BHOC: DC SUPER-STARS #8

By this point, I was purchasing DC’s remaining all-reprint titles semi-religiously. That included DC SUPER-STARS, which for this eighth issue once again revisited the concept of space heroes, as it had been doing in every even-numbered issue. This wasn’t a reaction to the still-in-the-future Star Wars, as one might expect. Ad truth be told, I was only lukewarm on most of these guys. But I was definitely comfortable with routine, so I picked this issue up when I came across it.

The opening Adam Strange story was my favorite bit of the issue, illustrated by FLASH artist Carmine Infantino. This particular story was inked by Sid Greene, who took over inking Carmine’s work right around the size of the original art was reduced, which gave Carmine, like many of his peers, difficulty adjusting to. Other people liked the Infantino-Greene combination, but I must honestly say that I didn’t really care for it. By the look of this story, however, the originals were done twice-up, and so Infantino’s sweeping vistas and wide-open spaces are in full effect.

The story opens with Adam and Alanna on Rann, out exploring as they were wont to do. In typical fashion, danger befell them, and Adam worked out that the cause was a nearby rock formation whose radiations were making their own thoughts and fears come to life. In any other issue, this would have been the entire story, but not this time. On cue, Adam’s zeta-beam radiation wears off, but rather than being pulled back to Earth he finds himself aboard a mysterious space-arc, brought there by the alluring Brittis who desires to mate with the champion of Rann. Before that can happen, though, the last of Adam’s zeta-beam goes, and he finds himself back on Earth and awaiting his next trip back to Rann and Alanna.

A few days later, Adam materializes on Rann to discover that Brittis has taken over the entire planet. But to Alanna’s surprise, Adam throws himself into the space-siren’s arms, bewitched by her beauty. Having previously witnessed Adam save Alanna from disaster, Brittis wants him to do the same for her, to prove his love is real, and so she arranges a test for him–and should he fail, both he and Rann will be destroyed. But this is Adam Strange, and he comes through with flying colors by using his keen eye and ingenuity. So keen is Adam’s eye that he’s worked out that Brittis needs her special belt-buckle to survive on Rann, and he seizes it, gaining the upper hand on the siren and turning the tables on her, And in the aftermath, Adam and Alanna get engaged. As my first encounter with Adam had been in the story where he and Alanna had wed, it was kind of fun to witness this moment.

The second story in the issue was a reprint of the very first Space Ranger story. Both he and Adam Strange were originated at the same time, as the result of an editorial meeting at which DC’s editors were tasked with coming up with a pair of space heroes to capitalize on the sudden interest in space in the aftermath of the Sputnik launch: one set in the present, the other in the future. Space Ranger was the future here, and he debuted first, in the three issues of SHOWCASE immediately preceding Adam’s. But Space Ranger was a pretty thin character, very typical of DC’s output in that era, aimed at a very young audience. So he didn’t do a whole lot for me.

Space Ranger was really Rick Starr, son of millionaire Thaddeus Starr. Unbeknownst to the Old Man, Rick kept a secret base in a hollowed-out asteroid, known only to himself, his secretary Myra and his friend the shape-changing alien Cryll. From there, he was a futuristic Batman, solving outer space crimes and crossing laser guns with space pirates and the like. It was formulaic stuff, competently but unexcitingly rendered by workman Bob Brown. For some reason, nobody connected Space Ranger with Rick Starr despite the fact that Space Ranger’s helmet was transparent. Go figure.

The final story was another outing for the Star Rovers, a very clever series despite the fact that absolutely every story in it is exactly the same. The Rovers were Rick Purvis (another Rick–it will be a really popular name in the future, apparently), Karen Sorensen and Homer Glint, a trio of rival adventurers who would compete with one another to perform intergalactic feats, and whose accomplishments would wind up turning out to be the result of something one of the others did. Sid Greene handled all of the artwork on this series, and the fact that it was whimsical material served him better.

In this story’s twist on the formula, the three Star Rovers are individually summoned to get medals for their latest feats–feats they have no knowledge of. They recount their recent adventurers to one another, in which they had each been inspired by the skills of one of the others, and learn that something they did incidentally along the way amounted to an act of highest heroism. In the finale, the three Rovers exchange medals with one another, so that each deed’s inspiration got the credit for the success. 

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