A Tribute to the of






He’s 60! Happy anniversary to Adam Strange!

I like the character a great deal, but for some reason he’s received kind of short shrift here at the dear ol’ Silver Lantern. As I looked back through the voluminous (and growing) archives, I see where we’ve covered his origin, way back in Sage #17, a couple of other notable stories in Sage #140 and #150 in particular with the Justice League joining in and finally in #301, so he’s overdue for some love and what better time than his 60th year?

I did a quick dig in the files and located a story that I cannot believe I haven’t looked at before. It’s got one of those unforgettable, dare I say Iconic, covers that aptly illustrates the nature of the Man of Two Worlds. Check out that excellent cover to Mystery in Space #82 from March of 1963 by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson. Alex Rossversion adorns Adam’s Wikipedia entry and while I adore Ross’ work, I’m not sure this is much of an improvement on the original. Maybe the perspective? Something about it just doesn’t quite do it for me like the original, despite Alex’s masterful brush.

I was also looking through the lettercol out of both curiosity and looking for any familiar names when I was reminded of something. At least in the Mystery in Space title, they were doing everything they could to drum up letters from the fans and as an added incentive, gave away the original script and art to select writers. I was insanely jealous to think that the three listed in this issue's lettercol (along with who knows how many others) received part I or part II of the issue they were writing about ( #79 in this case) with all those pages by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson. Where are they now?

Anyway, as to the rest of the credits, “World War on Earth and Rann!” was scribed by the great Gardner Fox with the same art team on interiors, all under the watchful editorial eye of Julius Schwartz, although I did note a couple of errors that Julie should have caught and while I don’t know who lettered this story, it started with them.

Yeah, mistakes happen, but I’m always reminded of something a professor told me in one of my college courses about how a mistake can feel like a pothole on the road when you’re reading and I’ve seldom heard a more apt analogy. I’ll note them later, just to get them out of my head, but meanwhile, off to Rann, where, on the splash page, Adam and his lady love from Rann, Allanna, are firing their ray-guns at an “indestructible flying lens.” They keep calling it that all through the story, but you tell me if it just doesn’t look like a gigantic magnifying glass whose handle just so happens to be jet propelled. What I wouldn’t have given to interview Gardner Fox. I can just see him sitting in his study (as shown in Detective Comics #347 [Sage #83]) and noticing a magnifying glass and thinking, “Hmmm.

Adam, via the trusty Zeta beam, is on his latest visit to the third planet from the star-sun Alpha Centauri, otherwise known as Rann, a mere hop, skip and jump 25 trillion miles from Earth, where Alanna of Ranagar awaits his arrival. Also in attendance are some protesters holding signs that inform Adam that he’s not welcome. Strange is surprised that they can write in English and Alanna explains that they used a device called the Menticulizer, which is Editor Schwartz’s cue to include one of his handy explanatory captions: “A remarkable Rann invention for mentally teaching one a foreign language.” Sounds a bit like an Absorbascon, don’t you think?

Alanna dismisses them as backward citizens, bent on blaming Adam for catastrophes that always seem to happen when he visits Rann. Adam concedes that it seems trouble tends to follow him and he cannot shake the feeling that something bad is about to befall Rann during his latest visit.

Back at Ranagar, there is a competition for Rann’s Scientist of the Year. For whatever odd reason, Adam presents the award to Akor Barth of Anathul for his radiation detector. Meanwhile, behind a curtain, another man looks on, thinking that he is the rightful recipient, but why should he share his invention when he can use it to take over Rann.

At the honorarium banquet, Akor Barth presents Adam with a duplicate of his invention as a token of gratitude for all the times the Earthman has saved Rann from peril. Adam accepts and thinks that who knows but what it may help him with a future dilemma.

Following is some idyllic recreation with Adam and his love as they ride steeds of Rann to catch up with Xlla, a horned, antelope-like creature, enjoying quiet time together and dining at the ice caves. It is during their romantic dinner that Adam notes melting within the cave. Upon investigation he sees the giant flying lens, focusing the rays of the sun down onto the surface of Rann. Using their jet packs to fly up to this new threat, Adam and Alanna quickly learn that their ray-guns have no effect on it. A disembodied voice commands Akalon to surrender or be destroyed. The defenses of Akalon are equally ineffective as they fire nuclear warheads at the flying lens. Soon, the huge glass fries Akalon and wouldn’t you know that the Zeta beam chooses that moment to wear off and Strange is instantly transported back to his native Earth.

We find the archaeologist stewing in his New York City apartment, feeling helpless and wondering what to do. A handful of days later, he is again in his Rann togs, preparing for the next Zeta beam when he puts on the news, only to learn that the Earth is under threat from futuristic war planes that have appeared over major Earth cities like Washington, London, Moscow and Paris. (I wonder if the estate of Gardner Fox has had a word with the makers of “Independence Day”? This sounds kinda familiar…)

The broadcast continues: “A voice has called on the nations of the world to surrender to science wizard Manlo Tallifa! Or else—be totally annihilated! Manlo Tallifa demands that he be made overlord of Earth!

Talifa then proceeds to illustrate his power. He displays some ray-bomb plans from World War IV, explaining that he can reach into the future for weapons. Right after that is error #1 in the story (page 6) when Manlo’s dialogue says this: “By disrupting the radiant layers that maintain the proper flaw of time I can reach into the future and bring it’s terrible war weapons to our own time!” Yes, it says “flaw” rather than “flow.”

He then further demonstrates his power by detonating a nuke from World War III over a mock set of New York on a Pacific island. He again demands surrender and an agape Adam Strange ponders how to deal with this threat. Thinking quickly, he grabs the radiation detector given to him by the Rann scientist, hoping it will lead him to Manlo Tallifa. Soon our hero has arrived at the Oregon Rockies. (Sorry, Gardner. I was born in Oregon. It’s the Cascade Mountain Range.) Unbeknownst to Adam, though, his arrival has been detected by Manlo Tallifa, who is preparing a devastating welcome, ending Part I of the story.

Part II (page 8) opens with error #2 when the first panel caption identifies the World War V flight destroyers hurtling toward our hero. A few pages back they were described as being from World War IV. Ah, well, what’s a Roman numeral among friends?

Anyway, after some aerial acrobatics and ray-gun blasts, Adam discovers his efforts are just as ineffective as they were against the giant flying lens and he retreats. Good timing, too, as the Zeta beam strikes and he is reunited with Alanna, who is on a rocket-propelled flier that looks a lot like a futuristic flying carpet. They are soon speeding toward Ranagar while Alanna fills Adam in on what has transpired since his absence. “While you were gone, the lens destroyed Akalon—but every other city it approached on its one-a-day schedule surrendered to it! But strangely enough, whoever controls the lens hasn’t even bothered to appear and accept the surrenders!” Furthermore, the controller of the lens had announced that the lens will always remain, even if anything happens to him. “The lens will automatically destroy the entire planet!

Adam begins to hatch a plan, beginning with the observation that whoever controls the lens cannot be physically with the flying contraption as the attacks on it would destroy anyone nearby. Therefore, he must be in each of the cities controlling it from the ground. Strange decides to bring the radiation detector into play again to track down the villain. At that very moment, however, the lens appears and the odd public address system says they’ll never use it to find him and promptly sends a magnified sunbeam down to destroy the device in Adam’s hand.

As Alanna, renders some first aid to Adam’s hand, he insists they must surrender as a ploy to buy some time. Sardath, Alanna’s father, does so and Adam and Alanna start their homework. Soon Adam deduces a pattern with the travels of the lens. He discovers that the man controlling it is using the pneumatic postal delivery tubes to send the controller to himself in each city on Rann and guiding the lens to them.

Moving quickly on to Berengaria, the site of the next post office, Adam arranges with the postal authorities to let them lie in wait for whomever receives the electronic device. Adam lies in wait and when signaled, pounces upon a familiar looking scientist and delivers a haymaker before opening the package and uncovering the controller.

Soon Adam uses the controller to bring the lens down to the ground, where he patiently waits with his hand on it, intending to take it back to Earth with him during the next Zeta beam where he’ll use it to tackle the menace to his home planet.

After the Zeta beam transport, we see Adam with controller in hand, flying with the lens toward the Cascade Mountain Range. (Good, they got it right in the caption this time.) Adam positions it to send deadly magnified sun radiation at Manlo Tallifa’s science machines. Even though he’s deployed the bomber planes, they cannot destroy the lens. Just as he’s about to triumph, the power source for the lens peters out. Realizing he has an indestructible object, Adam Strange jury-rigs a missile by guiding it with the help of his jet pack, straight toward the cavern stronghold of Manlo Tallifa. The dazed villain emerges and Adam knocks him out, ending this 16-page tale of science fiction adventure.

How many times have I gushed over the writing prowess of Gardner Fox and how often have I remarked about my continued love of science fiction? This story was another classic in the Adam Strange adventures with plenty of action, science (fiction) and detective work, romance and good old-fashioned heroics. Throw in the superb art team of Infantino and Anderson and how can you go wrong with the Man of Two Worlds?

Here’s to another 60 years of Adam Strange!

Thanks, as always, for joining us, dear readers. We are doing our level best to chronicle and honor the greatest age of comics in DC’s gone but never forgotten Silver Age. If you’ve got comments or suggestions, feel free to fire off an e-mail and we’ll be happy to hear from you. You should know the address by now: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you on the 15th of November and…

Long live the Silver Age!



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