It’s been over two months since the last issue of Strange Adventures, which has given us plenty of time to ponder what is really going on in this tense thriller. In comics, especially with maxiseries like this, the penultimate issue can change the conversation, setting readers up for a final issue worthy of edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Given how this issue ends, Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Doc Shaner have done it.
Strange Adventures #11 opens with Adam Strange coming home to his wife, who promptly slaps him across the face. She’s livid, furious even, and needs some answers. Much like the audience, we are dying to know what is really going on here. As they argue, Gerads draws an impressive array of facial expressions that are like a dance. Adam is confused, bemused, and even in shock at moments. These expressions keep readers on their toes. What is really going on? What is Adam thinking? Where can this story go from here?
As the confrontation between the two rages on, Doc Shaner draws scenes that show the last moments of the Pykkt army. Adam Strange and Alanna are alone on a frozen world and their last jet pack is frozen. They need to keep moving to not freeze to death, but in a way, they need to keep moving to keep each other working. They’ve only ever known each other under a time of war and it’s clear they don’t necessarily function as a normal couple should.
King has plotted this issue exceptionally well and continues to show how this book works when looked at closely and when zoomed out. The confrontations taking place in each scene are intriguing and even heartbreaking. They seem disconnected aside from smart transitions between each scene and yet we’re getting information about Adam and Alanna’s relationship over time. From a story structure point of view, you can see how as one scene builds towards violence another is too. Doc Shaner’s scene informs the other and foreshadows where Alanna and Adam’s argument will go. That’s exciting as things come together.
There’s also a subverted message here about the emasculation of Adam Strange. It’s overt and obvious when Alanna calls him weak, for instance, and we’ve seen touches of it from the start of the series. It’s still too early to see if that emotional arc works since it isn’t always obvious, but it’s an intriguing element that continues to build.
The overall feel of this issue feels a bit off from the general subverted rage and emotion in previous chapters. Things are bubbling over so quickly here it’s hard to understand where it’s all coming from, as if it wasn’t earned or we don’t have all the facts yet to know why Adam would go as far as pointing a gun at his wife. Still, for a book with a dark mystery afoot, you need to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Strange Adventures #11 is a great example of how comics storytelling can play with time, space, and emotion in unique ways. The art team is doing incredible work thanks to the masterful plotting and a constant give and take. As penultimate issues go, this issue delivers plenty to ponder and promise for the finale.
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