It was perfect timing for DC Comics to reveal Strange Adventures at the end of SDCC 2019, since series creators Tom King and Mitch Gerads just won a bunch of Eisners for Mister Miracle. I remember reflecting, writing the news about the series reveal in the San Diego airport, and realizing what a new huge hit DC Comics had on its hands. Plus, King and Gerads were teaming up with Evan Shaner! What could the artist combo mean?
A more adult and complex approach to superheroes is something fans always want more of, so why not delve into a much-underused space explorer next? Issue #1 delivered everything wanted and more, but how does issue #2 stand up? Pretty darn good, though it is a bit nonchalant, especially after the three month gap since issue #1.
This issue opens with Mister Terrific entering a book store to pick Adam Strange’s book up to do a little research. His nano-bots chirp at him, constantly testing him, and Mister Terrific answers each question correctly and precisely. It’s a theme throughout the issue as King cuts between Mister Terrific testing himself and further revealing the adventures of Adam. Almost like a slow boil Fugitive, we get to see Mister Terrific hone his skills and “catch” Adam while Adam endures his own sufferings and adventures.
This cutting back and forth works well to keep Adam Strange’s adventures, and awful losses, moving forward while Mister Terrific’s perfectionist lifestyle builds to make you believe there’s no way Adam can get out of this. The entire issue essentially fills us in on key things and then ends catching up to the end of issue #1. That will likely frustrate some since we had to wait so long for issue #2 to come out, but it’s effective storytelling.
The issue also feels slightly slow thanks to the Mister Terrific check-ins. There are a lot of facts he dispenses, and a lot of questions his bots ask. So many, in fact, that I started to wonder how important the seemingly random facts and questions mattered to the plot. I can’t say they do, but there’s probably an Easter egg or two in there. At face value though, it gets a bit redundant and feels unnecessary. It hammers home the point that Mister Terrific is a perfectionist and incredible at details, but it seems like a few of these check-in moments were unnecessary.
The art continues to be an excellent feature of this series as Gerads and Shaner cut back and forth incredibly well. They’re both incredible artists in their own right (and likely could kill it on art if they did the whole book), but the “feature” I’m speaking to is how they jell so well together. It adds complexity and atmosphere to the juxtaposed scenes so well. Gerads is given Mister Terrific duties and he gives these scenes a darker tone and edge that forces you to question and absorb what we’re seeing. Shaner’s art focuses on the sci-fi adventures of Adam Strange and they’re bright, hopeful, and crushingly sad when things don’t quite go the way you’d expect.
This is a fascinating series thanks to the duo artistic team, the meditative approach to its characters, and the deeper meaning underlining everything. King is incredible at writing subversive stories that surprise and intrigue you later, when you think hard on what you’ve read. It’s a reading experience that is very rewarding.