Strange Adventures has been political, subversive, and deeply unsettling in how it holds a mirror up to our own world as we slowly learn what is really going on for Adam Strange, his wife, and the war he brought to Earth. In the latest issue, more answers are revealed as we get even closer to the series finale.
This issue is told nearly exclusively via captions that are from a letter that Adam Strange’s wife Alanna is reading. Part of the fun in reading the captions is piecing together who is writing it, though if you’ve been reading this series you can probably guess fairly early on. This letter details the conundrum of the mysteries within the series and how things don’t add up. They eventually find meaning, as if the writer of the letter is thinking out loud, and come to some interesting conclusions. Whether or not they are true remains to be seen, which in a sense is what makes this series so compelling. We never really know what the full truth is, whether it’s what we’re seeing or what a character is saying. That theme continues here which further adds a layer of mystery.
The last issue introduced Psalm 31:10 and it returns here. I wrote a bit about this passage and what it could mean in my previous review, but here we gain a lot more insight and are further led to some rather conclusive conclusions. Then again, since this entire issue is framed around a letter from a character who is only guessing at some things, saying anything is conclusive is going too far. Psalm 31:10 adds a lot of conclusive matter to dig into though and ultimately Tom King has weaved in enough to hammer home what has been going on under our noses all along.
The storytelling has been great at unveiling a mystery without giving us certain answers. The beautiful art does the same, and then some. This issue continues to blend Mitch Gerads and Doc Shaner’s art and, as previously noted, the art is blending on a single page versus previous issues, giving each artist a chunk of a story to tell on their own. Gerads does beautiful work here with light, blur, and other effects, bringing the realism up a notch. Meanwhile, Shaner continues to draw the sci-fi scenes in a traditional superhero style that’s appealing but also juxtaposed in interesting ways with Gerads work.
That blending further collides with an interesting moment where Adam Strange is stripped away of color to show his pencils and the blue lines. Drawn by Shaner, this panel reveals artistic elements usually not shown since they’re covered up with inks and colors eventually. What does this choice mean for the story, or the scene for that matter? We’ve seen comics stories disassemble art in this way to convey something going on at a deeper level, and this suggests what we’re seeing may be fabricated. Since the story is framed around a letter, and the series focuses on the information being relayed that may not be true, one could surmise this artistic choice is furthering the idea visually.
This book continues to play out like a magic trick, and a good one at that. There are interesting visual ideas at work, blended in a new way since two artists working so closely on the page together is a rare thing, but also because so much information is subverted or hidden away. Much like a good magician, the creative team has kept us guessing every step of the way, and further intrigue us by doing less and misdirecting us. For some, this is a recipe for frustration, but Strange Adventures continues to enthrall with visual and storytelling tricks usually left to the best magicians.
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