Review by Win Wiacek
The “thinking man’s hero” returns in this second compilation of adventures on other worlds, reprinting fifteen witty, sophisticated, gloriously illustrated and fantastically imaginative tales from 1961-1962.
Adam Strange Archives Volume 1 cemented the creative dream team of Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, who constantly beguile. The far-flung fantasy continues with ‘Space Island of Peril’, a duel with an alien super-being who plans to throw Rann into its sun, followed by the deceptive ‘Challenge of the Giant Fireflies’ when Adam’s adopted home is menaced by thrill-seeking creatures who live on the surface of our sun.
Anderson returns as inker-in-residence for ‘The Fadeaway Doom’ wherein Rannian General Kaskor makes a unique attempt to seize power by co-opting the Zeta Beam that transports Adam to Rann. ‘Menace of the Aqua-ray Weapon!’ has a race from Rann’s primeval past return to take possession of their old world, whilst ‘The Vengeance of the Dust Devil’ threatens not just Rann but also Earth itself.
‘The Challenge of the Crystal Conquerors’ (inked by Giella) is a sharp game of bluff and double-bluff with the planet at stake, but the following outing departs radically from the tried and true formula. ‘The Multiple Menace Weapon’ finds Adam diverted to Rann in the year 101,961AD to save his descendants before dealing with the threat to his own time and place. This is followed by the action-packed mystery thriller ‘The Invisible Raiders of Rann!’
The puzzles continued with complex thriller ‘The Spaceman who Fought Himself!’, inked by the back-for-good Anderson, leading to a legendary team-up with the freshly-minted Justice League of America against the despicable Kanjar Ro in ‘Planet that came to a Standstill’. It’s indisputably one of the best tales of DC’s early 1960s and a key moment in the development of cross-series continuity.
After that 25 page extravaganza it was back to 14 pages for ‘Challenge of the Rival Starman!’ as Adam becomes the involuntary tutor and stalking-horse for an alien Champion. ‘Ray-Gun in the Sky!’ is an invasion mystery inviting readers to solve the puzzle before our hero does, and ‘Shadow People of the Eclipse’ pits the Earthman against a bored alien thrill-seeker. ‘The Metal Conqueror of Rann’ sees him fighting a much more personal battle to bring Alanna back from the brink of death.
The book closes with ‘The Deadly Shadows of Adam Strange’ wherein an old enemy returns to wreak a bizarre personal revenge on the Champion of Two Worlds. The Fox and Infantino wonder concludes in Adam Strange Archives Volume 3.
These short-story thrillers from a distant time still hold great appeal and power for the wide-eyed and far-seeing. The deluxe Archive format makes a fitting home for the extraordinary exploits of Adam Strange: by far and away some of the best written and drawn science fiction comics ever produced. However, if you have the money, there’s the even more luxurious Adam Strange: The Silver Age Omnibus, but the stories also look good in black and white as found in Showcase Presents Adam Strange.