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Comic Book / Adam Strange

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Adam Strange is a DC Comics space hero character from the 1950s, who still appears occasionally in their comics and cartoons. He was created by Gardner Fox, and first appeared in Showcase #17 (November, 1958). After three try-out issues in Showcase, he became a regular feature in Mystery in Space beginning with #53 (August, 1959).

Adam was an ordinary Earthman, an archeologist who was teleported to the planet Rann (located in the Alpha Centauri solar system, the closest to Earth) accidentally after being hit by the zeta beam, a communications beam invented by a Rannian scientist named Sardath that was somehow altered en route to become a teleportation effect. Adam fell in love with Sardath's daughter, Alanna, but it turned out that the zeta-beam's effects only lasted a few hours, and then he was returned to Earth. Adam then calculated where the next zeta beam would strike Earth, and made sure to be at that spot so he could return to Alanna, even if only for short intervals at a time. In addition, he helped protect Rann from various menaces, monsters and aliens, using a Rannian jet pack and a raygun, plus, most notably, his wits and scientific knowledge.

In other words, this series was essentially a Silver Age, Comics Code-friendly version of John Carter of Mars.

Adam is a long-time ally of the Justice League of America, though not a member. (At least until recently.)

Eventually, a way to make the z-effect permanent was found, and Adam stayed on Rann, and married Alanna.

A two-issue story in the Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing stated that Adam was not transported by accident, but rather that the Rannians needed him to help repopulate their species as nuclear war had rendered them sterile. The idea was further developed in a three-issue miniseries by Richard Bruning in which Adam learned the truth, Sardath went mad, and Alanna was killed off. This Retcon was quietly undone in the late 1990s by Mark Waid, who revealed Alanna was still alive and casually had Adam mention curing Sardath's madness. The "sterile Rann" Retcon has gone unmentioned since, and associated miniseries seems to have tacitly slipped into Canon Discontinuity.

In the New 52, Adam and Alanna are members of Justice League United, and their origin is tied to the team's. However. Alanna was given a Race Lift as a black female from Earth, at least Half-Human Hybrid child of Sardath born on Earth by Issue 16.

Adam returned to prominence in a 12-issue miniseries as part of the DC Black Label, Strange Adventures (2020). Written by Tom King, with art from Mitch Gerads and Evan "Doc" Shaner, the novel focuses on a recently-retired Adam Strange, the things he did on Rann, and whether or not those were war crimes. Adam and Alanna try to hold their lives together, on Earth and on Rann, as the Pykkts prepare a new invasion force and Earth's superhero community tries to figure out the truth.

No relation to Professor Hugo Strange from Batman's rogues gallery, or the Marvel character Adam Warlock or Doctor Strange.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Adam is an archaeologist but it rarely plays into his adventures.
  • After the End: Rann suffered from a nuclear war that plunged the civilization into collections of warring city-states, except for Rannagar which still retained its technological advances and attempting to restore the remnants civilization into a more pristine state. In Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, the entire planet suffered from drought-borne famine and declining birth rate from lingering radiation.
  • Badass Bookworm: Adam is quite smart but also pretty tough.
  • Badass Normal: Alanna, who did not have the same aptitude as her husband Adam but still able to hold out on her own.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: Rannagar's neighboring planet of Anthorann was colonized just before the apocalypse in the same first issue. Their descendents also help out the restoration of their post-apocalyptic civilization.
  • Darker and Edgier: Adam's two issue appearance in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and the three-issue miniseries "The Man of Two Worlds". Although Moore is often blamed for driving this change, it was revealed in the letter column of Swamp Thing that the mini-series was already in the works when Moore came to write his stories, and he was asked to reflect its nature.
  • Death by Childbirth: Alanna until Retcon by Mark Waid in his JLA run with her being in coma after giving birth to their daughter.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Zeta Beam
  • Genius Loci: Adam once fought Yggardis, a sentient planet that stole other lifeforms to populate itself, which then died within 24 hours.
  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: The Rannians are further along than Earth humans (no appendix, no hair except on the head), leading to the "ape" epithet for Adam in the Alan Moore comics.
  • Guile Hero: As fits a DC Comics hero of the Silver Age, Adam mostly defeated the menaces he encountered with science and trickery.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Aleea Strange is half-Rannite and half-Human.
  • Happily Married: Adam and Alanna soon became betrothed later in the comics.
  • Hard Light: For a while during Infinite Crisis and its lead up stories, Adam would utilize some new ordinance comprising of which created by his father-in-law Sardeth to better aid him in fierce battle.
  • Human Aliens: The Rannians. As typical of DC, no explanation for this was ever given. Though Young Justice (2010) made them a little more alien.
  • Inconvenient Summons: Often happened at the end of many stories: just when the crisis in question is over, Adam and Alanna barely have any personal time when the Zeta Beam would wear off and send him back to Earth.
  • Jet Pack: Adam Strange has one of these.
  • Meaningful Name: Adam is the first human on Rann.
  • Mighty Whitey (In Space)
    • Adam used Rannian technology to fight his enemies. Why couldn't they do likewise? Because they're not as well-suited to heroics and violence as Earth people.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Alanna (subverted in that Sardath isn't mad, in most versions of the character.)
  • Monster of the Week: The oddest variety this side of Toku shows. (Example: a giant flying magnifying lens.)
  • Not Quite Dead: Basically how Alanna is brought back to life after her apparent death in childbirth; Adam explicitly notes later that she was declared dead by a human doctor who was inexperienced with Raanian physiology, giving her father hope that some alien civilisation would be able to bring her back to 'life'.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: When the telepathic En'Tarans tried to acquire zeta beam technology in exchange for his resurrected wife Alanna, Adam was able to use a mentaliser headband to project insane thoughts and give the impression that Alanna's return had driven him mad, coming up with a complex plan to drive the En'Tarans away while disguising it as a mental breakdown.