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Recap / Swamp Thing Volume 2 Issue 57 Mysteries In Space

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"Monsters. Always one kind or another: cactus man; bird man...ape man? Sometimes I forget [...] that I have an appendix and she doesn't; hair on my body where her people have none. Forget that however we dress [...] to them we're all monsters."
— Adam Strange

Somewhere in the Australian outback, Adam Strange works his way to the next location where the Zeta-Beam will manifest on earth, so that he can return to Rann. He is surprised to discover that in the three years since he has last been there, a shopping mall has been built over the coordinates for the beam. Finding that the exact spot is in a men's washroom stall, he forces an uncooperative man out of the way just in time.

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As the beam transports Adam, his consciousness collides with that of the Swamp Thing, whose own consciousness is travelling through the Green. The collision sets Adam off balance, and he crashes to Rann's surface painfully, rendering him delirious. Fortunately, his wife Alanna happens to be nearby, and she and her party load him into the back of their vehicle and take him back to Ranagar, the capital. In their hurry, the party accidentally leaves behind Adam's backpack.

Nearby, a small cactus grows into the form of the Swamp Thing. He discovers Adam's pack, noticing that it was made in Seattle. He is confused to find a jetpack inside the backpack. Spotting a footprint on the ground, he begins following the trail.

Back in Ranagar, chief scientist Sardath informs his daughter Alanna that Adam is doing better, and she rushes off to see him. After a brief embrace, she explains that her father is meeting with some Thanagarians, and the two of them head off to join him. The Thanagarians activate a translator, so that they can all understand each other, and then they inform Adam that they are there to aid Rann in ending the famine that has beset its people. In exchange, Sardath has agreed to give Thanagar information about Rann's technology, including the Zeta-Beam. Strange is suspicious of the Thanagarians' motivations, but they are interrupted by a messenger who warns that Ranagar is under attack by a monster made of cactus. Sardath asks that Adam look into it, and he obediently runs off to suit up and arm himself.

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Meanwhile, Swamp Thing attempts to ask the Rannians whether they come from Earth, and if any of them have heard of Seattle. The terrified citizens respond by firing their weapons on him. Casually, he sends the local foliage to deter their efforts.

Strange is frustrated that he has only just arrived on Rann and all he wants to do is make love to his wife. Even so, the Rannians demand that he act as their personal errand boy, and then mock him behind his back for being human. He is so annoyed and distracted by thoughts of Alanna that he doesn't bother to question the Swamp Thing, and simply opens fire. Swamp Thing retaliates by growing pods on his body which spew spines at Adam in defence. Angrily, Adam blasts Swamp Thing's head off, and then affixes his jetpack to the creature, sending him off into the stratosphere. His work done, Adam returns home. As he leaves, several citizens mock him behind his back.

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After finally enjoying intimacy with Alanna, Strange wanders out onto the balcony and happens to notice Sardath speaking with the Thanagarians. He can only make out the phrase "Zeta-Beam," but it is clear that Sardath regrets his decision to share the technology with them.

Elsewhere, Swamp Thing regrows his body and finds himself near a statue of Adam Strange, which indicates, in English, that he is an Earthman. He smiles and says "Seattle," realizing that Strange may be his ticket home.

Tropes

  • After the End / Desert Punk: Rann, as the result of a limited nuclear war, is a barren wasteland with worsening famine. Adam reflects that he hasn't seen a single child around; this suggests that the barrenness extends to the Rannians as well.
  • Conlang: Rannian, which Moore developed for this two-part story (previous Adam Strange tales being a straight instance of Aliens Speaking English), is mainly a relexification of English. The vocabulary is original, with some Indo-European linguistic influence and honorific suffixes patterned after Japanese ones. However, the grammar and syntax are—with the exception of dative pronouns and the occasional omission of the verb meaning "to be"—those of English. This means that although Moore provides neither subtitles nor a glossary, much of the Rannian dialogue is decipherable from the context, particularly when used more than once over an issue or two (for example, Ba onamao qu means "I love you"). Greg Plantamura has compiled a mostly-complete Rannian lexicon based mainly on contextual clues.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Thanagarians' offer to help Rann end its famine, in exchange for the secrets of the Zeta-Beam. Although the Thanagarian delegates, Keela Roo and Scira Ek, present an amiable image, Strange's suspicions, and Sardath's display of remorse following an argument with them, suggests that the deal is this trope.
  • Fantastic Racism: Despite all he's done for them in every visit to their planet, and despite the establishment's endorsement of him (in that chief scientist Sardath is his patron, his daughter Alanna is his wife, and there's a commemorative statue of him), many Rannians look down on Adam because he's not, technically, of their species. He reflects that they call him names such as "ape" and "throwback," and indeed one citizen is shown scratching his armpit and making ape noises in mockery of him.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Zeta-Beam.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Strange, in the midst of an inner monologue about the non-anthropoid creatures he's expected to fight, reflects that in the eyes of many Rannians, he's a monster too, in that he's physically not as "evolved" as they (see page quote).
  • Internal Homage: The issue title alludes to Mysteries in Space, the Silver Age series in which Strange starred after his debut in Showcase.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The Zeta-Beam.
  • Trigger Happy: Adam, in contrast to his usual Science Hero or Guile Hero characterization, is so irritated at the Swamp Thing "threat" having delayed his reunion lovemaking with Alanna that he simply goes in shooting.
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