‘Strange Adventures’ #4 Review: “There’s Always a Crisis”
The search for the truth ramps up in Strange Adventures #4, with Tom King taking a Mr. Terrific centric approach to issue 4. Gerads also has more of a spotlight this issue, as Terrific’s investigation leads him into space providing anew palette for the talented artist. Tom King does an excellent job with the multiple narrative threads in this story. Originally believed to be a dual narrative of Adam Strange’s time on Rann in the past and Earth in the present, it now has one extra layer. Mister Terrific has his own narrative, investigating Adam Strange at the request of Batman.
It’s at this point in the story that Terrific is forced to retrieve answers on Rann, the planet where Adam Strange went to war. The dual narrative here switches to Terrific in the present, with the second story being Strange in the past. The switch off there to move the focus to Terrific was a great choice by Tom King. Moving away the spotlight from Strange in the present time helps to emphasize both of the narratives in the different timelines. Speaking of, Strange’s story in the past is probably the most thematic of the series so far.
A gimmick of the character of Adam Strange has always been the zeta beam. It is his primary form of travel between Earth and Rann. Moreover, it is timed. After a specific amount of time, the zeta beam takes Adam back to Earth. Then, he must wait a cycle until he can return. In this specific story, the whole centerpiece of Tom King’s narrative is the war Strange went through. So, when Strange is inevitably beamed back to Earth, it’s when he least expects it, in the middle of a battle.
Wracked with guilt, Adam’s story in the past in this issue revolves around him attempting to get back to Rann early. Pleading his case to heroes such as Green Lantern and Superman, unfortunately to no avail. It’s here that we get to the heart of the issue (pun intended) which is Adam’s guilt. Strange Adventures continues to be one of the most compelling series being published thanks to its focus on the humanity of these larger than life characters. Adam is obsessed and determined to get back to the war he is in. The responsibility weighs heavily on his shoulders, and it shows. When he finally does teleport back to where the last was on the battlefield with his comrades, he finds nothing but dead bodies. He feels he isn’t enough.
Meanwhile, Terrific’s investigation in the present highlights everything great about the character. Donning his ‘fair play’ jacket, Terrific gets some of the coolest moments in the series yet. It is also more lighthearted than previous issues, providing fantastic tonal balance for the series.
Terrific is unfortunately blindsided by the Rann government. Their censoring of information on the war and Rann and trying to create their own context for the situation Strange was in creates a problem. This adds a new angle of political intrigue. It’s here in space that Mister Terrific is able to showcase his genius intellect and abilities. The pressure on his character in this issue followed by overcoming it is an entertaining read.
This issue ends on an odd cliffhanger to wrap up the issue. While issue 3 sets up the narrative thread of Strange’s wife Alanna being more than what she pretends to be, this issue solidifies it more. That is, Her arrival in Terrific’s home at the end of the issue. With that, Strange Adventures #4 ends it’s solid story with setup for more intrigue and character development for issue 5. Overall, this may be the best issue yet. In just four issues, Strange Adventures has raised interesting questions. Questions about truth, its subjectivity, and brought to light compelling themes of guilt and responsibility. It is an absolutely enthralling series that should be picked up. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Strange Adventures Issues 1-4 Are Now Available for Purchase