Leaving the Charlton characters in his rear view mirror, Max gets to Adam Strange, DC’s “Man of Two Worlds” in The Adam Strange Archives Vol. 1. Learn all about the man in the jet pack known as Adam Strange, his star crossed romance and classic sci-fi adventures here!
Super-Fly Comics & Games’ plucky sidekick Max Lake has embarked on a journey to read his collection of DC & other comics! Join Max each week every Friday as he takes on his Library! Titles reviewed by this blog do not necessarily reflect what the store has in stock, but you can always email the store to special order something that you’ve seen here at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Super-Fly at (937) 767-1445 or just ask someone at the store next time you’re there for special orders. You can read past entries of the blog here. Any questions or comments for Max should be sent to email@example.com or feel free to comment in the comments section below. Check out @maxdlake to follow Max on Twitter. The things Max writes do not necessarily reflect the views of Super-Fly Comics & Games, and Super-Fly Comics & Games is not responsible for what Max says—especially anything that bugs you.
Entry written late 1/16/12 and into 1/17/12
A new episode of Hoarders was on tonight, but I only mention this as there was one woman’s house so bad that I immediately took to cleaning a desk in my office so I could set up a spare computer and hook my printer/scanner up to it. The desk hadn’t been cleaned in ages, and my printer was no longer compatible with my main computer, so now that I have it hooked up and working, I can start scanning pieces of comic art for these articles. Yay!
Got to start the Adam Strange Archives Vol. 1 today and it was great to move on from the Charlton heroes to Adam Strange, who is one of my wife’s favorite characters, and I like him a lot too. I read many of his collected modern appearances a few months back in an earlier undocumented attempt to read my collection. However, I had never read any of his Silver Age adventures before last night and early this morning, but I like what I’m reading so far. A lot actually; I only put the book down because I need to go to bed before the sun comes up or my wife will be pissed!
DC’s best known sci-fi hero has quite a foundation worked up over his first few adventures. Adam Strange is an archeologist who after discovering lost treasure is pursued by an Inca tribe with claim to the gold and jewels. Adam must make a daring leap to escape death by Incan spears, and at that instant is transported via Zeta Beam to Rann for the first time. There he meets the beautiful Alanna, who introduces Adam to her father Sardath, and helps Adam break the language barrier with a device called a Menticizer found in Sardath’s lab.
From there, the adventures begin, though Adam doesn’t don his trademark costume until the second story. Adam and Alanna fall in love, and Adam steps up to save Alanna’s city Ranagar any chance he gets. Better yet, Alanna is no damsel in distress and actually is an equal partner in Adam’s adventures. At first, Ranagar is not so technically advanced, until after one of the early stories, incredibly advanced scientists from an earlier enlightened age of Rann who were camping out in the fourth dimension beam back to Ranagar to share their tech to stave off invasion.
In every story, Adam must find and meet the Zeta Beam coming to Earth to make it back to Rann to see Alanna. This can be pretty entertaining as Adam jet sets around the globe just to meet the beams—sometimes nearly not making it in time. I started wondering how the hell Adam Strange was figuring out when and where to meet the Zeta Beams until it’s explained a few stories in that Adam does a calculation based on his knowledge of Earth’s and Rann’s orbits and the speed of Zeta Beams. Every time Adam beams back to Rann, there’s a new crisis that has struck since the last time he left that he must face. Immediately after solving the crisis, he beams back to Earth unexpectedly. Rinse, repeat. It’s pretty formulaic, but that seems to be this volume’s only downfall so far. However, the sci-fi concepts in each issue vary quite a bit story to story. Adam’s departure can also be dramatic sometimes, as he fades suddenly without warning. Often Alanna is left alone saying goodbye to thin air, while Adam is shown back on Earth swearing he’ll be back to see Alanna soon. True star crossed lovers!
Garder Fox, considered one of comics’ all time greats, wrote all the stories in this volume and they are all high quality. Whereas some of the Captain Atom stories exhibited two or three imaginative ideas an issue at best, Fox’s Adam Strange stories explode with awe inspiring creativity in each story. It’s really given me a new appreciation for the Silver Age. Comics were so simple back then, where telling a good story was what mattered, not events or continuity or any of the baloney that is standard fare today. From one story where Adam Strange and Alanna must shrink down to avoid all of Ranagar being trapped in an atom universe to playing a game of life or death with an alien shape shifter to outwitting a sentient energy being named Zakkad, there’s lots of cool ideas and unique twists. One story starts out by saying “While Earthmen still must wait for the time they can journey to the moon and nearby planets—one man on Earth already knows the secret of instantaneous space travel!” (My italics) Later, Adam Strange is called “the first man in space.” It’s then it hits that this stuff was written over fifty years ago yet still is vastly entertaining.
The last two stories I read tonight featured giant vehicle robots acting like Trojan horses (Adam Strange’s analogy, not mine) and a tale of Adam being framed by inner planetary rock humanoids of Rann who steal some advanced weaponry from Ranagar. Adam pulls through in both stories, natch, and I can’t wait to read more tomorrow, especially looking at the cover for the next story. Drawn by Gil Kane, it looks like an old pulp cover with Adam Strange and Alanna taking on a giant lizard. Classic!