man (2007) #10
  • Fantastic Four: The End (2007) #2, 6
  • Marvel: NOW WHAT! (2012) #1 (“Marvelpocalypse Now!”)
  • Infinity Warps (2018)
    • Infinity Wars: Weapon Hex (2018) #1-2
    • Secret Warps: Weapon Hex (2019) Annual #1

high-evolutionary-comics-1989-what-if-avengers-lost-evolutionary-war

High Evolutionary in Video Games:

  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance (2012)

High Evolutionary in Movies and TV Shows:

  • X-Men: The Animated Series (1992) S3 E9; S4 E17
  • Spider-Man Unlimited (1999) S1 1-13
  • Super Hero Squad Show (2009) S2 E12, E18
  • Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (2013) S2 E5
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) S2 E2, E7, E19
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

high-evolutionary-guardians-galaxy-vol-3-chukwudi-iwuji


And that’s the saga of High Evolutionary comics! What do you think his role will be in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3? What do you think about his design in the MCU? Let me know on Twitter @vinwriteswords and remember to follow the site @MyCosmicCircus for more cosmic comics content coming soon!

Check out our full list of reading guides here and our Adam Warlock and Scarlet Witch comics guides below!

Adam Warlock Reading Guide

adam-warlock-reading-guide-06

Scarlet Witch Reading Guide

scarlet witch reading guide-8

All images courtesy of Marvel Comics or Marvel/Disney.

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Vin

Reviews, reading guides, and crazy theories. Obsessed with the Midnight Sons. Find me on Twitter @vinwriteswords!

Vin has 134 posts and counting. See all posts by Vin