Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Jamie S. Rich
Publisher: DC Comics
Tom King and Mitch Gerads team-up once again to deconstruct another classic silver age B-list superhero, nine panels at a time. This time, however, artist Evan “Doc” Shaner joins the fray as well, working in tandem with Gerads’s grounded artwork to provide a freshness to King’s story.
In Strange Adventures #1, we’re dropped in the middle of a book tour as Adam Strange promotes the memoir of his last year on the alien planet Rann. He’s dubbed as a space hero who fought for their freedom in a war 25 trillion miles away after accidentally being transported by a zeta beam. But fighting in a faraway space war and coming back to not only relay your heroics but also to sell it as well doesn’t sit well with some people. Not soon after, the truth of what really happened on Rann comes into question as the public decides whether or not Strange should be celebrated as an American space hero or tried as a bloodthirsty war criminal.
If you’ve read King’s past work, then Strange Adventures should be familiar territory as he utilizes much of the same structural and literary techniques used in his previous outings, namely the nine panel layout, repeating motifs, and deconstruction. However, unlike his previous stories that have largely focused on personal trauma, Strange Adventures looks to explore, define, and exemplify what truth truly means in a time where the search for it often leads to more questions and doubt.
Much of King’s more mainstream outings on books such as Batman and Heroes in Crisis have been contentious at best. In my opinion, it’s the 12 issue maxi series where King thrives, and Strange Adventures is a good example of that. As mentioned above, King relies on the same structural and literary techniques used in his other books to create a tightly scripted and well-paced issue that allows room for both artists to contribute to the story.
On the one hand, Gerads’s scratchy pencils bring a grounded realism to the story taking place on Earth as we follow an exhausted Strange navigating his own public perception. On the other hand, Shaner’s art style is a throwback to the retro futuristic, high-flying space operas of yesterday, complete with little pew pew sound effects. He presents a refreshingly optimistic and heroic Strange among the dourness that takes place in the present-day Earth storyline.
The colors also work to the same effect, providing a blue and orange hue in Gerads’s segments juxtaposed to Shaner’s more colorful side of the story. The lettering by Clayton Cowles is fairly standard, especially during Gerads’s portions, but he’s given more to work with during the action sequences.
With Strange Adventures, King looks to have yet another successful maxi series under his belt, proving once again that this kind of self-contained storytelling is where he’s most comfortable. However, those burnt out on his work may want to sit this one out as he goes through much of the same execution as he does for books like Mister Miracle and Vision. This is wholeheartedly a book for King fans through and through and will likely be an instant pull list addition for many.