Created by Gardner Fox, Ed Hamilton & Mike Sekowsky
Written by Aaron Severson
NAME + ALIASES:
Janice Strange (sister), Todd Strange (brother, deceased), Alanna (wife), Aleea (daughter), Sardath (father-in-law), and Bantteir (mother-in-law)
Justice League of America, Seven Soldiers of Victory
Showcase #17 (Nov./Dec. 1958)
Introduced in three issues of Showcase comics in 1958–59, Adam Strange was the preeminent space hero of DC's Silver Age. Clearly inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter, Warlord of Mars, and borrowing elements of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Strange is an Earth-born adventurer transported to an alien world by the interstellar "Zeta-Beam."
His feature in Mystery in Space ran for over five years and ended in 1965, but Rann's "champion of champions" remained a frequent guest star in the DCU. With DC's "New 52" reboot in 2011, Adam Strange was reintroduced in Justice League United #0 (June 2014).
Champion of Rann
While searching for the lost Inca city of Caramanga in the Peruvian Andes, American archaeologist Adam Strange was struck by a mysterious Zeta-Beam and transported to the planet Rann, the third planet in the Alpha Centauri system. There, Adam met the Zeta-Beam's creator, Sardath, chief scientist of Rann's capital city of Ranagar, and Sardath's beautiful daughter, Alanna, with whom Adam soon fell in love.
Rann was still recovering from a devastating nuclear war a thousand years earlier, which left even Ranagar ill-equipped to defend itself from alien menaces or threats from the planet's other rival city-states. (Showcase #17) It also left many Rannians sterile. Sardath originally told Adam that the Zeta-Beam had been intended to attract the attention of other intelligent life, not to teleport people across space, but he later admitted that his real goal was to find other biologically compatible species to revive Rann's gene pool. (Adam Strange v.1 #1–2)
Although Adam could only stay on Rann a few days at a time before the Zeta-Beam radiation would wear off and send him back to Earth, he quickly established himself as Rann's planetary protector. He stopped a host of alien foes, including the Tornado Tyrant, Ulthoon (Mystery in Space #61), who later became the Red Tornado; the Vantors (#63, 78); the Dust Devils of Rhythar (#68, 70, 84); the Arvese (#77); and the space villain Kanjar Ro. (#75) Adam also defeated native Rannian menaces like the power-hungry Kaskor (#68); the evil scientist Mortan (#62, 80, 91); and Alva Xar, a prewar tyrant recently emerged from suspended animation. (#81)
Adam's ingenuity and heroism against Kanjar Ro led the Flash to nominated him for membership in the Justice League of America. (Justice League of America #4) Adam later helped the JLA battle the cosmic vampire Starbreaker (#96) and was invited to their gala 100th meeting, although he was unable to attend. (#100)
Sardath tried for years to refine the Zeta-Beam to enable Adam to settle on Rann permanently, albeit with mixed results. For a time, Adam was unable to safely remain on Rann for extended periods (Mystery in Space #75), but when Sardath reversed that condition, it left Adam unable to safely return to Earth. (Hawkman v.1 #18) During this time, Adam married Alanna, intending to retire from his heroic career. (Justice League of America #120–121) Sometime later, however, residual Zeta-Beam radiation transported Adam to the 73rd century, where he briefly became a menace until he was rescued by the JLA. The entire affair turned out to be a plot by Kanjar Ro, who had impersonated that era's Green Lantern in hopes of trapping the Justice League in limbo. (#138–139)
DC has published a number of "retro" Adam Strange stories that were set during his Silver Age career, including: Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #1 (1998); Silver Age: Showcase #1 (2000); DCU: Legacies #5 (2010); and DC Retroactive: JLA - The '70s (2011). It's questionable whether any of those stories can be considered part of regular continuity.
In 2009, Paul Pope's "Strange Adventures" strip in Wednesday Comics presented a different version of Adam Strange and Rann, intended to evoke more of the fantasy flavor of Burroughs' "John Carter" stories. That iteration is clearly not part of regular DC continuity.
The First Rann-Thanagar War
Around that time, the space villain Hyathis of Alstair, a longtime rival of Kanjar Ro's, escaped from where the JLA had left her imprisoned (Justice League of America #3) and took over the planet Thanagar, then suffering the effects of the Equalizing Plague. (#117, 119) Hyathis cured the plague in exchange for the Thanagarians accepting her as their absolute ruler.
Meanwhile, Kanjar Ro allied himself with several of Adam Strange's old enemies and conquered the planet Rann. Eager to avenge herself on Kanjar Ro for having betrayed her years earlier, Hyathis and Thanagar went to war with Rann, while Adam Strange, Sardath, and their allies mounted a desperate resistance effort against both villains. They eventually managed to defeat Kanjar Ro and end the war, but Hyathis remained in power on Thanagar for some time afterward. (Showcase #101–103)
Kanjar Ro's defeat triggered a prolonged civil war on Rann as various enemies of Ranagar attempted to seize control of the planet. (DC Comics Presents #3, World's Finest Comics #263, Green Lantern v.2 #132–144) Adam eventually restored peace after defeating and once again imprisoning Kaskor (Green Lantern v.2 #135) and later Alva Xar. (#144) Along the way, Kaskor's molecular disruptor inadvertently reversed the condition that had made Adam unable to safely return to Earth, causing him to again return to Earth automatically after each Zeta-Beam dissipated. (#135)
Shortly after the great Crisis, Adam Strange once more clashed with soldiers of Thanagar, who were attempting to coerce Sardath into giving them Zeta-Beam technology, and met the Swamp Thing, who used his powers in an attempt to revive Rann's dying ecosystem. Adam also learned Alanna was pregnant. (Swamp Thing v.2 #57–58)
When the Dominion organized its invasion of Earth, Adam Strange surrendered himself to the alien alliance as a goodwill gesture, allowing Rann to remain neutral. Adam was imprisoned in the alien Starlag, but returned to Earth when his Zeta-Beam wore off. He was almost immediately recaptured by the Khunds (Invasion! #1), only to be rescued hours later by Firestorm, Firehawk, and Starman IV. (Starman v.1 #5)
Although Adam had saved the people of Rann countless times, not all Rannians welcomed his presence, seeing him as a primitive barbarian and even blaming him for the many threats their world had faced. At times, he faced hostility, public protests (Mystery in Space #82), and even an attempt to frame him for murder. (Brave and the Bold #161) Alanna's pregnancy was greeted with considerable resentment in Ranagar. (Adam Strange v.1 #1)
Sardath eventually developed a new Mega-Zeta Beam intended to transport Adam to Rann permanently. Unfortunately, the beam's radiation left Adam temporarily deranged, leading him to attack and badly injure Sardath soon after arriving. Adam was forced to flee into the wilds, leaving very pregnant wife alone. With Sardath incapacitated, some of the clones of himself that he had created to staff Ranagar's Great Council went mad, attacking Alanna. The rival city-state of Zared took advantage of this chaos to launch a devastating attack on Ranagar, leaving thousands dead and Adam overwhelmed. (Adam Strange v.1 #2)
Still somewhat deranged from his injuries, Sardath launched Ranagar into orbit around Rann, escaping the attacking Zaredian forces, but Alanna apparently died while giving birth to her and Adam's daughter, Aleea. With the help of Alanna's estranged mother, Bantteir, and a doctor from Earth, Evelyn Fox, Adam recommitted himself to rebuilding and protecting Ranagar. (Adam Strange v.1 #3)
Some time later, Ranagar, still in orbit, was attacked by the forces of Grayven, son of Darkseid. Adam's defense of the city was aided by several Darkstars and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, who was able to use his ring to safely return Ranagar to the surface of Rann. After the battle, four of the surviving Darkstars— Chaser Bron, Colos, Galius Zed, and Munchuk — decided to stay on Rann to aid in the rebuilding. (Green Lantern v.3 #74–75) They later helped Adam, Superboy, and the Ravers defeat Hyathis, who attempted to kidnap Aleea. (Superboy and the Ravers #3–4)
Throughout this time, Sardath had remained convinced that there was still some way to revive Alanna. He persuaded the alien En'tarans to restore his daughter to life, but they followed with conquering Rann. Adam Strange pretended to cooperate with the En'tarans, feigning derangement, and brought the JLA to Rann, where he enlisted them in rebuilding the planet. With the JLA's help, Adam defeated the En'tarans and drove them away from Rann, albeit at the expense of forcing him to once more travel back and forth from Earth via Zeta-Beam. (JLA #20–21)
Now reunited (albeit intermittently) with Alanna, Adam continued his efforts to keep Rann safe. He and Sardath even attempted to organize an interstellar alliance that they hoped would one day become the basis of a United Planets organization; their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. (Starman v.2 #52–53) During that effort, Adam met and befriended Jack Knight (Starman VII). Adam later helped Jack save Opal City from the Mist with the aid of Rannian soldiers (#69–72) and then attended the funeral of Jack’s father, the original Starman. (#73)
Ranagar was again devastated, this time by Rannian citizens driven mad by Oblivion, an enemy of Kyle Rayner's who manipulated the minds of the people of Rann. (Green Lantern: Circle of Fire) Shortly afterward, Adam and Alanna suffered a visit from Impulse (Bart Allen), whose well-meaning efforts did Ranagar almost as much harm as good. (Impulse #68–69)
Back on Earth, Adam was puzzled to find that the Zeta-Beam no longer appeared on schedule. He subsequently discovered, to his horror, that the entire Alpha Centauri system had been destroyed by supernova. (Adam Strange v.2 #1–2) Adam was arrested by a Thanagarian officer named Valkyr and forced to stand trial on Thanagar for alleged complicity in the destruction of his adoptive world. (#3) Valkyr allowed him to escape, after which Adam and the Omega Men encountered the last surviving clone of Sardath and learned that Rann had not been destroyed after all. (#4–6)
Valkyr was part of a religious cult on Thanagar worshipping a malevolent entity called "Lord Luciphage" — actually the JLA's old enemy Starbreaker, left disembodied after an attack on the planet Almerac some time earlier. (Justice League America #63–64) Starbreaker had learned that Sardath had invented a much more powerful version of the Zeta-Beam, the Omega Beam, which the cosmic vampire hoped to use to consume the entire universe. Realizing the threat, Sardath had used the Omega Beam to transport the Alpha Centauri system to a dead parallel universe, substituting a dying red giant from the Hydra Nebula to make it appear that Rann had been destroyed. (Adam Strange v.2 #7)
Adam, Vril Dox's L.E.G.I.O.N., and Rann's remaining Darkstars managed to drain Starbreaker's power, although the Darkstars were killed in the battle. Alanna killed Valkyr and Sardath used the Omega Beam to return the Alpha Centauri system to normal space. Unfortunately, Rann and its three suns reappeared in Polaris System, near the planet Thanagar, which considered their arrival an act of war. The Omega Beam device was destroyed by Valkyr's final grenade, leaving the planet Rann stranded in Thanagarian space. (#8)
At the time, it seemed that the appearance of Rann had thrown Thanagar toward Polaris, burning away Thanagar's atmosphere and rendering the planet uninhabitable. Sardath later discovered that Thanagar had actually been pushed into its central star by Superboy Prime, but he and Adam were unable to convince the Thanagarians of the truth. (Rann-Thanagar War: Infinite Crisis Special)
The Second Rann-Thanagar War
The devastation of Thanagar led to a bitter war between the surviving Thanagarian people and Rann and caused the awakening of Onimar Synn, one of Thanagar's Seven Devils. Komand'r (Blackfire) of Tamaran also entered the war on Thanagar's side, hoping to secure a new homeworld for her people. Onimar Synn attempted to seize control of Rann's Zeta Beam technology to conquer the universe, but Adam and his allies, including Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Captain Comet, and members of the Green Lantern Corps and Omega Men, finally succeeded in defeating the soul-devouring demon and Zeta-Beaming his essence across the galaxy in seven pieces. (Rann-Thanagar War #1–6) Unfortunately, this was not enough to bring lasting peace between Thanagar and Rann (Hawkman v.4 #47–49), nor was the cosmic crisis that followed, although the destructive waves of cosmic energy sweeping the sector resulted in a tenuous ceasefire. (Rann-Thanagar War: Infinite Crisis Special, Infinite Crisis #1–7)
During the "Infinite Crisis," Adam was blinded, losing both eyes, and then was stranded by a malfunctioning Zeta-Beam on a distant planet along with Starfire and Animal Man. Weeks later, they were able to get a derelict Thanagarian ship spaceworthy using the stolen axe of Devilance the Pursuer as a power source. The trio was unable to get far without a faster-than-light drive, but encountered Lobo, who by this time had become archbishop of the Church of the Triple Fish-God and possessor of the Emerald Eye of Ekron. With Lobo's help, they clashed with the hordes of Lady Styx, a genocidal alien demigoddess, and eventually landed on the planetary Green Lantern Mogo. The Green Lantern Corps returned Adam to Rann, where Sardath was able to replace Adam's missing eyes with new ones cloned from his daughter, Aleea. (52)
In Adam's absence, Rann replaced him as planetary protector with another Earthman, Steven Hazard, a.k.a. Champ, an American film actor and abrasive lunatic. Rann's situation grew worse when the planet was infected by Lady Styx, transforming most Rannians into fanatical followers of the malevolent demigoddess and ramping up their existing xenophobia to violent new extremes. Starfire eventually managed to break Lady Styx's hold on the minds of Rann and Adam's status as planetary protector was restored. He also became Rann's supreme military commander. (Countdown to Adventure #1–8)
Rann's uneasy truce with Thanagar was soon broken when the warriors of Thanagar were controlled by Synnar the Demiurge. Synnar was seemingly destroyed in a clash with the Weird, but in the process, Rann was rendered uninhabitable. Shortly before the planet's destruction, Sardath transported most of the surviving population to Throneworld, whose people had been wiped out by Synnar. Prince Gavyn agreed to accept the survivors of Rann, renaming Throneworld as New Rann. Adam and Sardath decided to allow the galaxy to believe the people of Rann had been wiped out, fearing new attacks from Thanagar and others. (Rann-Thanagar Holy War #1–8) Shortly afterward, Adam and Alanna destroyed the remains of Old Rann's major cities with nuclear weapons to prevent others from salvaging their technology. (Strange Adventures v.2 #1)
Months later, Adam Strange made a deal with Vril Dox to restore Old Rann to habitable condition. Dox and Sardath transported the planet from Polaris to the Vegan System and the former orbit of the planet Tamaran. After Old Rann was successfully terraformed, the people of Rann returned from Throneworld. They were joined by the survivors of Tamaran, who settled in uninhabited regions of Rann's southern continent. Dox established a new L.E.G.I.O.N. headquarters in the rebuilt city of Ranagar and negotiated an end to Rann's war with Thanagar. (R.E.B.E.L.S. v.2 #15–17) Rann, Tamaran, and the L.E.G.I.O.N. later signed a mutual defense pact. (#28)
In the "Space Ranger" story in Mystery in Space #94 (Sept. 1964; set, according to Who’s Who, sometime in the 22nd Century), Space Ranger meets Adam Strange’s red-haired descendant, also named Adam, who works at the Rann Museum near Ranagar and eventually follows in his ancestor’s footsteps as defender of Rann. The future Adam shares a subsequent adventure with Space Ranger in Mystery in Space #98 (Mar. 1965). In those stories, Space Ranger notes, “History records that Adam Strange left Earth for good!” and that Adam’s diary, including an account of his exploits on Rann, is now on exhibit in the York Museum.
Another descendant of Adam and Alanna appeared in the Space Museum story in Strange Adventures #157 (Oct. 1963): Alan Strange, described as “a young Earth-archaeologist whose life-time ambition was to solve the riddle of a mysterious race which had lived on the planet Uralone of the star-sun Spica.” Alan also had a brother, not named in the story. The years in which Alan lived weren’t specified, but Who’s Who eventually confirmed that the period from which Space Museum stories were narrated was the 25th Century, so Alan’s adventure took place sometime before that era.
According to Mystery in Space #72 (Dec. 1961), Adam Strange’s adventures are still remembered on Rann 100,000 years after his time, although many Rannians of that era consider him to have been a myth.
Adam Strange has no superhuman abilities. He is a superb hand-to-hand combatant and highly skilled at aerial combat, using his Rannian jet pack.
When Sardath replaced Adam's damaged eyes, he attempted to use genetic enhancements to give Adam the ability to perceive "the entire electromagnetic spectrum." The treatments were apparently unsuccessful because this new ability was never mentioned again.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- DC Super-Stars of Space #2, 4, 6, 8 (reprinting Mystery in Space #88–91)
- Green Lantern v.3 #38–39, 74–75
- Hawkman v.1 #18–19
- JLA #20–21
- Justice League of America #96, 120–121, 138-139
- Rann-Thanagar War: Infinite Crisis Special
- R.E.B.E.L.S. v.2 #11–28
- Secret Origins v.2 #17
- Showcase #17-19, 101–103
- Starman v.2 #52–53, 62–63, 69–73
- Strange Adventures #222, 226
- Superboy and the Ravers #3–4
- Swamp Thing v.2 #57–58
- World's Finest Comics #262–264
- Mystery in Space #53–100, 102 (1959–65; #53–84 reprinted in Strange Adventures #217–244)
- Green Lantern v.2 #132–147 (1980–81)
- Adam Strange v.1, 3-issue limited series (1990); collected as Adam Strange: The Man of Two Worlds
- Adam Strange v.2, 8-issue limited series (2004–05)
- Rann-Thanagar War, 6-issue limited series (2005)
- Countdown to Adventure, 8-issue limited series (2007–08)
- Adam Strange Special (2008)
- Rann/Thanagar Holy War, 8-issue limited series (2008–09)
- Strange Adventures v.3, 8-issue limited series (2009)
» SEE ALSO: