Some say the Silver Age beings with Barry Allen, some say J’onn J’onzz. But we might even be able to got back a tiny bit further… to Captain Comet! Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Strange Adventures #9 awaits!
Writer: John Broome (as Edgar Ray Merritt)
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Bernard Sachs
Letterer: Pat Gordon
Editor: Whitney Ellsworth (Credited); Julius Schwartz (Actual)
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3500.00
Previously in Strange Adventures: From the debut of Superman in 1938, the Golden Age of Comics focused on many, MANY caped crusaders and mystery men. The end of WWII brought with it a shift into other genres, as detective, humor and western comics took the forefront, with the superheroes dwindling by the end of the 1940s. Flash Comics was cancelled, Green Lantern was cancelled and All-Star Comics, the home of comics’ first super-team, the Justice Society of America, transitioned to a western title. Comic historians argue about the precise beginning of the Silver Age of Comics, but the first salvo of Silver Age style storytelling came with the birth of young Adam Blake.
From a very young age, it was clear that something was special about little Adam, but nobody really though about it, or the strange convergence of his birth with a passing comet. But the older he got, the harder it was to ignore his brilliance.
From sports to music to academics, Adam excelled, even finding himself amazed by his feats of skill, strength and derring-do. After saving a girl’s life with telekinesis, Adam sought help from the vaunted brains of Professor Zackro, the wisest and smartest man he knew.
Zackro finally realized the truth, theorizing that Adam is accidentally a genetic sport, a specimen of what humanity will become in the future: In short, a mutant! As someone who grew up reading Carmine Infantino’s work in the pages of ‘Flash’, this book is very surprising on the art front, showing a much subtler line and a sleeker style of layouts than I expect from him. Some of that can be attributed to Bernard Sachs, who was one of Julie Schwartz’s secret weapons through the 1960s. When a group of mobsters target the Professor’s newest technological marvel (perfected with the help of Adam’s future brain and powers), Blake takes matters in his own hands!
Adam and the Professor agree that this is a sign, not only that his powers have great value for righting wrongs, but that he needs to keep them secret lest more criminals seek him out to take advantage of his 100,000 years-ahead-of-time abilities. When a mysterious menace from the stars arrives, Adam Blake is nowhere to be seen…
…but Captain Comet is ready for action! This story actually ends on a cliffhanger, leading directly in to #10, another unusual feature of this proto-Silver Age story. All in all, Strange Adventures #9 doesn’t read like a 70-year-old comic, as Broome’s story is clockwork solid, the Infantino/Sachs art is lovely and subtle, and, honestly, modern comics still haven’t gotten over the Silver Age, leaving this book with a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall. If you’ve ever wondered why DC keeps trying to make Captain Comet work, it’s because of the simple brilliance of this story and the fact that it can be seen as DC’s first real Silver Age-style hero.
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STRANGE ADVENTURES #9
It can be difficult to pinpoint a consensus on the start dates of many comic eras, but it's clear that this book is a harbinger of the best of Silver Age DC, and I'm here for it.