By Andy Diggle, Pasqual Ferry & Dave McCaig (DC Comics)
ISBN: 9787-1-4012-0727-4 (TPB/Digital)
As the Silver Age began in 1956 – reintroducing superheroes to markets overflowing with cops and cowboys and cosmic invaders – try-out vehicle Showcase #17 (cover-dated November/December 1958) launched a true hero for the space-age in a feature entitled â€˜Adventures on Other Worldsâ€™.
An instant success, it debuted as the lead in Mystery in Space #53, beguiling and enthralling a fresh generation of thrill-starved, starry-eyed Â kids under the title Adam Strange.
Strange was an Terran archaeologist who, whilst fleeing from enraged tribesmen in Peru, jumped a 25ft chasm only to be hit by a stray teleport beam from a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri. He rematerialised on another world, filled with uncanny monsters and fabulous civilisations, and was rescued by a beautiful woman named Alanna.
Rann was a world of constant danger: non-stop peril for which brains, not brawn, were the best solution, but Strange was only able to stay on the atomic-war scarred planet for as long as it took the teleporting Zeta Beam radiation to dissipate, whence he would fade away to reappear on Earth until the next beam struck. He found true love with Alanna and unparalleled adventure, but the universe seemed determined to keep them apart.
After years of travail and turmoil Adam finally relocated permanently to Rann, but his new homeworld grew no less dangerousâ€¦
This smartly compelling rollercoaster ride (collecting an 8-issue miniseries acting as a prequel and introduction to the many story-strands forming the astoundingly ambitious Infinite Crisis crossover mega-event) finds the former academician on Earth to wrap up his affairs. However, when he is ready to depart, the Zeta beam fails to arriveâ€¦
After months of increasingly desperate research, his Justice League contacts reveal that Rann is gone: while he packed trinkets and underwear, a supernova wiped out everything he ever knew and lovedâ€¦
Desolate and off the rails, Strangeâ€™s life goes swiftly downhill – until he is attacked by alien bounty hunters. In the wake of the resultant destruction, he knows something is not kosher, and the only logical conclusion must be that Rann still existsâ€¦
This is a breakneck-paced science fiction conspiracy-mystery that finally revives the rational, intellectual hero fans havenâ€™t seen since the end of the Julie Schwartz days: an indomitable fighter who thinks things out as he roars through the universe, accused of destroying the very world he seeks, meeting – and usually pursued by – a legion of DCâ€™s outer space icons such as Vril Dox, bellicose Thanagarians, the Omega Men and paramilitary space cops the Dark Stars, as well as an unexpected surprise Ã¼ber-villainâ€¦
Deducing a greater threat to all reality, avoiding the guns of a billion bloodthirsty foes and the machinations of many malignant masterminds, Adam Strange fights to regain his family and world and in so doing unravels a plot to shake the very starsâ€¦
Bombast and hyperbole aside, Planet Heist is a superb thriller (regrettably still not available in digital form) heavily draped in DCâ€™s convoluted history and continuity, yet somehow still fresh and streamlined enough to entertain the most clueless neophyte and seasoned canon-feeder equally.
British writer Andy Diggle (Green Arrow: Year One, The Losers, Deadpool, Daredevil, Shadowland, James Bond 007, Star Wars) shines, blending astral wonderment with the gritty realism heâ€™s famed for. The forceful illustration of Spainâ€™s â€œPascalâ€ Ferry (Thor, Superman, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Tom Strong) – whose actual name Pasqual was apparently too tricky for English speakers – combines with colourist Dave McCaigâ€™s lush, painterly hues to make even the most fantastic moments utterly authentic. This brilliant tale only falters on the last page, and thatâ€™s because the solution leads inexorably to another book…
Gripping and fun, this rocket-paced riot is well worth the time and attention of every fan of fantastic fiction, but be warned: for final resolutions youâ€™ll need to read Rann-Thanagar War and Infinite Crisisâ€¦ so you might as well line them all up as well as the other Infinite Crisis prequel seriesâ€¦
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