I had planned on writing some insightful and deep introduction to my brief write up for Adam Strange: Planet Heist, but I'm just not feeling very creative today. I think it might be the Benadryl I took this morning in an attempt to kill the running nose I'm fighting. Instead, I'll just drop right in and get down to it.
Planet Heist serves as a re-introduction of the Adam Strange character into the DC Universe. Adam is best described as a cross between Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Years ago Adam Strange was hit by the Zeta-Beam, a teleportation beam created by Professor Sardath on the far off planet of Rann. Once on Rann, Adam had huge adventures, married Sardath's daughter and had a child, and eventually became Rann's chief hero. The problem with the Zeta-beam technology was that after a while Adam would automatically be sent back to Earth. He would then have to wait for a new beam to grab him and send him to his adopted planet. The old Adam Strange stories were all big space opera / Saturday morning serial / pulp stories.
Writer Andy Diggle and artist Pascal Ferry re-envisioned the space pulp hero for modern times in an eight-part mini-series, that was collected into the Planet Heist trade paperback. The creative team left the key components of the Adam Strange history in place, but builds around them and tweaks the small details to give the character a more contemporary look and feel.
The basic premise of the story is this: Sardath has perfected the Zeta-beam tech so that the next time Adam jumps to Rann it will be for the last time. However, that final beam never comes and Adam is left wondering what has happened. He learns from Superman that Rann has apparently exploded when one of the three suns that the planet orbits went supernova, incinerating the planet. Adam can't believe it to be, and driven with the gut feeling that his wife and daughter are still alive, he sets out to really find out what happened to Rann.
I'm always a sucker for a big adventure movie or comic. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, the Phantom, old pulp heroes like The Shadow and Doc Savage - they're great, fun, escapist entertainment that transport you into a world other than your own where almost anything is possible. It someplace to go when you're tired of the world you're living in. What makes this type of entertainment even more enjoyable is if the creators take time to put some meat on the usually boiler-plate plot and characters. Diggle and Ferry deliver with the meat in Planet Heist, giving us plenty of characters who are more than clichés and with art that is certainly more than cookie cutter.
In particular I loved the artwork from Pascal Ferry. He certainly has a knack for envisioning wonderful alien worlds, species, and technology, and backs up these great designs with compelling visual storytelling that sucks you for a rollercoaster ride. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the luscious coloring of Dave McCaig in this project. Ferry might have the imagination to bring other worlds and people to life as a drawing, but McCaig's coloring and choice of palate makes this book even more glorious to look at. They are formable pair.
Diggle's story starts off fast and for the most part doesn't let up until the end of the book. He pushes Strange through all the ringers in his journey to find his family and Rann, and as the reader it is great to watch. There are some clunky scenes at the end which almost damage the whole book, but they weren't so bad that I couldn't forgive them because I had enjoyed the book so much up to this point. Overall I recommend the book for fans of old Sci-Fi serials or space adventures.