Home > DC Comics > DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space #1

DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space #1

August 12, 2004

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: Crisis on 2 Worlds & Two Worlds

The Julius Schwartz tribute series continues with two new tales of Adam Strange!

Writer: Elliot S! Maggin & Grant Morrison
Pencils: J.H. Williams III & Jerry Ordway
Inks: J.H. Williams III & Mark McKenna
Colors: Jose Villarrubia & Sno Cone
Letters: Todd Klein & Rob Leigh
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Cover Art: Alex Ross (based on a cover by Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson)
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue marks the second week of the DC Comics Presents tribute to the late, great Julius Schwartz. In case you didn’t get the memo, DC decided to honor Schwartz by taking one of his classic tricks – hand a writer a crazy comic book cover and make them write a story to match it. DC is doing remakes of some of Julie’s classic covers, in this case Mystery in Space #82, a cover featuring one of my old favorites, the universe-traveling Adam Strange.

I’m not expecting any brilliant comics out of this game, but I’m expecting a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this week’s issue isn’t quite as entertaining as the Batman issue last week. The opening story, by Maggin with art by J.H. Williams III, stars Adam with special guest-stars Ralph and Sue Dibney (irony, thy name is Schwartz). The Zeta-Beam scheduled to whisk Adam off to Rann instead takes a young boy and a zebra. In the meantime, his alien technology has fallen into the wrong hands here on Earth. This is a decent, if not brilliant tale, but Williams’ gritty art style is terribly unsuited for the bright Strange and even brighter Elongated Man. He’s a good penciller, but he belongs on a darker tale and not a zany silver age pastiche.

In Grant Morrison’s story, Adam is captured by a group of guerrilla fighters planning to hijack the next Zeta Beam and invade Rann. They have found a way around the fact that only Adam’s unique cellular structure reacts with the Zeta Beams (but wait – didn’t the last story hinge on a kid and a zebra getting zapped? Oh well…), and they are armed to the teeth. The story has promise, but Morrison, as he sometimes does, gets way too experimental with it. He cuts from scenes of Adam on Rann to scenes of him chained up, meanwhile narrating the story with captions that barely relate to the scenes at all but instead just offer a glowing tribute to Julie Schwartz.

The artwork is much more appropriate in this second tale. I personally think Ordway’s pencils look the best when he does his own inks, but Mark McKenna does a good job. Sno Cone’s colors add to the story as well, employing a different color scheme for the Rann scenes and the Earth scenes, and coloring the captions in with classic four-color dots. It’s a nice look.

With any anthology series like this one, you’re going to have to expect hits and misses. Batman was a hit, and this one was a miss. A near miss, but a miss nonetheless. Still, the concept is sound and a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the rest of these specials.

Rating: 6/10

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