(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with cosmic comics and their many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)
By Byron Brewer
Created by the men behind Justice League of America, Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky, DC’s space hero Adam Strange is reminiscent of Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series. Both characters have origins in which they are chased by threatening aboriginal peoples only to find themselves mysteriously transported at the last moment to distant planets where they become heroic figures.
In Carter’s case this is to Mars, while Adam Strange is transported to Rann. Both characters long to travel to a strange world to fight alien opponents and be united with a beloved woman who resided there. Although the John Carter stories depict a raw sort of adventure that includes swordplay, physical action, nudity and bloodletting, these are absent from Fox and Sekowsky’s Adam Strange.
Strange is an archeologist by trade suddenly transported from Peru, Earth, to the planet Rann through the “Zeta Beam.” (Natch!) Called on to protect the planet from ETs using high-tech weaponry, Strange grew to care for the planet and its inhabitants, especially the blue-haired Alanna and her father Sardath, whose experiments were responsible for the ray that had brought him.
Eventually, the effects of the beam wore off, automatically returning Strange to Earth at the exact point of departure, but not before Sardath had given him a schedule of beam firings allowing him to periodically return to the planet.
Independently wealthy, Strange traveled Earth, intercepting the scheduled Zeta Beams to defend Rann and be with Alanna. Although never a headlining character, Strange has had a consistent presence in the DCU.
Planet Heist, a 2004 eight-issue mini, written by Andy Diggle and penciled by Pasqual Ferry, updated Strange’s appearance and abilities by giving him a new costume, a spacesuit that allows for interstellar travel. In the series, Adam was prepared to relocate to Rann permanently when he was informed that the planet was destroyed and that he was blamed for its destruction.
In fact, Sardath transported Rann to another dimension to save the planet from the cosmic being Starbreaker (cool moniker, eh?), intent on destroying the planet. Adam, with the help of the Omega Men and the Darkstars (coming soon in Threshold, we hope!), among others, saved Rann and defeated the evil being.
When Rann was moved, its orbit was believed to have pushed the planet Thanagar (think Hawkman) closer to its sun, destroying much of the surface (it was later discovered that the actions of Superboy-Prime moved Thanagar). Many Thanagarians were relocated to Rann, but enmity between the two races resulted in a war, depicted in Rann-Thanagar War.
Strange, working with Hawkman, Hawkwoman and Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Kilowog, tries to end the conflict; it is a six-issue precursor to DC’s 2005-06 limited series/crossover event, Infinite Crisis. Strange was eventually able to end the war when he discovered evidence of Superboy-Prime’s role in Thanagar’s relocation.
Eventually, Strange became protector of Rann as well as a senior commander of L.E.G.I.O.N., ensuring peace with the Green Lantern Corps. He also helped create an alliance between Rannians, Tamaranians and L.E.G.I.O.N. after defeating Starro the Conqueror, ensuring security for Rann, the Vega System and the galaxy.
To my knowledge, Adam Strange has yet to appear in the New 52. But Keith Giffen is penning Threshold and we hear Jim Starlin is starting a new series for DC. Times seem good, don’t they?