Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Strange Adventures #217

Strange Adventures #217 (On Sale: January 21, 1969) has a nice Adam Strange cover by Neal Adams. Deadman is gone and Adam Strange and Atomic Knights reprints have become the order of the day. Since this was my introduction to both series, it was all new to me.

We begin with the origin of Adam Strange, "Secret of the Eternal City," a reprint from Showcase #17 by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Frank Giacoia. While escaping from some Inca villagers, Adam Strange is struck by a Zeta Beam originating from the planet Rann. Originally designed for communications, the Zeta Beam has been altered by its long journey through space, and it teleports Adam Strange to Rann.

On a world 25 trillion miles from Earth, Adam meets Alanna, a woman and her scientist father, Sardath. Using their advanced technology they teach Adam their language. Adam then gets a tour of the planet from Alanna. Rann itself was more advanced than Earth, but a great war caused much technology to be lost, and a majority of its population has reverted to barbarism.

While exploring the city-state of Kamorak, Adam and Alanna come under attack from alien invaders searching for the element Vitatron. Alanna believes it exists in Samakand, a city which only appears once every 25 years. Adam and Alanna contact the scientists of Samakand and are able to lure the invaders there and trap them in the fourth dimension.

After the threat has passed, the Zeta radiation in Adam’s body wears off, and he is transported back to Earth. Having found a new home and new love on Rann, Adam calculates the next occurrence of the Zeta Beam which will once again return him to Rann.

Next is the origin of the Atomic Knights, "The Rise of the Atomic Knights" from Strange Adventures #117 by John Broome and Murphy Anderson. Gardner Grayle, a man who is statistically the average soldier, has survived World War III, which took place from October 9, 1986 to October 29, 1986 and lasted only 20 days. In the post-holocaust world, all plant and animal life has been destroyed. The only remaining food supplies are being hoarded by a tyrant called the Black Baron.

Grayle is attacked by looters trying to rob him. He escapes, then helps another man, Douglas Herald, fend off the attackers. Grayle and Herald discover a set of six medieval suits of armor that have become resistant to radiation. The two men decide to use the suits to attack the Baron's stronghold. They recruit three other men to join the fight, leaving the last suit of armor behind because it is too small.

The five men assault the Baron's stronghold wearing the armor which resists the tyrant's ray guns. The Baron nearly kills Grayle, but he is rescued by an unknown person wearing the sixth suit of armor. After the Baron is defeated, the sixth knight is revealed to be Marene, Herald's sister. The six knights agree to stay together to fight for justice in the post-apocalyptic world.

DC Comics Presents #57, the post-World War III reality within the Atomic Knights series is said to be a computer simulation run by the real Gardner Grayle. However, Hercules Unbound #10 links the Atomic Knights to Kamandi, Omac, and Hercules. Either the events depicted in the series happened outside the simulation or DC just has some really screwy continuity.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

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