Hello, my friends. As we continue to make progress towards a better tomorrow, that vast frontier within our world and out amongst the stars can hold some grand wonders that’re waiting to be explored. However, there’s certain terrors that can also be hiding within the unknown shadows that’re ready to strike when we least expect it. No matter what, our unified bond with each other should be able to endure. On that note, I welcome you to a cosmic entry of…
While this particular series has brought some attention upon notable figures who’re either street-based, supernatural, war heroes, a bounty hunter, or even a child getting vast superpowers, these tales have been relegated to Earth. For this one, it’s time that we highlight a certain character who’ll find himself in an unusual situation out in the cosmos. As such, it’s time that we delve into a tale called…
Originally released on May 19, 2020, this short was packaged as a Blu-Ray bonus feature for “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War”. As always, you can click on the link in order to get my full thoughts about the DC Animated Movie Universe’s final outing. For those who’re staying put, let’s blast off and see what kind of intergalactic conflict awaits us within a tale that sees Butch Lukic coming up with the story upon the director’s chair while J.M. DeMatteis handles the screenplay.
We open in Deep Space as we focus in on Sector 24601. Over on a snowy planet in the Eden Corporation’s Mining Colony 75, the patrons are taking their time to relax and enjoy themselves over at the local bar. Within the establishment, a particular man has been drowning himself in alcohol while feebly attempting to work out some “intersection coordinates”. After downing another bottle, he calls out for more. However, the Bartender (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) sees that he’s had enough and tells him that he’s cut off until he gets his next payday. In a drunken rage, the man proceeds to throw the empty whisky bottle. After he evades it, the Bartender responds by grabbing his bat and approaching the patron. The drunken man attempts to punch him, but he misses before getting hit as he ends up collapsing onto the floor.
Afterwards, he gets tossed out of the bar and stumbles into another guy named Noris (voiced by Ray Chase) who tells him to watch where he’s going. Despite the rude remark, the man’s drunkenly decides to pick another fight. However, Noris easily backhands the guy onto the ground before he attempts to walk away. Suddenly, he gets attacked as the drunken man grabs his leg and bites him. From there, Noris frees himself and picks the guy up in order to properly beat him up.
Suddenly, he’s approached by the Foreman (voiced by Roger R. Cross) who gets told to either let the man go or be forced to contend with him. Not wanting to deal with his superior, Noris hands the drunken guy over before walking away. Afterwards, the man attempts to head out himself, but he ends up falling over in his drunken exhaustion. From there, he’s approached by a woman and her little girl who check to see if he’s OK. However, he simply mumbles “take me now”.
From there, we flashback onto the planet Rann as the peaceful setting gets rocked asunder by a barrage of missiles, leading to a full-scale invasion. Afterwards, the planet’s main hero named Adam Strange (voiced by Frank Delfino himself, Charlie Weber) flies in to observe the newly-formed destruction. After he reaches his home, he’s shocked to see his wife Alanna (voiced by Kimberly Brooks) lying bloodied and injured within the rubble. She tells him that this was caused by the Thanagarians as he tells his wife that things will be OK. However, she wearily exclaims that he won’t be able to save their home world this time. As he asks her what happened to their daughter Aleea, Alanna ends up succumbing to her grave injuries and passes on.
Unfortunately, Adam doesn’t have much time to grieve as he’s suddenly approached by a small group of Thanagarian warriors. As such, he takes to the skies and proceeds to fight back. While he easily shoots two of the opposing hawk soldiers out of existence, the other half manage to reach him and deal some bloody damage. While the female warrior does manage to strike Strange in the head and leave a scar upon his face, she accidentally threw off her teammate’s aim and winds up getting struck by his mace as a result.
However, he manages to disarm Adam before forcing him towards the ground. Fortunately, Strange is able to kick the hawk soldier and force him into a disarming landing. Afterwards, Strange proceeds to wrap his arm around the Thanagarian warrior. Despite receiving a vicious claw strike to his shoulder, Adam is able to snap his foe’s neck and defeat him before he flies up in a furious rage in order to engage the rest of Rann’s invaders.
We then shift back to the present as Diane and Meyra (both voiced by Kimberly Brooks) continue to check up on Strange. They’re then approached by the Foreman who tells them to “let him be”, to which Diane says that the man requires their help. Despite the Foreman saying that Adam is “beyond help”, he ultimately has his fellow co-workers carry Strange over to a shelter. After the group takes their leave, the Foreman exclaims how “there’s no room for the weak out here”. Diane takes his comment as an insult and says that maybe she and their daughter should possibly leave this place, to which he tells her that it wasn’t what he was saying. Meyra then reminds her father that Adam is still “a human being” before he takes off for work.
Later, a mining operation is in full swing as the crew has recently reached the deepest depths of their excavation. As one miner drills past a particular spot, their work is suddenly interrupted by a surprise burst which knocks them over. As they pick themselves up, they soon find themselves in the presence of a gigantic, bug-like alien. From there, it proceed to lash its tongue into a miner and kill him while the rest of the horde begin their rampage.
Over in the central hub, the Foreman contacts a miner and asks about the recent commotion. He learns about the emergence of previously-unseen creatures that’re rapidly making their way out of the mine and beginning their march towards the town. After the miner gets slaughtered by one of the aliens, the Foreman tells his fellow workers to grab anything they can use as weapons and meet up with him afterwards.
We then shift back into the flashback where the invasion has passed and Strange meets up with his deceased wife. He exclaims that their daughter Aleea is out there somewhere and he vows to find her. Suddenly, his jet pack alerts him as a Zeta Beam appears out of the sky and makes its way towards him. From there, he gets caught within its massive energy and gets teleported away from Rann.
From there, he finds himself on the snowy planet as the Zeta Beam vanishes. He takes off his helmet and his jet pack as he begs to get taken back to his home world. As the feeling of hopelessness suddenly consumes him, he considers taking his own life. Fortunately, he sees the holographic image of his daughter Aleea as he promises to find his way back to her. Afterwards, he’s suddenly approached by the Foreman within his massive construction vehicle.
Later on at the bar, Adam explains his situation as he also exclaims that he needs to do some calculations in order to learn where and when the Zeta Beam will reappear and thus, allow him to go home. After learning all of this, the Foreman offers him a job in the mine while he waits for his opportunity. However, Strange turns it down since he believes that he won’t be staying put on this planet for too long.
From there, Adam proceeds to do some serious research and calculations in order to discover the moment that the Zeta Beam will return. Unfortunately, a good amount of time goes by as he’s been unable to solve this problem. As a result, he’s been wasting himself away on alcohol, despite the holographic reminder of his baby girl.
We then return to the present as Strange sits on his bed while the Foreman & his fellow workers enter his living space. He tells Adam that the colony is in danger and that they need every able body that they can get. However, Strange is too exhausted to comply as the Foreman tells his men to acquire any device that they can use as weapons. Afterwards, they head out as the Foreman expresses his disappointment towards Adam.
Later, the Foreman has gathered a large group as they set up a barrier while the massive swarm of bug-like aliens approach their colony. Also, Diane and Meyra have taken shelter alongside the rest of the women & children.
From there, the aliens proceed to toss the opposing construction vehicles aside. Not also do they easily manage to slaughter several of the opposing workers through regular brute force, but their acidic spit is also able to make some destructive progress. While the Foreman does manage to take out one of the aliens, the overwhelming numbers forces his fellow allies to retreat.
Meanwhile, Strange is awoken by the commotion as he gets outside to witness the one-sided onslaught being carried out by the aliens. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then notices one of the hostile creatures attempting to break into the bar in order to attack Diane, Meyra and the rest of the women & children. As such, he returns to his living quarters in order to acquire his gear.
Despite the impossible situation that the Foreman and his dwindling allies find themselves in, Diane, Meyra and the women & children arm themselves with sticks and head outside to join them. Diane even tells her husband that they’re going to “face this together”. Just as the aliens regroup and prepare to attack them, they’re sudden rocked by an explosion as the workers and their families discover that it was Adam who intervened.
From there, Strange begins to hack and shoot away at the hostile creatures. Even when one of the aliens manages to grab onto his leg, he uses his jet pack to overwhelm the being before he shoots its tongue and slams his axe into its head.
As he continues to make quick work of the opposing aliens, one of those creatures manages to charge towards Diane and Meyra. The Foreman notices this and runs over to save his family, but he begins to realize that he won’t make it in time. Fortunately, Adam arrives in the nick of time as he takes the being out before flying the two ladies over to the safety of the rooftop. Afterwards, he flies off to rejoin the battle.
Meanwhile, another alien is attempting to attack the Foreman. Fortunately, Strange returns in time as he blasts the being and saves the family man. From there, he continues to make significant progress as he slices and shoots up several more of the hostile aliens.
Afterwards, he brings the fight to an end as he preps a trio of powerful grenades and wipes out the remaining creatures in a small series of explosions. From there, the surviving colonists remerge as they express their stunned amazement while Diane & Meyra silent approve of his heroic handiwork.
Later, the colonists are preparing to head out. However, Adam tells the Foreman and his family that he won’t be joining them since he’s still waiting for the Zeta Beam to reemerge in order to finally go home. As such, the Foreman wishes him luck as they share a respective handshake before he takes off with his family alongside their fellow colonists.
Not too long afterwards, his jet pack alerts him as he’s surprised to find out that the Zeta Beam has returned. As such, the film ends with him reaching the vast ray as he looks forward to his ultimate return to Rann.
Now that this tale from the stars has been told, let’s briefly get into my character analysis and delve into my thoughts about out titular hero himself: Adam Strange. Needless to say, the emotional journey he finds himself in after everything that’s happened to him is quite a harrowing experience. Although we never see what his prosperous life on Rann was like, it’s more than likely that it was a mainly happy experience for him, complete with a wife and daughter. However, a lethal conflict rocked his happy life apart. After all, Rann and Thanagar have had some history of butting heads with each other over in the comics. Not to mention, the 2005 story arc “Rann-Thanagar War” was sparked when Superboy Prime physically pushed Rann into the Polaris System and placed in within proximity of Thanagar itself, which interfered with the latter’s orbit and caused some uneasy tension before a Thanagarian death cult called the “Cult of the Seven Devils” managed to ignite the vicious battle between the two planets. Getting back on track, losing his wife while his baby girl goes missing would be bad enough for any parent. However, the Zeta Beam (which ironically enough was the cause of him getting transported from Earth onto Rann in the first place) made things worse as he finds himself on a mining colony with hardly any hope of getting back home. Though he does attempt to figure out when it will show up again, he’s unable to crack the code. As such, he sinks to his lowest point. Now, he’s wasting away within his own drunken stupor without any way of returning to Rann and barely a pulse of inspirational drive left. Thankfully, his time on this mining colony has presented him with the Foreman, who’s also a family man in his own right and represents a stability that Adam used to have. Meanwhile, Diane and Meyra serves as the family life that grounds the man of their household, while Aleea is all that he has left of that precious world that he’s been swiped from. Both of those elements give him something to live for since protecting the Foreman’s family as well as the workers and their loved ones reinvigorates his heroic code and gives him the proper motivation to preserve the harmonious bonds at risk, while his daughter is a wondrous being that he created for himself within his otherworldly life. After all, he was most likely able to balance himself back on Rann as a hero to the people and a family man towards his loved ones. Because he’s ultimately able to pull himself out of his slump and save the surviving families from the extra-terrestrial terror from beneath the planet, he’s ultimately rewarded for answering the call and gets to return to his home planet in order to search for his girl (even if the ending is a bit convenient given the short runtime). For the most part, Charlie Weber mainly turns in a nice performance as our titular character. While I would’ve wanted him to have shown a bit more emotional range during Strange’s time on Rann and when he initially arrives on the mining colony (mainly due to the emotional shock that those moments would bring out of anyone), he still managed to deliver his part on an effective level. He came through in emoting Adam’s ultimate climb from his own rock-bottom funk to revived confidence within himself towards others. As such, he was still good throughout and came through with bringing this somewhat obscure figure to life upon our small animated screens.
The idea of family value seems to be the most prominent theme within this tale. After all, Strange lost his kin and nearly fell apart through forces that were beyond his control, while the miners still have their loved ones, yet are in danger due to the presence of savage beings. It’s through these tight-knit bonds that they’re able to help each other within the darkest of situations. For Adam, the workers and their kin serve as the adopted family that he’s taken for granted since he’s wrapped up with trying to get back home in order to search for his daughter. If not for the key moment where the Foreman, Diane and Meyra showed certain levels of concerned compassion for him during his time of absolute drunkenness, then who knows if he would’ve been able to turn himself around once the hostile aliens showed up. In the end, that particular theme seems to have the right amount of presence for this narrative, since it’s neither blatantly obvious nor is it buried into the background and barely noticeable. In terms of the animation, it’s still very fluent throughout. The movements for our hero, the otherworldly humans, the Thanagarians and the hostile aliens felt as natural as they could be. Not to mention, they were bolstered by a good color balance, ranging from the bright (though ultimately war-torn) Rann to the muted and snowy mining colony. The only minor flub that I discovered was when Strange was biting Noris’ leg, since his facial scar disappears for that one moment before returning in the next shot. As far as action goes, there’s mainly two major set pieces: the Thanagarian invasion of Rann and the final battle against the bug-like aliens. Both are blood-filled, brutal and vicious, especially with some of the miners getting their guts ripped out, which makes sense when you remember that this was packaged with an R-Rated flick. Fortunately, the violence does serve a purpose for the story. The former shows the beginning of Adam’s personal descent towards near-hopelessness, while the latter serves as an impossible odd for the miners until Strange comes out of his drunken slump with renewed motivation. Even though this story is ultimately not for children, the conflicts depicted here do leave enough of an impact upon its intended audience to help make this tale feel very effective. Finally, the narrative’s pacing does move at a decent clip. The opening moments does offer an initial confusion to the audience as to how things got like this, but things start to pick up once the incident on Rann plays out. From there, things really get moving once the aliens are brought in and the reason for how our hero wound up in his position come to a head. As for the hostile creatures, there serve their purpose as an ultimate adversary. While they’re ultimately very basic despite their overpowering strength, it still works for this tale and avoids the pitfalls that would’ve fallen upon this creative team had they used a more prominent foe without properly developing them. All-in-all, it mainly works for the short story that we have here.
Overall, this is a cosmic clash brimming with confidence. With a sturdy voice cast, decent pacing and violence that’s both vicious & purposeful, this entry is a familiar tale of a hero who rises from his personal ashes. For the most part, this story is handled really well and should make for an enjoyable watch amongst the mature audiences. While it ultimately lacks a certain exciting punch that’s necessary for an outer space venture, it makes up for it with a humbling human story that ultimately sees flawed, yet good people coming together to face impossible odds. In the end, this is still a well-made entry that’s pretty solid and ultimately worth watching. While it’s mostly too rough for younger comic book/superhero fans, this is ultimately a tale that’s worth excavating.
Next Time: Not only are we allowing some familiar faces to take this stage, but we’ve revisiting a previous tale within the main line of animated flicks. For this one however, it’s more of a feature-length, expanded prequel and it’s a winding narrative with several key forks in its road. As such, we’ll be off to Gotham as the Dark Knight deals with a scheme that puts a particular sidekick in grave danger. The decisions will be in our hands as we take the perilous plunge into “Batman: Death In The Family”.
Adam Strange (created by Julius Schwartz & Murphy Anderson) is owned by DC Comics.