Strange Adventures #5
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
It is the halfway point through Tom King’s feelings on the Iraq war… Sorry, I mean the Rann/Pykkt war. Previous issues have been building up to the war (all flashbacks) and in this issue we finally get into the war itself. While this retelling is happening, there has been an investigation into Adam Strange’s possible war crimes. The big unknowns are still; what happened to Adam’s daughter, what is Rann hiding about the Pykkts, and was Adam Strange complicit in committing a war crime. Of course none of this matters if you think about it too hard. Rann is a far off planet and what Adam Strange did on Rann is effectively only the business of Rann. But clearly this is Tom King working through some of his feelings post Iraq War (where he served in the CIA) and looking at what constitutes a war hero, and if that is even a valid term.
This issue deals with the actual war, and Mister Terrific’s investigation focuses this time on Adam’s wife. There are more direct references to Adam’s daughter, finally, and it is coming into focus that some of the “war crimes” might have been retaliation for her death. Rann, at the start of the issue, even attempts to speak with the Pykkts before confronting them, and it ends in violence. At this point they are still framing the Pykkts as an invasive force and unsympathetic, but with some hints that Rann may have gone too far in defending themselves. Mister Terrific spends this issue with Adam’s wife and tries to dig a little deeper into what happened on Rann, since he was hitting roadblocks on his investigation prior. The story doesn’t have any major revelations and is simply setting up how the last half of the series will soon play out.
I am happy we are finally getting some hints on the larger story here. Each issue so far has placed one small piece down, as King builds the entire picture. The revelation here is a small one, but essential nonetheless with a new hint in Adam’s daughter’s death. King always writes about family, and how those strong bonds can make you do anything to help those you love. It is the one constant in every single King book. This issue shows that Adam Strange is ready to murder someone for the safety of his wife. Each issue is like a pot of water slowly coming to a boil, and it seems things are about to really spill over and get messy. I am enjoying how every issue has a central premise while still being connected in a larger narrative. Also, since King did serve on the CIA and was involved in war himself, it is an intriguing perspective seeing a writer tackle such a fictional war in a very real way. I have no doubt that this series will stand tall with the other Tom King mini-series.
The art is something else that is exceptional, and I think Strange Adventures arguably has the best art of any Tom King series, to date. Mitch Gerads is a constant companion to King and has done exceptional work in the past, but the way his work contrasts and works with Doc Shaner’s work is incredible. I really don’t think you can pick up a better looking mainstream comic on the shelf today.