Strange Adventures #3
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
The series continues with the investigation into Adam Strange and his supposed war crimes. The comic is divided into two parts, present-day Earth and flashbacks to planet Rann and Adam Strange’s adventures there. Strange denies that he did anything wrong while in space, and Mr. Terrific is conducting an impartial and independent investigation into the manner. Tom King is using his time in Iraq and Afghanistan as a basis for the fiction written here.
The story is fairly straightforward this time around as each half juggles a little less than the previous issues. The flashbacks solely tell a story about Adam in a ritual combat situation. It is not a spoiler to say he lives, but how he gets out of the situation puts the “hero” in some new light. The reader learns a bit more about the factions and races that live on Rann and how they all feed into the larger conflict and war. The present-day material jumps around a bit more but is still squarely focused on the investigation. However, a new wrinkle has been added to the mix in the form of 24/7 news. In a very contemporary twist, it is shown how the news media can twist, history, and exaggerate stories, to fill their cycle.
Tom King is working out some personal things here, and he always works best when he is not afraid to do so. There is a direct comparison between the “War on Terrorism” in Iraq and Afghanistan and what happened with Adam Strange on Rann. He is elevated as a “hero” on Earth, but he did some horrible things in the name of “protecting” the people of Rann. I can see this comic ending with it showing how Adam Strange did not commit war crimes but did things that would make anyone question his heroics. Tom King is showing that basically, anything done in war is effectively a crime by any normal standards. At the same time Adam is a good person, he was just put into a situation that forced his hand in doing evil things. There is also the constant hinting at something to do with Adam’s daughter, and basically, anyone can see this will be a keystone in figuring out what his “crimes” are. As a father myself I would do anything to protect them and could see that this may include something that puts our protagonist in a bad light. I also appreciate how King has emphasized the news media. During the Iraq war, it was treated as entertainment on television. A way to galvanize people on all sides of the aisle. The media is starting to play the role of an antagonist here, and I look forward to seeing how Tom King handles it moving forward.
Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner deserve an Eisner for their work here. It is that simple. I don’t think there is any book (at least that I’ve read this year) that comes close. Now that the media is in play Mitch Gerads gets to play with his unique artistry some more as his work typically distorts itself. And Shaner continues to draw some absolute jaw-dropping beautiful pulp artwork here.