Strange Adventures is the latest 12 issue maxiseries from creators Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Doc Shaner. King and Gerads, who had previously collaborated on the Eisner winning Mister Miracle, re-team along with artist Shaner to tell a brand-new story. This time around, the focus is on space adventurer and explorer Adam Strange.
Tom King kicks off the series with a promising first issue that sets up an interesting mystery while also establishing the genre of this series. The most interesting part of Strange Adventures is story’s structure. This first issue gives a glimpse into how the rest of the 11 issues will tell this story. On one hand, we have the story of Adam Strange on Earth, illustrated by Mitch Gerads. This part of the story has Adam on a book tour, promoting his autobiography that tells his story and his part in the war on the planet Rann. Running parallel to this earth-based story is Adam Strange’s time on Rann, illustrated by the immensely talented Doc Shaner.
While Adam Strange is a beloved figure on Earth and praised for his actions in the war on the planet Rann, controversy eventually finds its way into Adam’s life. After a disgruntled activist is killed shortly after criticizing Adam’s actions on Rann, suspicion begins to fall on Adam Strange.
This whole setup is brilliantly executed in the panels. The gritty realism on Earth by Gerads juxtaposes excellently with Shaners’ beautiful fantasy pulp on Rann. Even writer Tom King in his dialogue makes a contrast between the dual narratives. While everything is shown and spoken realistically on Earth, everything that happens on Rann looks and sounds like a pulp adventure comic at its cheesiest. Laser guns have a “pew pew” sound effect. We never really get to see the casualties of the war. Meanwhile, in the Earth narrative, we see the blown off head of the activist.
This carefully outlined narrative with the most minute details makes a world of a difference (pun intended) when addressing the themes of Strange Adventures. Just a single issue in, and Tom King and co. are already attempting to address the nature of truth and how such assumptions about what is and isn’t the truth can tear someone apart. The choice of the character of Adam Strange to be Tom King’s next subject also has a deeper meaning.
Adam Strange, a character based on colonial exploration and domination, represents the romantic fantasy of early 19th century colonialism. All of the good, and none of the bad. The myth of early European explorers that was carried into early comics and adapted to a space setting. A myth that Tom King wants to break down, and seperate. To show the ugly and brutal side of colonialism. Separating myth from reality. In this case, the myth and reality of what really happened to Adam Strange on Rann.
The first issue ends with Adam Strange hoping to clear his name. To do so, he enlists one of DC Comics’ greatest detectives to look into what happened on Rann. What Adam Strange did on Earth. His life is about to be dissected in this 12-issue series that will surely be an interesting ride.
With all of these aspects coming into play Strange Adventures is looking to be a captivating and dark series. With brilliant art from two artists and a solid script from Tom King, this first issue of Strange Adventures is a solid start to what could be the next classic.
Strange Adventures #1 is now available in comic stores everywhere.