Review: Strange Adventures #7
[Editor’s Note: This review CONTAINS spoilers]
Writer: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads & Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Adam recalls his “torture” by the Pykkts and Alanna presses him to come clean about anything he’s been keeping from her…and what he reveals is a doozy!
In issue #6, Mister Terrific was able to convince Alanna that Adam was keeping something from her about their daughter, Aleea. In this issue, Alanna queries Adam about anything he may not have told her. Alanna’s direct approach is great. It one of those moments that shows the reader a lot about that character through that character’s action and way of handling the particular situation. It fits with the way Alanna is shown in the flashback sequences throughout the series, as well. The “Adam Strange” feature has always been about Adam and Alanna as a couple. Sure, Adam is the hero and he “always” saves Rann. However, Alanna was never far away. Alanna accompanied Adam on many adventures in their Silver Age appearances and was always a love interest that seemed pretty darn interesting on her own. Even if she wasn’t able to stop invaders and such, she always had the intel on them to give Adam a running start.
This issue, as it follows from the last, and despite most of it being about Adam’s torture at the hands of the Pykkts demonstrates that this is Alanna’s story, too. She’s defended her husband intensely from the first issue. She’s shown she’s not afraid of Batman or Mister Terrific. Now, she confronts her husband. It’s a scene that was destined to be anticipated by readers as it should either give credence to or obliviate Mister Terrific’s assertions. The result of course is as interestingly gray as much of this series has been. However, this scene does make us like Alanna even more. What Alanna learns is still up for interpretation. Because, there’s so much going on….
Gerads really nails the tension in the scene with the right emphasis and interesting framing. The facial expressions and postures the figures take are simply perfect. There’s no doubt in what the characters are feeling even if the scene were wordless.
“Doc” Shaner gets to let loose a bit as he depicts Adam’s torture at the hands of the Pykkts. It’s not necessarily gory, but it’s a particularly bizarre and nasty business. Adam is essentially zeta beamed to different place- like space without a space suit- and then returned before he dies. That sort of thing. There’s another fellow there with him who’s very talkative. He’s already survived the torture as a survivor of Anthorann, and after the torture, he gave up and did what the Pykkts requested of him. He’s here to talk Adam and the reader through what’s going on, what the point of the torture is. Because, it’s not simply for him to give up and die…but, rather to get Adam to DO something. Now, what could that be….? Hmmm….
Strange Adventures #7 continues to muddy the water and deepen the mystery of what’s going on and what transpired in the past. Even when it seems like something is clear, it isn’t, and it won’t really be clear until the very end.
Again, with this series, these aren’t so much negatives, but rather concerns. I’ll echo Alanna’s exclamation when Adam tells her he did actually kill that guy from the bookshop back in issue #1- “What the $%#@ were you thinking?!” It’s concerning that Adam is actually the killer. It’s a little odd that he would claim innocence and then want Batman to solve the mystery. I think Alanna can see it too, despite Adam having an explanation. What’s really significant here is that when viewed in conjunction with the point of the torture, it suggests that Adam has been compromised.
We don’t see him escape from the Pykkts, he simply remains surrounded by them after killing the talkative guy. It’s still unclear at this point. I’ve suggested before that this may be an imposter Adam, but as it stands now, it appears more likely that Adam has been compromised. There are two ways this could go. If King can successfully sell the idea that Adam is truly the victim and is left a redemptive path then this could work out. On the other hand, if there’s no path to redemption for Adam, this could be another Heroes in Crisis situation in which King does a character assassination of a DC Comics character. However, the execution on Strange Adventures is far superior to Heroes in Crisis.
Finally, last month saw the release of Strange Adventures #1 Director’s Cut. The most insightful aspect was the proper spelling of “Aleea” in the script despite it being misspelled in the actual printed issue #1. Though Adam claims there’s nothing he’s hiding about Aleea in this issue, it still doesn’t seem right. And, despite Alanna’s reaction to his assertions, I don’t think she believes him either.
Overall, Strange Adventures #7 is another excellent chapter in this series. Though the issue raises some serious concerns about the treatment of Adam’s character, it’s extremely well written and beautifully illustrated by Shaner and Gerads. The deepening mystery is a plus, and one can’t help liking Alanna more and more as this series continues. One hopes that Adam will not be destroyed in the process.