Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Strange Adventures #242. Adam Strange in a not so strange land.

Strange Adventures #242, Adam Strange, giant magnifying glass, Carmine Infantino
When I was a kid, I used to tie washing-up liquid bottles to my back, jump up and down and pretend to be an astronaut. I can't deny astronauts aren't in the habit of strapping washing-up liquid bottles to their back, and so this made no sense but still I did it.

Happily I'm not alone, as interplanetary adventurer Adam Strange seems to have had the same idea.

Strange Adventures #242, Adam Strange, giant magnifying glass, Carmine InfantinoThe truth is I don't know a lot about Adam Strange. This is the only comic I ever had that features him but the story inside seems to be well remembered, as I randomly switched on my TV a few months back and caught a Justice League type cartoon that recycled its plot.

A mad scientist with a giant magnifying glass is threatening to destroy cities on the planet Rann. Just to prove all scientists need a slap, back on Earth, another one's threatening to destroy cities, with planes he's stolen from the future. In the end, our intrepid hero uses the magnifying glass to thwart the planes, and everyone's happy apart from the scientists.

The main thing that strikes me about this tale is how good it looks. Drawn by Carmine Infantino - known always to me as that bloke with the cigar in the huge Superman meets Spider-Man comic - it's from 1963 and, when I think how Marvel comics from that era look, it's clearly a whole lot more sophisticated, both in terms of art and writing.

Of course, it could also be argued, it's less bursting with vigour than those titles but somehow that doesn't make it any less pleasing. There's an odd kind of almost peaceful elegance about it that makes it one of the most fondly remembered comics of my childhood and, even as an adult, I can appreciate it, which isn't always the case with stories of its age.

The comic also features a back-up tale, yet another early 1960s reprint, one that you know must have turned up in an Alan Class comic at some point. A pair of time agents turn up in the present to prevent a man starting his car. Thanks to highly unlikely science, the act of starting his car'll cause a catastrophe that'll set the human race back 100,000 years. There's a twist at the end that I didn't see coming, mostly because you'd have to be psychic to see it coming. All in all, the tale's a bit lame but whoever said lameness had to be a bad thing?


Anonymous said...

Once a month or so, Adam Strange would get hit with the Zeta beam and be instantly teleported to Rann. The (supposedly random) beam had good timing, because he always arrived just in time to defeat the latest regularly scheduled invasion, or solve some other crisis. Sarcasm aside, this was one of the best Silver Age science fiction strips.

Steve W. said...

I do like what I've seen of it.