First Published: August 2007
Contents: Showcase #17 (November-December 1958) to #19 (March-April 1959), Adam Strange stories from Mystery in Space #53 (August 1959) to #84 (June 1963)
Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, Carmine Infantino
Key First Appearances: Adam Strange, Rann, Alanna, Sardath, Tornado Tyrant, Dust Devil
Overview: Deep in the heart of the Peruvian jungle, archaeologist Adam Strange is struck by a Zeta-Beam, and transported 25 trillion miles across space to the planet Rann. There he meets the lovely Alanna and her father Sardath, and is immediately thrown into a crisis that threatens the planet. Adam Strange steps up to save the day, becoming the hero of the planet. But before he can collect any kind of reward, Adam Strange is teleported back to Earth as the Zeta-Beam wears off, and now must wait three weeks before he can intercept the next Zeta-Beam in order to return to Rann.
Each story follows a basic formula — Adam Strange rushes to a point in the southern hemisphere to intercept the Zeta-Beam, often having to avoid a last second obstacle; once on Rann, he immediately encounters a new danger that threatens his adopted planet, which he valiantly triumphs over; and then finds himself returning to Earth before he has a chance to spend time with Alanna.
As predictable as the story formula may be, these are fun adventures each month. Pure science-fiction from its peak of popularity in the 1950s. Borrowing equal parts of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Adam Strange becomes a hero using his knowledge of science to overcome a wide variety of alien races.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: There are numerous reasons why I should not like this book. I am not a huge fan of Carmine Infantino’s art style. I find the formulaic stories from this era too predictable. This is more a science-fiction book than a super-hero book. With all of that said, I really loved this Showcase. Adam Strange felt alive and full of energy. Gardner Fox builds a new universe of characters, and creates an ongoing continuity with the storyline, with past stories and characters coming back in later stories.
Footnotes: Adam Strange was the main feature in the Mystery in Space during this era, getting the cover and the lead story position each issue.
The character likeness of Sardath was modeled after DC editor Julie Schwartz, who took great pride in being used as a character in one of his books. Later on in life, Schwartz would issue an autobiography titled “Man of Two Worlds”, which is the tagline used with Adam Strange.
Showcase #17, #18, and #19 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Showcase Vol. 1.
Mystery in Space #75 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 1.
If you like this volume, try: the first space-travelling hero from Earth, with the John Carter, Warlord of Mars comic series from Marvel Comics published in the late 1970s. For those unfamiliar with John Carter, he was created in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Set in the years following the Civil War, Virginian John Carter found himself transported from Earth to Mars, where he attracts the hand of the princess Dejah Thoris while fighting the various warring tribes on Mars. Burroughs’ series of John Carter novels has been adapted in various media, from Big Little Books to motion pictures. My personal favorite adaption is the Marvel series, written primarily by Marv Wolfman and Chris Claremont, and with art by Gil Kane, Dave Cockrum, and Ernie Colon, among others. The entire series takes place between two paragraphs of Burroughs’ first novel A Princess of Mars. This series has been collected twice in recent years — Marvel released an Omnibus volume in 2012, and Dark Horse Comics released their black and white version of an Omnibus in 2011.