Friday, May 13, 2005

ADAM STRANGE #8

This was probably my least favorite issue of the miniseries, but I'm not going to let the occasionally painful dialogue sour me on what has been a fun ride. Andy Diggle and Pascal Ferry have put together an old-school pulp fiction treat that stands up quite well without being even the slightest part of the PtIC.

Adam Strange started off as a sort of noir in the worst parts of Gotham, Our Hero unshaven and distraught in his grief over Rann's seeming destruction and getting into trouble with the local fuzz as he tries to investigate what nobody else but him believed possible -- that Rann survived. It ended up with interplanetary battles complete with all of the sci-fi grandeur Ferry could produce (and that's a lot; Ferry's art was a definite hightlight of this series). In between, we got cameoes famous and obscure -- including the brave and fierce last stand of the Darkstars -- and some plot twists that kept this from ever sliding into the predictable. In this post-Identity Crisis world, Rann's continued existence couldn't be taken for granted until Rann/Thanagar War was solicited.

Really, my only problem with this final issue was the clunky dialogue -- considering the space setting, it felt like George Lucas had stepped in and guest-authored a few pages. But despite the occasional full stops the dialogue caused, it didn't completely disrupt the momentum any more than did the fact that the final battle was spread over two issues and it took a page or two to get back up to speed once this last installment began. The space fight itself reminded me a bit of Black Hawk Down (the movie, not the book) with the furiousity of the fighting making the individuals characters blur together and the Darkstars standing in for the mortally brave Delta sergeants.

The post-fight action was true to its pulp roots, right down to Adam's inability to hit a dame and Alanna's lack of such qualms after "her man" got dissed. The whole planetary gravitation thing was saved from the silly by the fact that Valkyr's actions doomed Thanagar and the irony worked. All told, Adam Strange emerged out of this series as a far richer character than the odd dude who randomly materialized in DCU books wearing a funny uniform and usually begging for help on Rann's behalf.

So now that we've judged Adam Strange on its own merits and found it worthy, how did it stand up for its real purpose -- i.e., as a lead-in to the Rann/Thanagar War mini? Quite well, for reasons that I will partly keep in reserve until I get to talking about that title. Diggle and Ferry accomplished what had to be their primary goal, which was getting the more casual fan to care about Rann in general and Adam Strange and his family in particular. Some of us were interested at the first mention of Rann and Thanagar having it out, but we're in the most spare minority and tend toward the Hawk fetishists. But now, I think, there is a better appreciation for both sides. And that gives Dave Gibbons a leg up.

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