What the $#%@ is wrong with you?! (Strange Adventures #11 comic review)
Strange Adventures #11
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
The last issue came with a major revelation, Adam Strange’s daughter is still alive. Adam is not the hero he is made out to be though. He cut a deal with The Pykkts to save his daughter, and Rann, by leading them to Earth (and getting around Batman’s plan). His daughter is still in the hands of The Pykkts army as collateral, even though she is presumed dead by everyone else, until this issue.
This issue is a lot more laser-focused than the previous ones. It revolves around two stories that solely deal with Adam’s marriage. In the past, Adam and Alanna are taking out the final two Pykkts on Rann. They have to go through The Moorm, an isolated colony of giant owl-like aliens. These aliens are not the most welcoming and only spare Strange because they want the Pykkts out of their homeland even more. It is a grotesque and humorous story beat, that is there to highlight how strong the bond is between Alanna and Adam. The modern-day story is a fight between the couple. Alanna is reasonably upset after finding out that her husband has been hiding the fact that her daughter is still alive. Everything she believed about Adam is a lie. This marital confrontation in many ways is far more intense than any alien battle.
This issue is 100% focused on character. The revelation from the last issue, and the fallout, is what makes up the driving force of every panel. Tom King works best when he is focused on relationship building. Throughout this comic Alanna has seemed like the “bad guy” while Adam Strange seems to be put upon. This all switches here, as it is impossible not to see Alanna’s side. Her husband lied to her about her daughter and the war in general. It is an ultimate betrayal. There are some higher stakes in the fight (which I will not spoil) but King walks the line and can escalate the conflict here in a believable way. His plan to contrast this with a flashback where they are in love helps. It really gets into how relationships can have beautiful and gut-wrenching moments, and one does not negate the other. The way King leaves this issue makes the next, and final, comic a must-read for me. Sometimes it is not the best idea to zoom in on micro conflicts and relationships in the penultimate chapter but it makes sense here. Even though this comic has been about a war (that is a clear allegory to the Iraq war) the core of this series is Alanna and Adam.
The art here is incredible, as always. Mitch Gerads covers the marital conflict between Adam and Alanna. His realistic but slightly “off” style works great here. The fight seems intense and full of emotion. There is no other artist like Gerads out there and I doubt anyone else could have pulled this part of the script off. Shaner gets to flex his sci-fi art muscles some more here as well. The alien creatures he creates are hauntingly beautiful. His idea to make these majestic, owl-like creatures that have these grotesque arms is just sublime. You never directly see the horror they cause, but the pictures he paints with their introduction allow the reader to imagine every part of it. He knows exactly what to show and what to hold back. Overall the art in this issue is perfect, which is not news.
Summary The penultimate issue of Strange Adventures focuses on Adam and Alanna, the core of the entire series. While the war allegory is on the back burner here; King, Gerads, and Shaner create an amazing comic that is a highlight of the series.