What is the cost of a traumatic experience? What happens when you experience something out of our control, and have to try and move on from it? To re-insert yourself to societal norms trying to act like you haven’t changed. A feeling akin to living in two different worlds. The one you were in, and the one you are in now, where society expects you to act one way or another. This is what I believe the message to be of Strange Adventures #3, written by Tom King. Also featuring beautiful art by Mitch Gerads and Doc Shaner.
Throughout the issue, Adam Strange, the titular character, attempts to adjust to his current status on Earth. This is told parallel to his grueling experience on the deserts of the planet of Rann. Strange is forced to commit unspeakable acts on Rann for his survival. Moreover, the parallel story being told on earth has him doing questionable press conferences to try and protect his reputation, which is currently under investigation.
Here, King paints Adam Strange as a man vulnerable to his surroundings, a man changed from his trials on the planet of Rann. He interacts with the heroes on Earth, fighting battles with them and looking to them for consolation. In Strange’s attempts to move on and conform rather than open up about his past, we see that he struggles to truly acknowledge his troubles. Rather, his superficial approach to dealing with his issues has led to an investigation from Mr. Terrific that will eventually reveal the truth.
Therein lies the problem for Strange’s wife, who has a lot more investment into this then Adam, for some mysterious reason. Her interactions with Batman and Adam Strange in this issue are both intriguing and troubling. Tom King’s signature style of mystery writing works so well in this issue. His characterization of Strange’s wife, Alanna Strange, was the standout of this issue. The juxtaposition of Adam struggling with a horribly violent act and Alanna’s cold unemotional response to it was chilling. All in all, Strange Adventures #3 sets up Alanna as a major player for the remaining issues.
In regard to the art, it is as beautiful as ever. These reviews are going to start sounding like an echo chamber when mentioning the artwork, as Shaner and Gerads work remains perfect. Gerads real world approach to the heroes of the DC universe always looks good. Particular panels involving heroes in battle is truly awe-inspiring. Meanwhile, Doc Shaner captures the range and violence taking place on Rann in a particularly dark way, contrasting his more lighthearted work in the previous issues.
Overall, despite a slow narrative pace and not much advancing the plot, Tom King and Co. still deliver a thrilling issue. King also manages to bring in compelling narrative themes that raises challenging questions. Playing on tired tropes of trauma from violence for exciting character development, Strange Adventures #3 is a stellar exercise in putting characters through the grinder. Adam Strange is a man struggling with his past actions, and I for one am excited to see how he comes out the other end of what Tom King has planned. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Grade – 8.5/10
Strange Adventures #1-3 are now available at your local comic shop or available for purchase online.