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The Flash and Adam Strange
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Fred Hembeck

The Flash and Adam Strange
Uploaded June 25, 2000

Strange Adventures #217

Gee, that's a nice Neal Adams cover. Wouldn't it be nice to see a coffee table book or oversized TPB collecting all of his DC covers together? Sigh.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of super-heroes have day jobs as science geeks?

Check it out:

  • Flash (Barry Allen) - forensic scientist
  • Flash (Jay Garrick) - scientist
  • Adam Strange - archeologist
  • Swamp Thing - biochemist
  • Atom - physicist
  • Hourman - chemist

And so on.

(You think that's bad; you should see things on the Marvel side of the fence.)

Not that I'm complaining too loudly, of course. One of the perks of going to school for a degree in chemistry was the righteous belittling of people getting art history degrees (we felt that there was a slight disparity between the relative work involved).

Here's a quick origin re-cap, for those of you aren't reading my commentaries religiously.

The Flash is one of the most over-powered super-heroes ever to make an appearance, able to run at speeds surpassing the speed of light. If you listen closely, you can hear Einstein shaking his head sadly. Here's a "Flash Fact" for you: anything travelling over seven miles per second hits escape velocity (for this planet, at least), and ought to go flying off the surface of the planet into outer space. If this were a Realworlds comics, it'd be buh-bye for the Flashster.

The Flash is also dead now (this one, at least, the Barry Allen Flash), courtesy of Marv Wolfman and George Perez in their Crisis on Infinite Earths series some fifteen years ago. In typical boy scout fashion, he went out in a blaze of glory, sacrificing himself for the greater good. No wonder his sidekick suffered from an inferiority complex.

Adam Strange was an archeologist searching for the legendary city of Caramanga deep in the Andes mountains of Peru, when he, well, found it. This didn't go over well with the local Incas, and they tried to express their anger by introducing Adam to the business ends of assorted arrows and spears. Their attempts at conflict resolution and anger management fell to naught, when Adam leapt over a precipice and promptly vanished in a brilliant flash of light.

Hey, you don't suppose that, as an archeologist, Adam has a doctorate degree? Hmmm…Doctor Strange. Has a nice ring to it.

Anyway, after a moment of intense darkness and cold, Adam found himself in a tropical jungle, surrounded by plant species he didn't recognize and chased by a large dinosaur-like creature. Shortly after being rescued by a beautiful girl in a flying airship and being taken to an obviously non-Earth-like city, Adam finally began to get a clue. He was on a different world altogether!

He had been transported to the planet Rann by a 'zeta-beam', one of many that the beautiful girl's father had initiated to establish communications with Earth. After a brief adventure in which Adam saved Rann's culture and people from invaders from another planet (not bad for an archeologist - Indiana Jones, eat your heart out!), the zeta radiation in his body wore off, teleporting him back to Earth without even so much as a kiss goodbye.

This began several years' worth of planet-hopping adventures, both in solo stories and in appearances with various Justice League members and others. He's mostly been shown to be a pretty bright guy, solving problems with his brains rather than his ray-gun, Alan Moore's treatment of him notwithstanding.

There's one plot thread that I don't recall ever seeing resolved, however. At one point back in the 1970s, Adam's cross-planetary jaunts had left him living him permanently on the planet Rann, unable to set foot on the surface of Earth without dying. Obviously, that plot was either resolved or has been ignored ever since by a succession of DC writers. Can anyone provide an update?

- NP

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