Strange Adventures continues to live up to the hype, and given this is a direct follow-up from Mitch Gerads and Tom King’s Mister Miracle with the added magic of Doc Shaner, that’s saying something. The series has been slow, but deeply informative from a psychological perspective, and this week we delve into the mind of Adam Strange in more ways than one. He’s been absent from a few issues, but here he takes center stage. Is he an innocent hero, or a war-torn soldier? Well, why not both?
This issue blends a rather ruthless Adam Strange in the semi-present with a mind trip he had earlier in his superhero career against his will. One could surmise King is trying to show a man at war being put through the wringer and how that changes him later on. We see this hero do things heroes just don’t do. As the preview says, Batman makes a guest appearance and he serves as the ideal juxtaposed against Adam Strange who looks heroic and kind, but is anything but. To see him blow away an alien enemy comes as a shock in the opening pages and is ramped up to 11 later when we see another death with Batman nearby unable to do a thing.
This series continues to show the superhero as a soldier and how that changes the dynamic in how they act and also how they think. This is explored in a science fiction idea via a torture device Adam Strange goes through. It’s trippy, and an almost Grant Morrison style ride, but it’s quite clear the days Strange experiences in the device is a mind-altering ride. Further strengthening the awful nature of these experiences–where we see Adam being sent to strange worlds or being changed into non-humanoid things–is the torturer’s casual demeanor. He seems kind, friendly even, and that makes his torturing all the more disturbing. Much like many elements in this series, the subtle nature of these tortures affects the reader in a very keen way.
This is a chapter that is particularly perplexing and vague. It’ll likely come together in one read-through, but Adam Strange’s torture trips weren’t obvious in their intention. I might have guessed at it above, but at the same time, there seems to be more there yet to be revealed. That includes Adam Strange’s daughter, who continues to be a confusing element in the narrative. The series continues to hold its cards close to the vest, though, and requires patience to truly enjoy.
Shaner and Gerads continue to exceptional work. Shaner shines in this issue with the various sci-fi worlds, creatures, and trippy effects. Across a few panels, we see wildly different ideas making each panel a masterwork in itself. Meanwhile, Gerads ensures the scenes in the present are cold, contemplative, and show the heartlessness of Adam Strange. Gerads is always very good at capturing the fact that these characters are thinking and feeling something deep down. It adds a layer to your relationship with the character and the work.
Strange Adventures is a deeply contemplative series. It’s one that demands you read between the lines to discover true intentions and even truer feelings.
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