Review: Strange Adventures #10
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Colors: Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Alanna gets Mr. Terrific’s insight on what’s really going on with Adam and the Pykkts. Is it the truth? Is it the whole truth? Is it nothing but the truth?
Right out of the gate, Strange Adventures #10 promises to deliver on some of the mysteries that have been lingering since Adam and Alanna arrived on Earth in Strange Adventures #1. This reveal has been long in coming as we’ve been teased since that first issue that not all is as it seems. It’s good to have some movement on this front. That said, there’s been reverses before in this series. Everything has been played so close to the vest that it’s possible that there are even more twists and turns to come. More mysteries within mysteries to be uncovered.
Technically, Strange Adventures #10 is executed masterfully. King keeps the reader on the hook up until the last couple pages in which he drops the final bomb…but, I won’t spoil it here. Throughout the issue, Alanna is reading a document on her phone sent by Mr. Terrific in which he explains his thought process and how he’s come to his conclusions. It’s broken down into almost three separate narratives, and they all mesh beautifully.
Narrative one is Mr. Terrific’s conclusions as he makes hypotheses that he explains along the way. This is underscored by, but not illustrated in flashbacks to Rann. There are certain moments that Mr. T’s worlds seems to describe what Adam is doing on Rann, but not always. There’s almost an ironic quality to the relationship between what is described and what Adam is actually doing. The third narrative is Alanna’s day. She showers, gets dressed and ready to go to the White House and then appears on television for a news briefing and finally returns home. In her down time through the day she is reading Mr. Terrific’s revelations.
As we’ve seen in recent issues, this series has turned more and more into Alanna’s story. This is especially true for Strange Adventures #10. The book has shifted its point-of-view to Alanna’s experience and really made Adam almost an outsider. The end of the issue when Mr. Terrific drops his final bombshell impacts Alanna in a way it doesn’t impact Adam.
As we’ve seen over the previous nine issues, the art by Gerads and Shaner is outstanding. Gerads gets to draw Alanna on every page in his section of the story. She’s always front and center and it’s almost as if she’s there to make the reader try and find a crack in her demeanor. Mr. Terrific is certainly bombarding her with a lot of information and three major accusations about her husband. She never loses her composure until the end, but along the way Gerads makes it clear that she is struggling with Mr. T’s worlds and attempting to digest them. It’s hard not to wonder if she isn’t feeling exactly what the reader is feeling. The reader should be invested exactly the same way Alanna is in the information Mr. Terrific is revealing.
Meanwhile, Shaner continues to give us the good fight back on Rann. There’s a panel towards the end of the issue, and it’s the last panel we get of Adam and Alanna in flashback in the issue in which the pencils, inks and colors are left incomplete on the side of Adam that trails into the right hand border. In Mr. T’s message to Alanna, this is where he really gets her to doubt. Ironically, in the flashback it’s a scene where Alanna begins to believe that all their hard work against the Pykkts is working and they are winning. It’s a remarkably effective decision to depict Adam in this way.
One can’t understate how important and powerful Clayton Cowles lettering for Mr. Terrific’s communication to Alanna is. It makes it clear that it is not simple narration from the writer and it stands out stylistically from the dialogue in the book. Simply from the design the reader knows it’s Mr. T’s words and that is telling a separate narrative from the other two.
Finally, the use the quote from the Book of Psalms is extremely clever. It’s obviously an element that King planned on using and it’s just been sitting there the whole time. King uses it to great effect as well. It’s not just a surprise moment, but it indicates there may be yet another layer beyond what we’ve seen so far.
Much like issue #1, Strange Adventures #10 seems to cast the content of Adam Strange’s character into a questionable light. The exact nature of the accusations have changed, but it remains the same intent when figuring out the purpose of this series. There’s a chance that Adam will be redeemed by the story in the end, but at this point it isn’t looking good for him. Deconstructing the hero isn’t a new comic book motif, but it does seem to be one that Tom King enjoys employing. Unfortunately, the final resolution will determine how this series is remembered. There’s no question that the journey has been amazing, but in the end if Adam turns out to be a bastard or simply “too human” it will drain a lot of the excitement for this series and any lingering hoopla over it.
The positives outweigh the negatives here as the technical aspects of Strange Adventures #10 manage to outweigh the portents of Adam’s chicanery. Additionally, the negatives are fueled by conjecture and expectations based on King’s other work. Even if one is unsure of King’s story direction, it’s undeniable that Gerads and Shaner do everything they can to sell book!