Strange Adventures #4
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
The investigation continues, as Mr. Terrific looks into the possible war crimes committed by Adam Strange. Being one of the smartest people on the planet, and highly logical and unbiased, he stands as the best choice for an investigator. A part of Adam Strange’s origin/thematic structure also finally shows up here. Adam Strange is a hero from Earth but his adventures are mostly featured on Rann. However, a Zeta Beam comes every few weeks to zap him back and forth between the two planets. So this comic has an interesting set up with Adam Strange beamed back to Earth and Mr. Terrific investigating on Rann.
The story starts with the Zeta Beam bringing Adam Strange back to Earth. This happens at the worst possible time as he is in the middle of a giant battle, with his newly earned allies from issue #3. So Adam has no clue how the battle went and spends his time on Earth looking for support from his fellow superheroes. Green Lantern and Superman both have their reasons for not bringing him back to Rann, and he just has to make due on Earth waiting for the Zeta Beam to bring him back. Mr. Terrific’s story is a lot denser as his investigation is now showing some conflict. While Rann seems open and welcoming, they refuse to allow him to read all the historical data. The only thing he has access to is material written by Rannians, anything in the Pykkt’s language is forbidden. When Mr. Terrific shows he has learned the Pykkt’s’ “barbaric” language (as the Rannians put it) he comes in direct conflict with the government of Rann. It is the first time that there seems to be evidence that Rann is covering for war crimes.
This series continues to impress me and I am glad Tom King is back on track. Seeing what he has in the pipelines at DC it looks like he is sticking to this maxi-series format for the time being. When he gets to play with DC characters without worrying about continuity or long-form storytelling, he thrives as a writer. Flipping the narrative, where Mr. Terrific is on Rann and Adam Strange is on Earth, allows for the story to not get stale. Adam’s discussions with Superman and Green Lantern also highlights his political themes in a more subtle way. Green Lantern looks at the whole war as neutral. It shows how the Green Lantern Corps has trained Hal Jordan to be detached. He doesn’t want to bring Adam back to Rann as he doesn’t want to get involved in a conflict. Which is a political stance that says nothing and does nothing. Superman’s reasons for not bringing Adam to Rann are nobler. While he most likely cares about stopping a war, he is simply juggling too much. He explains that the days it would take to get to Rann, a vast number of crises could occur. He simply weights the positive with the negative, and not remaining neutral. Tom King is showing how he sees each hero’s attitude toward conflict and protection in an interesting and thought-provoking way. Mr. Terrific’s mission is what is more heavily linked with modern-day political discussion. Rain controls the narrative because the “won” the war, and history is written by the victors. They have now buried the Pykkts side of the war. It highlights that whenever we see a war or conflict in real life, we are only told one side. This has to be connected with King’s time in Iraq and Afghanistan and how the American “victory” only really allows for one version of events. Tom King is creating a thought-provoking comics that I cannot wait to have as a trade on my shelf next to his other maxi-series work.
The art team here is perfect as always, but even they change things up. Traditionally Evan Shaner works on the Rann pages and Mitch Gerads focuses on Earth. When the Zeta Beam hits Adam Strange at the start of this comic, it not only switches our hero’s location but also the art team. This issue has some beautifully detailed pages on Earth, and Mitch Gerads shows the gritty side of Rann. It is a tonal shift the elevates the story that Tom King was telling. The Zeta Beam even allows both artists to work together as you get the clean Shaner work with the signature Gerads special effects coloring overtop. There is nothing but praise for the creative team here as they create the best looking book on the shelves today.