Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Classics - Swamp Thing #57 and #58

   As Alan Moore's ground-breaking run on Swamp Thing neared its end, in 1986 he took the title character into an unusual direction - into deep space.

    That allowed him to revisit some underused characters and concepts, including one of my all-time favorites - Adam Strange.

   It was also a step away from the usual horror format and into science fiction (don't worry, there are still some horror elements in there).

   When the Swamp Thing is forced to abandon the Earth, he (it?) hitches a ride to the planet Rann with Adam Strange, who travels to that alien world via the Zeta Beam (sort of like the Star Trek Transporter Beam).

   That's when the real fun begins, because Moore actually creates an alien language for the residents of Rann (I remember painstakingly deciphering the language when I first read these issues) - and a mystery involving visitors from the planet Thanagar, the home of Hawkman.

   The duo of Hawks includes a man and a woman (she was dressed in a rather impractical costume, with only suspenders covering her, uh, assets), and they're obviously up to no good.

   What was also shocking - and the only real change from the original version of Strange - was the attitude of the Rann people toward the Earthman. He still plays the part of hero (every time he visits Rann he must face and defeat a different menace) - although he doesn't realize that the altered Swamp Thing isn't an attacking menace, so they fight in the best Marvel manner.

   But it's also one of the few Adam Strange stories that focused on his intelligence and battle smarts, as he finds himself fighting two foes - the Hawks - who are much more skilled at aerial combat - and he must solve the mystery behind their true motives.

   It's just a terrific story, and one of the last to feature "my" Adam Strange - the smart, clever hero who has no powers, so he must use his wits to defeat each opponent.

   Moore's run on this series is legendary for good reason - it sets a remarkable standard for storytelling and reinvention that has rarely been equalled.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


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