A Tribute to the of

You would think that at some point Iíd learn.

I was recently at the local Walmart and just for fun I went over to where they sell the comic books. Being a guy whoís into nostalgia, I guess maybe Iím still enjoying the fact that you can once again pick up a comic book at the store. Thatís how the webmaster and I used to do it back in the day, courtesy of the immortal spinner rack.

Anyway, they had a few of what passes for a Super Pac, 4 issues in plastic wrap rather than a poly bag, along with a mini-poster. So now, instead of rolling the dice on whatever was sandwiched between the two visible issues, youíve got just one visible issue. I picked up a few and Iím not quite finished reading through them yet, but thus far itís been kind of disappointing. It feels a lot like a collection of cast-offs or stuff that didnít sell, even though thatís not the business model these days.

I did kind of perk up when I cracked one open and discovered a title that I thought was long defunct. Strange Adventures. Under the DC Black Label, whatever that means. Oddly, the cover depicts Adam Strange, who, as you may recall, hung out in Mystery in Space. Above the title is ďAmazing Science Fiction!Ē And the cover is of a stiffer, card stock sort of material. Issue #2 of 12, though, so Iím already at a disadvantage. Well, maybe thereís something good in here after all.

Or not. The art is excellent and Adam is in his classic togs, but a lot of the story seemed to focus on Mr. Terrific and I found those segments somewhat incomprehensible. As he goes about his civilian life, it seems heís endlessly being quizzed by his T spheres on every topic under the sun. Also, at the beginning, Mr. Terrific visits a book store to pick up a hard cover book about Adam Strange, but itís also under the Strange Adventures title. I dunno. Maybe itís a take-off on the old Adam Strange Adventures they rolled out in the 70s.

Oh, and Mr. Terrific only shows up in costume on the last page when he meets up with Adam Strange to tell him heís read his book and has a few questions. And inexplicably, thereís a quote in the middle of the last page by Alex Toth from The Comics Journal #98: ďIsnít it a little demanding to insist that an artist remain like that for 30 years? Being true to your own principles? No.Ē

In any case, it didnít do much for me. So, naturally, itís time to cleanse the palate and I found a copy of Mystery in Space that Iíve not yet reviewed, so letís take a peek at issue #83 from May of 1963. [+ original art] The on-sale date is March 7 of 1963 with good olí Julie Schwartz editing. Thatís another gem of a Carmine Infantino/Murphy Anderson cover, with the same dynamic duo handling interior art over a Gardner Fox script titled, ďThe Emotion-Master of Space!Ē Is it me or does the little green guy in the Emotionizer on the cover look like a distant cousin to the Great Gazoo?

The splash page is very similar to the cover and sets the stage. The green guy is telling Adam that even though he represents the greatest menace that ever struck Rann, he wonít put up a fight. A seemingly robot-like Adam Strange responds that ďYes, you are my friendónot my enemy! Whatever disaster strikes the people of Rann is of no concern to me!Ē

The story begins on Earth on the next page, where Adam is once again awaiting the Zeta beam that will transport him to Rann. He hovers over the Pacific Ocean when suddenly a volcano emerges from under the ocean and bumps him out of place. Adam uses his ray gun to blast it enough to where he can get back into position and soon heís being whisked away, 25 trillion miles to Alpha Centauri and Rann, where heíll meet up with his truly long-distance sweetheart, Alanna of Ranagar.

Unfortunately, Adam is in for a rude awakening. Alanna is there, but she starts shooting at him with her own ray gun, telling the archaeologist that she hates him. She even blasts his own pistol from his hand, so Adam uses his jet pack to high-tail it to the nearby city, with Alanna in hot pursuit, only to have them fire on him as well.

Adam beats a retreat southward, with the warriors of Ranagar following. He soon finds himself in the ďMisty LandsĒ where multiple geysers send steam into the atmosphere. A good place to hide out while he figures out whatís happening. He then encounters a Ranagaran officer whoís bent on capturing Strange. Adam goes on the offensive, realizing he needs a weapon, so he defeats the officer and takes his pistol.

Moments later, Adam hears a voice in his head, congratulating him on his prowess, but lamenting the fact that heíd hoped the others would have eliminated Adam so that he could proceed with his task. As Adam continues to listen, he starts to fly in a distinct pattern to try and locate this threat. The voice continues that his plan is to shift Rann to a new orbital position a half million light years away.

Adam manages to home in on the voice and demands the alien surrender. After threatening to blast him with his ray gun, the alien simply tells Adam to go ahead, that his Coilodyne is made up of alloys that are impervious to Adamís weapon. Sure enough, our hero cannot do the strange craft any damage.

Then in a panel identical to the cover, the Emotionizer is fired at Adam and he is knocked to the surface of the planet. Adam mutters that heís got to fight, but heís told by the green guy that itís impossible. Adam then replies that he doesnít want to fight any longer and now considers the green guy his friend. As the smug alien departs, he further explains, ďMy Emotionizer can create loveóhateógreedódespair! I made Adam like meójust as I made Alanna hate him!Ē

That dramatic turn of events closes out part I.

Part II opens with things going berserk on Rann. High winds and rainbow colors engulf everything as a stunned Adam Strange looks on. The planet is whirling through many thousands of light years until abruptly Strange notes that things have calmed down, but now a red giant star sun is in the sky instead of the usual Alpha Centauri. Now Adamís only thought is finding his lady love.

He soon does locate Alanna and sheís now her old self. Alanna explains that she was compelled to hate Adam and is now deeply ashamed. After the shift of Rann in space, however, sheís no longer under the influence and neither is Adam. Strange wonders aloud, though, why the odd effort to move Rann.

Alanna says she knows and explains that the green guy, whose name is Lo Pau (sounds like a Chinese restaurant menu item), had appeared to Ranagar and hit them with a monologue/origin tale. He hails from Lorane, under a red star-sun named Shandar. An advanced scientific community, the people of Lorane had created cellular antibodies that destroyed any harmful viruses they might encounter, making them more or less immortal.

Then, a number of years ago, a platinum-skinned bird was spotted in space. The scientists reasoned that its wings must use cosmic radiation to fly. They called it Kalulla and it landed on their planet to feast on the abundant platinum available. Unfortunately, while feeding, the bird gave off a radiation deadly to the inhabitants of Lorane within a range of 100 miles. Their antibodies couldnít handle this new radiation and those in range began to die. None of their weapons were effective against the bird, either. It did leave when it got its fill, but returned every two years to repeat the cycle.

Desperate to save their way of life, the scientists hit upon a plan to shift their planet to another place, to exchange it with a similar one, also rich in platinum, allowing them to escape Kalulla forever.

Now the switch has been made and Lo Pauís efforts have borne fruit. As Adam and Alanna ponder matters, she discovers to her heartbreak that her puppy is dead. It had been eating an herb called Athatale. After some laboratory tests, Adam concludes that this herb has been transformed into a poisonous variety as a result of the movement of the planet. Fortunately, it was the only one affected, but it also provides a potential solution. Strange suggests that if they collect enough of it and smear it onto the platinum deposits, Kalulla will be destroyed.

Not a bad plan, but they soon find that Kalulla is nearly there. Adjusting his plan, Adam proposes intercepting the menace in space with special poison-coated harpoons. Off flies the champion of Rann to take on Kalulla.

Unfortunately, despite Adamís best efforts, the platinum harpoons will not penetrate the birdís skin, so after Kalulla lands, luckily in an uninhabited region, our hero flies off to work on Plan B. This plan involves gathering with the great scientific minds of Rann to create their own version of Kalulla. A duplicate platinum bird, containing a motor that will operate it. Meanwhile, a particular platinum deposit is being poisoned under Strangeís direction with the notion that Kalulla will not want competition for its feeding grounds.

The next morning, Adam Strange mounts a control platform beneath the new creation and the duplicate bird takes flight. As hoped, once Adam flies the bird by Kalulla, he is attacked. Jettisoning himself from the faux bird, Adam put the jetpack into high gear to put at least 100 miles between himself and Kalulla before it began to feed on the designated platinum deposit.

Adam and Alanna observe as Kalulla collapses and dies from ingestion of the poisoned platinum. As they take to the skies again, a familiar voice is heard in Adamís mind. It is Lo Pau, congratulating Adam on accomplishing what they could not; destruction of their nemesis, Kalulla. As a gesture of their good will and gratitude the man from Lorane returns Rann to its proper place and another mission by Adam Strange is a success.

And to think Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson pulled it all off in just 18 pages. Another great science fiction epic from the masters! The backup feature is another tale of the Star Rovers, but Iíll save that for some time in the future.

That, my friends, is how itís done and as usual, I welcome your feedback and commentary. All it takes is an e-mail: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Weíll be back with another review on the 1st of May and rememberÖ

Long live the Silver Age!

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