Thursday, July 16, 2009

Read: Showcase #102

Issue: Showcase #102
Title: "Strange Adventures"
Published Date: Jul 1978
Generation: Silver Age Katar
Retcon Status: In Continuity

Summary: Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Adam Strange arrive at Rann in time to witness a tremendous space battle against a Thanagarian fleet.  Narrowly avoiding being shot down, Hawkman manages to touch down his ship in the wilderness outside of Ranagar -- losing the captive Shadow-Thief in the process.  No sooner do they land then are they attacked by native Rannians with rayguns which can turn their foes into water!  The battle is then joined by Adam's father-in-law Sardath and his band of Undergrounders, who managed to teleport the heroes and their ship away using modified Zeta Beam technology.  Sardath tells Adam that his wife Alanna has been missing since Adam went on his mission and no one knows if she is alive or not.

At the palace in Ranagar, we find that Alanna is alive, and taken before the "Grand Deleon" of Rann -- none other than Kanjar Ro!  After his last defeat at the hands of the Justice League, Ro reached out to various enemies of Rann and offered them an alliance so that together they would conquer the planet.  They succeeded, and now Ro is using his newfound power to make war against Thanagar.  Wanting to draw out Adam Strange, Ro makes an announcement that Alanna is going to be executed, prompting the heroes to attempt to rescue her.  Adam Strange wants to rush headlong into combat, but Hawkman advises him to hold his horses and make a plan first.

Appropriately, the rescue mission for Alanna goes according to plan, as each alien race the heroes run into is effectively countered by their own weakness.  Strange discovers Alanna imprisoned in a booby trapped tower, which Hawkman is able to smash his way into -- which sends Alanna and Strange falling after the explosion takes out his jetpack.  Hawkman swoops down, reactivating Strange's pack and saving Alanna.  With everyone free, the four heroes learn that the fight is not over yet, as Kanjar Ro has taken a fleet of ships to invade Thanagar.

Review: Continuing from the first installment, the first Rann-Thanagar War rages on, with all sorts of alien jokers thrown in the mix for good measure.  Harris' story is interesting, with lots of stuff going on at once (although, a pretty common Bronze Age trait in my experience), and his script has some interesting touches too.  For instance, several times this issue, Hawkman and Adam Strange become almost hostile towards one another -- the obvious result of having two headstrong Type A personalities in such a high-pressure situation.  Hawkman at one point tells Adam straight out to "shut up," which made me laugh.  Al Milgrom may not be Joe Kubert but he is darn good as a Hawkman artist.  And that Kubert cover is pretty swanky too!  All in all a very enjoyable Bronze Age romp which makes one want to immediately grab the next issue.

There is one confusing bit, dealing with how Thanagar was drawn into this conflict.  The last issue gave the impression that Thanagar was the race which conquered Rann, when in fact they attacked the planet only after Kanjar Ro conquered it.

Image: Showcase #102, 1978, Joe Kubert.

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