Brainiac On Banjo #043: Adam’s Not Strange

I see that our friends at DC Comics are bringing back Adam Strange again.

Yeah, I know. He’s pretty much always been around since his creation 61 years ago. But with DC’s Escheresque approach to continuity, it’s hard to know for sure. It was announced last week that the space hero with the amazing pedigree will return next year in a new Strange Adventures series, courtesy of the team that brought us last year’s award winning (and deservedly so) Mister Miracle series, Tom King and Mitch Gerads, with Doc Shaner joining in on the fun.

I am not complaining. Yes, Adam Strange has been one of my all-time favorite characters since I discovered his first appearance in Showcase while my mother was getting a prescription filled after my visit to my friendly neighborhood pediatrician. Yup, I was eight years old. Then again, when I’m on the clock these days, I still am. And I’ve been part of the braying chorus of King/Gerads Mister Miracle acolytes since their first issue, so if they did the next Post Toasties cereal box, I’d read it.

I admire talented comics writers and artists who boldly go where truly legendary talent had gone before. Oh, sure, if you’re working on Batman or Daredevil, you’re walking a path trod by so many giants you would be honored to follow in their footprints. This sort of applies to Adam Strange, but his grimoire is a lot less crowded.

Adam’s birth process was a bit unusual. Editorial Director Irwin Donenfeld wanted a new space-related hero, rockets and astronauts being all the rage at the time. He challenged two editors, Jack Schiff and Julius Schwartz, to come up with something magnificent for a try-out run in Showcase, and Jack reached out to Gardner Fox, Edmond Hamilton and Bob Brown and together they came up with Space Ranger, a decent but not spectacular character – in my opinion, of course.

Julie went to Murphy Anderson, who, at the time, was drawing Buck Rogers for the National Newspaper Syndicate. They came up with Adam Strange, whose costume most certainly was in the Buck Rogers tradition. Then Julie gave the assignment to writer Gardner Fox (who would win that contest either way) and artist Mike Sekowsky, as Murphy was busy doing Buck. Gil Kane did the covers.

Adam had three issues in order to prove his stuff while the Ranger had only two, but… I guess it was a tie. Neither series did well enough to earn its own title, but each did sufficiently well to grab the lead feature spot in two of DC’s science-fiction anthology titles. By this time Sekowsky was tied up with another new Schwartz/Fox project, a li’l moneymaker called The Justice League of America, so Julie drafted Carmine Infantino to handle the Zeta Beam king. Carmine kept Murphy’s and Mike’s designs while employing his stellar design and storytelling techniques. And us fanboys went nuts.

Seriously. If you run into an aging baby boomer at a DC Comics panel, it would be a bad idea to disparage Adam Strange. Given convention restrictions to bringing working armament to their shows, you won’t get zapped with a ray gun but we just might throw a non-working model at you.

After that, many of those same fanboys took over the medium and we snuck Adam Strange in wherever we could. Neal Adams did lots of swell covers, as did Joe Kubert. Alan Moore, Mark Waid, Pascal Ferry, Rich Bruning, Adam Kubert, and Andy Kubert were just a few of those who lit Adam’s jet pack in recent decades.

Now, Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Doc Shaner are stepping up to the plate. Following people like Murphy Anderson, Mike Sekowsky, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, Joe, Andy and Adam Kubert, Alan Moore, Mark Waid, Pascal Ferry, Rich Bruning and the rest brings new depth to the term “daunting.”

I certainly think they’re up for the task, but if they screw it up I’m keeping my plastic ray gun ready. Just in case.