Review by Win Wiacek
Oooh, look! Married With Jetpacks. It’s a glimpse of true heaven…
For many older gents the era of superhero comics of the late 1950s and early 1960s is the ideal era. Varnished by nostalgia, the clean-cut, uncomplicated optimism of that era produced captivating heroes, and villains who were still far less terrifying than the Cold War baddies which troubled the grown-ups. The sheer talent and professionalism of the creators working in that spectacularly vivid world resulted in triumph after triumph, brightening young lives and still glowing today with quality and achievement.
One of the most compelling stars of those days was an ordinary Earthling who commuted to another world for spectacular adventures, armed with nothing more than a ray-gun, a jetpack and his own ingenuity. His name was Adam Strange, and like so many of that era’s triumphs he was the brainchild of editor Julius Schwartz with Murphy Anderson creating his distinctive red jumpsuit and finned helmet. The character was then passed to Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky.
His introduction is as an archaeologist fleeing from enraged villagers in Peru. He jumps a 25 ft. chasm only to be hit by a stray teleport beam from a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri and materialises in another world, actually named Rann, filled with giant plants and monsters. He’s rescued by a beautiful woman named Alanna who teaches him her language.
Rann is recovering from atomic war, and the beam was in fact a simple flare, one of many sent in an attempt to communicate with other races. In the four years since (speed of light, right? – Alpha Centauri is about 4.3 light years from Sol), the Zeta-Flare travelled through cosmic radiation, converting it into a teleportation beam. Until the radiation drains from his body Strange will be a very willing prisoner on a fantastic world.
Fox and Sekowsky produce the first three adventures, but it’s Carmine Infantino’s then very modern, now stylishly retro designs most associated with Adam Strange. Rann’s inhabitants could pass for human, but Infantino’s other-worldly landscapes, alien invaders and futuristic technology dazzled at the time, and as inked by Anderson still looks clean and crisp.
A succession of mind-expanding adventures follow, Fox constantly creative in providing threats that Adam outwitted in style. Remember, he was armed with jetpack, raygun and ingenuity. Whether for nostalgia’s sake, for your own entertainment or even to get your own impressionable ones properly indoctrinated, you really need to go on his voyage of discovery.
These adventures are in black and white on pulp paper, but can be found in colour over the first two Adam Strange Archives, or combined in slightly larger form as Adam Strange: The Silver Age Omnibus.