Continuing through trade paperbacks that feature Adam Strange, Max takes on Countdown to Adventure which reunites the characters Adam Strange, Animal Man and Starfire for an adventure that spans two worlds!
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.
Today I read my final trade paperback featuring Adam Strange, Countdown to Adventure which also features Animal Man and Starfire. The book reprints the series of the same name which ran for eight issues starting in 2007 as part of DC’s Countdown to Final Crisis. It was written by Adam Beechen and the first three issues/chapters were drawn by Eddie Barrows with Allan Goldman did the rest with Julio Ferreira, Jay Leisten, Oclair Albert and Wilson Magalhaes inked it and Tanya & Richard Hoire colored it. As part of the original issues, it featured backups with some blue elven character who is so forgettable I forgot her name completely and had to look it up: Forerunner. Fortunately, DC didn’t bother trying to reprint her stories in this collection and focused on the Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man story.
Why these three characters you ask? Well, following Infinite Crisis, DC did a follow up event, 52. Part of it featured Adam Strange, Animal Man and Starfire out in space after fighting in Infinite Crisis, and they spent a whole lost and run into a nasty alien queen called Lady Styx. The trio’s adventures were enjoyable enough that DC reunited them for the Countdown to Adventure mini-series, which actually ties into Final Crisis and Countdown to Final Crisis a lot less than Rann-Thanagar War does to Infinite Crisis—especially without the inclusion of the Forerunner stuff. Working as a pretty decent standalone story, Countdown to Adventure showcases the best aspects of the three characters in a pretty impossible challenge to both Earth and Rann.
The story starts with Adam Strange vacationing with friends on Rann, and Animal Man and Starfire have peaceful beginnings on Earth too, with Starfire returning from space thinking Animal Man dead and collapsing on his doorstep. Buddy Baker AKA Animal Man, who gained enhanced powers while in space, returns from the cosmos shortly thereafter, and gives the resting Starfire refuge in his house.
Meanwhile, Adam Strange is relieved from duty as Rann’s protector, as Champ Hazard, the star of the movie Buddy Baker is working as a stuntman on is Zeta Beamed to Rann to be their new defender as he is a former cage fighter—which Sardath believes will be an improvement on Adam Strange, who was just an archeologist and not a trained man of action. Back on Rann, Sardath further justifies the decision by pointing out not only Hazard’s physical abilities but Adam’s own desire to devote time to his family, and Strange is stripped of his equipment. Adam and Alanna Strange do their best to make it in Rann without Sardath’s support, and it’s about this time that people start acting crazy on both worlds. It’s the influence of Lady Styx, who is infecting and enraging the populations of Earth and Rann, leaving it up to the heroes to find a cure or risk eradication of all life of their respective populations.
What’s really great about this story is it captures the essences of the characters so well, namely showing Adam Strange using his wits and refusing to give up and keeping his cool in impossible odds, so much like in the original stories. Animal Man is a little, er, distracted by Starfire, but ultimately his head is in the game and his heart is with his family, as he develops a hold on the great expansion to his powers. Starfire has lost her powers on the other hand, and tries to lead a “normal” life until the crisis breaks out but is an independent warrior at her core, and though she is rescued once, she lets everyone know she can take care of herself and does so.
Actually, the scene where Starfire needed to be rescued made me a bit uncomfortable as she was already fighting an opponent with a knife without her powers, and she gets cut up pretty bad. It made me think of Gail Simone’s original Women in Refrigerators blog but again, Starfire doesn’t let any one make a habit of rescuing her and her not having her powers actually plays into the story a bit.
There’s much more good than bad though, as seeing Animal Man’s new “cosmic” (for lack of a better word) powers in action was really cool, as it hadn’t really been followed up on much since 52. Also, there is a time when Adam Strange must don his classic gear over the new costume he gained in Planet Heist. It’s pretty neat. Writer Adam Beechen “gets” Adam Strange. Not only does Beechen have Strange outthink his enemies, he also at one point wishes he had Alanna as support more than he’d like his super hero pals Animal Man and Starfire backing him up.
Overall, a highly enjoyable read. When I finally went to sleep in the morning, I had vivid dreams that I had more Adam Strange adventures to read, and I didn’t want to wake up. I do have a couple things left, if I count Adam Strange’s appearances in R.E.B.E.L.S. and if I want to read the individual issues of Rann-Thanagar Holy War I have those too (but not the trades), but other than that, it’s time to move on to other characters.
Unfortunately, while Animal Man and Starfire are around in DC’s New 52, Adam Strange has yet to be seen in the DCnU, but it’s way early yet. I’m sure he’ll pop up sooner than later, and when he does it will be interesting to see how DC (re-) introduces the character to the masses. When they do, I hope they’ll remember him as the “thinking man’s hero” and keep Adam Strange’s wits a key part of who he is.
Up next is Ambush Bug. We had Super-Fly owner Tony Barry over for dinner tonight and he asked me what Ambush Bug’s deal is. I told him that he’s a teleporter and had kinda an electronic suit with microchips in it (which I remember from a comic when I was a kid), and maybe had a couple appearances where he was with regular super heroes, but mainly did parody comics where he broke the fourth wall—kinda like Deadpool before Deadpool. But that’s about all I know. So I’m looking forward to finding all about Ambush Bug next!
NOTES FROM NOW (8/12/12): Countdown to Adventure is a really neat story, especially fans of 52 who really dug the whole Adam Strange/Animal Man/Starfire team. It turned out, not very long after writing this entry that I found I actually did have the first volume of Rann-Thanagar Holy War and later ordered the second from Super-Fly, but didn’t go ahead with reading those because of the stuff that happens in Mystery in Space and Strange Adventures in between them. I may jump out of my normal reading order (which I’ve already kind of done anyway at this point) to do all of those books sometime soon, but we’ll see.
Also, stay tuned for a look at Animal Man and his respective books following coverage on Ambush Bug!