Monday, January 4, 2010

I Rann, I Rann So Far Away... Showcase #17

Adam Strange is an ordinary, everyday archaeologist. Well, more like a movie serial archaeologist who happens to discover a lost Incan treasure (without lifting a shovel) gets chased by hostile natives and leaps over a cliff. But that's not the far-fetched part.

As Adam makes his risky leap, he is teleported from Earth to the planet Rann, orbiting the "star-sun" Alpha Centauri- 25 trillion miles away. Strange finds himself in the company of a pretty young woman who takes him to see her scientist father. Their language barrier is overcome easily by hooking Adam to the "Menticizer" a "remarkable device that lets our children talk from the day they are born!" - I love how space people and people from the future always seem so excited by what are clearly mundane things in their own world. - Also, "children talk from the day they are born?". Really? What do they say? "Hungry!", "Wet!" "Sleepy!" "There you are!"... what a breakthrough.

Once Adam can understand Alanna and her father Sardath, Sardath explains Adam's bizarre arrival on the planet Rann. Apparently, Rann sent out radio beams to Earth a little over 4 years ago hoping to communicate with Earth. Somehow the radio beams were transformed into a teleportation beam or "Zeta-Beam". It took a little over 4 years because Alpha Centauri is 4.3 light years from Sol.

Now I'm no astrophysicist, but firstly, do radio waves travel at light speed?? Not that I'm aware of. Secondly, if the "Zeta-Beam" travels at light speed and it took 4.3 light years to reach Earth... wouldn't it have taken another 4.3 years for Adam Strange to reach Rann????

Any way, despite Rann's superior, advanced technology it takes a clodhopper from Earth to defeat an alien invasion (don't you people rate a Green Lantern?). Which just happens to start right after Adam Strange arrives. Which is pretty much the theme of every Adam Strange story of the entire Silver Age.

Adam Strange is a likeable comic. It borrows heavily from John Carter of Mars and Buck Rogers, but has it's own, unique voice. The way each story ends with Adam being teleported back to Earth, away from a world of adventure and the woman he loves is somehow genuinely poigniant. Strange lives his life on Earth counting the days, hours and minutes until the next Zeta-Beam to Rann. I can imagine a few readers found themselves counting the weeks until the next issue of Mystery in Space.


  1. Aaron: What I loved best about Adam Strange was the love between the two principals, Adam and Alanna. One of the great comic book romances of all time. It always felt very geniune to me. Remember those panels of Adam Strange staring up at the heavens, thinking of the faraway planet where Alanna was? Great stuff. -- Mykal

  2. Carmine Infantino's elegant, rhythmic figure drawing and his airy, open design sense also add to the mood of sci-fi longing.

  3. Some terrific comics in that run: Beast With the Sizzling Blue Eyes, Planet that Came to a Standstill, and Planets in Peril are all on the shortlist for the finest stories of the Silver Age.