Odaaanm Skggrauunche (Strange Adventures #8 comic review)
Strange Adventures #8
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
The Strange Adventures comic has always been split into two stories. One story is in the past and features the Pykkts war with Rann. The other takes place in the present and is about Mr. Terrific looking into the possibility of Adam Strange committing war crimes against the Pykkts. The previous issue had Adam Strange being a POW (in the past) and the Pykkts forces invading Earth (in the present). Now that Adam Strange has broken free his outlook on the Pykkt has changed, and them invading Earth should color the readers’ impressions as well.
Adam Strange was tortured in the previous issue (psychological/psychedelic torture) and has returned with a new outlook. He encounters a captured Pykkts (by Rannian forces) and his reaction is something that Adam Strange would not have done earlier. It shows that there may be something to the war crime accusations against him (even though we have yet to see the full scale of his supposed crimes). On Rann, Adam Strange also spends some time with his daughter. She has been a central aspect of the comic, without really being featured, and it seems to be setting up how she figures into the entire story. In the present day, Mr. Terrific takes a break from his investigation to fight the Pykkts on Earth. Mr. Terrific has learned the Pykkts language and therefore is trying to figure out why they have invaded. It is here the reader learns that they are invading Earth to get to Adam Strange. Outside of that, there are no large revelations as the issue is mostly a set up for the last 1/4 of the maxi-series.
This issue looks at war and really leaves the interpretation up to the reader. This is a war/military comic with sci-fi/superhero wrappings. No one is a good person. The Pykkts are invading Earth and killing innocent people, all to find one man. Adam Strange is now killing captured enemies. Mr. Terrific is trying to speak to Pykkts but still uses violence during questioning. War makes everyone a criminal. This is why I think King is leaving it up to the reader. Some might see Adam Strange killing a captured Pykkts and think “Well, he was tortured by them. and they are not really being ‘just’ in their invasion.” But you could equally look at it as “Adam Strange was just a POW himself. Shouldn’t he now have empathy for the ones they capture? Isn’t torturing and killing captured enemies making them just as evil?” Tom King is placing his own feelings of the time he served in Afghanistan and Iraq into this book, and I think he is trying to work something out for himself here. This issue is all about combat and what it makes people do. The last panel, in particular, is haunting, and leaves the reader not knowing if Adam Strange is a “hero.”
The art is excellent, as always. Shaner and Gerads really don’t need any critique here, but I do want to highlight a couple of things that really stood out to me. They do not just share the book (with Shaner working on Rann and Gerads on Earth) but they share some pages as well. With two very different artists working on the same page, you’d expect it to be jarring. Yet somehow they only highlight each other’s strengths and elevate their work. It is symbiotic art that only could work together. The other highlight was the violence. They have been drawing violent scenes before but there are two violent scenes that work as exclamation points in their respective stories. One features Mr. Terrific and the other features Adam Strange. Both showcase the brutality of war and contrast against each other. Each shows a breaking point in the character as they drop acting like a hero. It is powerful art. Regardless of how anyone feels about the comic as a whole, I don’t think anyone could say anything against the beautiful work done here by the art team.
Summary This issue may not have any large revelations, but it leans into the theme of the book. War is a crime in itself. War heroes can also be seen as war criminals depending on the angle you look at it. Adam Strange is a protagonist, but he is not a hero. However, a lot of what is said in this book is left to the reader to face their own feelings on the nature of War.