Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adam Strange

Poor Adam, fish out of water. Not only is Adam a stranger in a strange land when he makes the Zeta beam'd trip to Rann, but as a character he's really a creature of the scientifiction past, like John Carter, Buck Rogers, or Magnus, Robot Fighter. He represents a sort of jetpacked art deco future that never happened. All our science fiction heroes now live in cramped quarters and swear a lot. And if they find a robot, they don't punch'em, they fuck'em til their spines glow.

So can we fit Adam Strange into our brave new world?

Originally, Adam Strange was an archaeologist who while onsite at some dig in Peru gets zapped by a beam from space and whisked away to the planet Rann where he performs feats of daring do and woo. Now, I know a few archaeologists and while they may hardy folk from hunching over in a hot pit all day, they tend to be at least 4 fingers short of two-fisted individuals. So that job's out. Besides, archaeologist (like mercenary) is one of those over-used comic professions (seriously, there's a wikipedia page for everything) so if we can get away with not using it, so much the better.

What can we use instead? We need a job that allows for international travel, preferably in the southern hemisphere (zeta beams require line of site and you can only see Alpha Centauri in the south), that places more emphasis on adventure than research. I mean, if an archaeologist was transported to a distant world, wouldn't their first impulse be to study it, rather than bang its women? Priorities, I know, but that's why there are so few archaeologists.

And that's an Archaeologist Fact.

Luckily for Adam Strange, I watch way too much television and know that there is a job out there for him that fits the bill. It involves international travel, adventure, and teaches the skills needed to survive in sometimes hostile lands. Even better, it's a job where you could conceivably go missing for periods of time and people would think it normal.

The job I'm talking about is Basic Cable Survival Expert. Bear Grylls, Les Stroud, Dave and Cody, Myke Hawke (tee hee), the list goes on and on. So let's do that. Adam Strange, ex-commando, hosts the survival adventure program Strange Wilderness (shut up. it's my wife's favorite movie) on the Adventure Channel. I'm making him Australian because the two-fisted, I Know Best, bravado Strange exhibits comes off as imperialistic and jerky from an American while merely quaint from an Aussie. Not that it makes a huge difference - rest assured that Gambit-style gumbo-gumbo-m'chere "accents" are banned from the Drewniverse. Anyways, Strange travels the world showing how to survive in dire circumstances. Sometimes he's accompanied by a camera crew ("Bear Style"), sometimes he goes it alone ("Stroud Style"). One day while out on one of his solitary expeditions, he gets zapped by the zeta beam and whisked away to the planet Rann.

On Rann, Strange finds a highly advanced if somewhat stagnated society. I won't go as far as Alan Moore did to make them all sterile or whatever, but let's just say that there is a strong cultural disinterest in physical labor. You don't build things with your own two hands, you tell a robot what you want and then it directs other robots who build it. Rannians are not fat or lazy or anything - medical science has taken care of the former while the later is more of a 'been there, done that' type of ennui'd worldview. The Zeta Beam was only made because the Rannians were bored and the act of exploring the universe and meeting new peoples smacked of effort. Why not just build a device that can bring the rest of the galaxy to Rann?

So when Adam Strange, the first zeta beamer, shows up on Rann, the people are quite taken with him. Rannians shower him with gifts (active stuff they don't want, like jetpacks and space suits), and some of their more forward women throw themselves at him. He gets into scrapes and conflicts with some jealous factions, folks who don't like how his active behavior could change the status quo. In a way, his first trip to Rann is a lot like what he does on his TV show - even down to the point where some of his fights and encounters are actually staged for others' viewing pleasure. "Say, I wonder if that Strange fellow would do well fighting a robotic simiape?" "Good idea, old chap. I'll have Buildo bodge one up. Should it have laser eyes or fists?" "Laser fists, most certainly."

But all things must end, including the effects of the zeta beam. So Strange is given some coordinates of where to be on Earth at what times so that he may come back and visit and have more adventures for the people of Rann to enjoy. High fives all around, have a great summer, see you next year. Adam Strange embarks on a dual career as a reality show star on both Earth and Rann, right?

Not really. You see, you can't just be shooting beams into space and expect others not to notice. And in this case, one of those others is Brainiac. Oops.

Adam Strange's second visit to Rann does not go as well as the first. We open Issue #1 of Adam Strange (#22/52) with his arrival on a planet under attack by Brainiac. Rannian reliance on technology is a huge weakness here as many of their systems get infected by Brainiac's control protocols pretty quickly. The people of Rann literally do not know how to defend themselves from an attack on this scale and so turn to Adam Strange. It takes many zeta beam visits, but at the end of the story-arc, Strange manages to defeat Brainiac.

The victory is not without a cost, though, as it turns out that the zeta beam has not only been pulling Strange across the lightyears, but across time itself. It's like fifty years (or more?) in the past on Rann, so when Adam Strange gets all "that's how we do things on Earth, you damned tin can" he's actually telling Brainiac about humanity's existence. From there, it's just a simple matter of following the zeta beam's trajectory to bring one of Earth's biggest threats home (perhaps with a pit stop at Krypton, which is on the way). Strange won't find out about the time difference between Earth and Rann for a bit, maybe when a Green Lantern tells him he's seen old statues of Adam Strange all over the otherwise desolate planet Rann. "Yeah, that planet was abandoned years ago - nobody knows what happened to the population, though."

Still, that's a storyline for a different day. Following the defeat of Brainiac, Strange's adventures on Rann will involve trying to rebuild a now fractured society, prevent all an all out Rannian civil war, and dealing with some weird alien life that escaped Brainiac's ship when it crashed. "Adam, could you be a dear and do something about that sentient tornado while we rebuild our civilization? Cheerio."

And there's Adam Strange. As a character, he'll develop from a two-fisted, slightly roguish ne'er-do-well into an actual hero. Once he learns about the Fate of Rann, he'll go a little nutty, but hopefully that's just another problem that can be worked out with a jetpack and a fist full of energy beams. 

1 comment:

  1. I just cannot be Sam Worthington as this version of Adam Strange, what's especially appealing about that idea is it would be something of an inversion of his role in Avatar. Meaning rather than the aliens teaching him how to truly live, it's vice-versa.