Friday, April 20, 2012

Adam Strange--science fiction superhero

I do not remember when it was that I first laid eyes on the comic book character of Adam Strange but I do remember my reaction.

Adam Strange wore a jumpsuit and a rocket pack on his back.  Atop his head was a sort of dorsal fin.  In his hand he gripped a laser gun.  It was an anachronistic throwback to the Buck Rogers, Rocketeer style of science fiction.  The sight of him should have offended my rebellious tendencies as an adolescent.  But it didn't.  In fact, there was a "fun" quality to his simplicity, something that harkened back to days of purity in science fiction.

The story of Adam Strange is somewhat molded after John Carter from Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Strange is an archeologist.  While exploring ancient ruins in Peru, he is suddenly hit by a beam of energy.  In mere moments, he finds himself transported to the planet Rann.  He comes to find that what he experienced was a ride on a "Zeta Beam," an experiment conducted by a Rannian scientist named Sardath.  By the way, Rannians appear identical to humans but their technology is vastly superior.  But I digress..

By using the Zeta Beam, Sardath was attempting to communicate with Earth.  It instead had the effect of snagging one of its inhabitants.  Lucky for Rann.  In but a short amount of time, the skill and intelligence of Adam Strange was needed to help Rann defeat an alien menace.  Given Rannian technology, Adam saved the day...and fell in love with Alanna, Sardath's blue-haired daughter.  Eventually the effects of the Zeta Beam wear off and Adam Strange is flung back to Earth.  Not to worry.  The Zeta beam apparently runs like a Chicago El train and has its own schedule of stops on Earth.  Provided Adam Strange can get to the beam on time, he can go back to his love and his adopted world.

Adam Strange tussled with several of DC's mean, galactic bad guys.  Among them being the slaver Kanjar Ro and the Manhawks.  Speaking of the latter, Strange would crossover with Hawkman from time to time, most notably in a crossover storyline entitled, "The World That Vanished."  Adam Strange was never a big enough draw to quite merit his own book, but he was given devoted stories in DC's Mystery In Space.  In more recent years, he played a key role in the limited series The Rann-Thanagar War and was a pivotal character in DC's landmark 52.  It was around this time that Adam Strange was also treated to great writing by Jim Starlin.

Just where the character fits in with the entire reboot of the DC universe is something I don't know.  Hopefully he still inhabits Rann, helping them and us fend off threats from space.  You see, since Adam Strange was not possessed of any "super powers," he had think his way out of situations more often than not.  True, he had advanced technology on his side but it was Strange's brain that got him through, that keen intellect that allowed him to observe and deduce the Achilles heels of his villains.  He was, after all, an academic at heart.  A "thinking man's" comic book hero.

All that and a cool, classic science fiction look.  How can you go wrong?

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