The plot thickens this week in Strange Adventures #4, which weaves Mr. Terrific’s investigation of Adam Strange together with Strange attempting to keep tabs on the investigation itself. There’s a big secret being hidden and the way Adam is acting, it’ll literally end Adam’s career as a hero if it gets out. In this fourth issue, the political intrigue of key players is raised up as we gather new intel on Adam’s wife, stepfather, and more.
Similar to Strange Adventures #3, this issue is plotted well, cutting between scenes to expand and shrink the drama. A lot of what makes this issue work (and the series as a whole for that matter) is subverted context you can only gather underneath what we’re actually seeing. From Adam’s desperation to get off Earth, to his wife’s manipulative nature, to heroes reacting to Adam and holding back their true thoughts, there is a lot to think about on every page. That makes the book an actively engrossing read because you’re trying to piece together what is really going on.
The art continues to be a driving force for all that subversion. From facial expressions that give us a tell, to the cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor of Mr. Terrific, there is so much on the page even when characters are sitting at a bar. For example, Doc Shaner has most of the superhero rendering duties this issue and in both cases, he’s rendered Hal Jordan and Superman in godlike idealized visages. It’s a harsh contrast from the much more gritty realism when Mitch Gerads takes over in flashbacks. This helps set the stage for interpretations of heroism and how there’s funny business at work going on too.
Possibly my only gripe is the use of Superman and Green Lantern in the issue, as they both serve to show Adam’s desperation equally. Did we need both? I’d argue probably not, or maybe they could have been merged.
Speaking of Mr. Terrific, he’s an impressive character in this issue and the series. His sci-fi tech is perfectly strange and weird, helping to convey the impossible to understand science he’s capable of. More than once he outsmarts even the most advanced aliens in this book and he continues to show a sense of courage and purpose that’s unrivaled.
It’s beginning to become clear his purpose in the book isn’t just to investigate Adam, but serve as a juxtaposition comparatively with Adam Strange. On the one hand, we have Adam’s shiny, public, false persona and on the other, we have the gritty and impressive Mr. Terrific doing the work. There seems to be a thread to understand about these science heroes being incredibly different. In that difference lies truth likely to be further examined as the series goes on.
Once again, this comic continues to be an interesting and complex read. Strange Adventures stands out as the most intellectually stimulating comic of the year.
You can order Strange Adventures digitally today.