Saturday, December 17, 2011

CBR DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space


This one shot was done for a very specific reason.
In 2004 a new line of DC Comics Presents were published, each celebrating the legacy of Julius Schwartz who died recently. Julie Schwartz had been one of the forces behind the DC since decades, and had also been one of DC's best editor-in-chief.
As a tribute to the big man he was, DC had a group of artists and writers come up with new stories the Schwartz-way. He used to commission covers from artist and have creative teams in on-going books improvise whole tales from it.
So to make the man proud, DC had some old covers of Batman, Green Lantern, The Atom and others redrawn and new stories made from scratch based on those.

Comic title: DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space
"Adam Strange in Crisis on 2 Worlds"
Art by J.H.Williams III
Story by Elliot S! Maggin
Colors by Jose Villarrubia
"Two Worlds"

Art by Jerry Ordway & Mark McKenna
Story by Grant Morrison
Colors by Snocone

Published by DC Comics
From 2004
Lineup Adam Strange
Format: Self-contained features in one-shot special.

Adam Strange - Earth professor captured by an alien teleporter one day, only to end up living a dangerous life of an adventurer on planet Rann.

This one-shot offers us two new tales of the Adam Strange!
The cover is a tribute to the cover of Mystery in Space #82 by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, redrawn for the occasion by the very talented Alex Ross.

Both features explore the character of Adam Strange, though under complete different lights.
It's a very unique "DC Comics Presents" compared to others, you see, Adam Strange was created by Schwartz. The authors composed two very special tales for occasion...

The first story takes Strange to the heart of Africa.
Adam Strange is there for an archaeological research, alongside his pal Ralph Dibny, the detective Elongated Man, and wife, Sue Dibny.

Long story short, a Zeta Beam incident goes bad, Adam misses his exit to his adopted planet Rann.
A missile ends up loose over the Earth, one that could eradicate millions, meanwhile Rann is on the verge of a dangerous attack by crazy anarchist-scientists.
Adam must choose which planet to save..only this time, he isn't alone as usual, and can count on the help of the Dibnys.

Simple, straightforward and fun story.
Very pulp-ysh. Old school.
This felt like a fun story of old, with a twist, gorgeous modern and complex artwork illustrating his exploits.
Easily the best of the two features.

The second story, is a darker, though almost retro, story.
With amazing art by a classic "Shazam!" artist nonetheless, and told by Grant Morrison nonetheless!

A bit more self-aware, and kinda meta to be honest frankly.
The story is told via Adam Strange's eye, who seems to have been captured by some military faction...
As he remembers his past adventures on Rann (in simplistic Silver Age-like comic book panels), he finds out he's been held captured by people on Earth who have replicated his alien technology for an attack on planet Rann.

The story can be sort of seen as a parody of modern gritty comics, which the pulp hero defeats through a convenient conclusion...
Or also from the opposite spectrum, as a more realistic interpretation making fun of the old comic books from yesterday...
It's all a bit confusing, very Morrison no doubt.

Overall, it's a great stand alone issue.
Featuring two well done, well scripted stories portraying Adam Strange as both a classic adventure hero and a vestige from the past.
He does make a great tribute to Mystery in Space comics.

But I'd like to point out it just doesn't do as much justice to the inspired cover as much as other DC Comics Presents special I've read.
Both stories don't really illustrate that scene from the cover actually happening in neither stories, though the first one by J.H.Williams III & Maggin is the closest thing you'll get to that.

The comic also features a great post-face, an obituary by Harlan Ellison I'd recommend any comic fan to give a read.

A nice comic book about Adam Strange, check it out.

I give it:

  2 / 3 Plastic-trophies!

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