Strange Adventures has been an interesting comic series examining war and the lies we tell ourselves surrounding heroism. War is messy. It’s dirty. And, even when the reason is just, it involves horrors and acts that haunt those who commit them and may seem to be evil to those judging from the outside. History may be written by the victors but it doesn’t mean that those writers don’t feel guilt or know they’re spinning fiction from fact. Strange Adventures #6 examines the internal guilt of war and more in a haunting issue that’s emotionally raw.
Writer Tom King continues to explore his experiences in war through comics and this issue might be one of the most truthful and honest things written. Strange Adventures #6 features Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt, talking with Alanna, wife of Adam Strange. They discuss their actions and the loss they’ve both seen and suffered bonding to some extent over the loss of a daughter.
Through each character King examines different aspects of being a person. Alanna admits the actions she and Adam took during the battle with the Pykkts at times were over the line and horrific acts. Though their battle was “just” and in defense, they still went on to commit what was likely crimes. Alanna admits what they did was “cruel.” They were the “good guys who weren’t always good.” The cheering on of Adam and his adventures are tainted though the masses are unaware since Strange and his allies were the victors and the ones writing the history.
Through Holt, King explores fatherhood. We know he lost a child and his wife and here we get a stunning admission. We learn the truth about the loss of both and how they impacted Holt to become Mr. Terrific. To some extent the guilt drives him but the guilt isn’t of the loss, it’s the loss of the responsibility. Holt admits the coldness we’ve been seeing concerning the topic is real, he never wanted to be a father. The loss of his child was a relief to him. What’s interesting to me though is Holt’s slide in his discussion. In the beginning he refers to his child as “the kid,” then “the baby,” then back to “the kid,” and finally “it.” Not a “they,” he uses “it.” There’s an emotional distance to this event that King uses towards the end.
What King has put together is a dance between the two. As we get flashes of the Strange’s battles Holt and Alanna we get another battle, a battle of wits. Alanna hides her intelligence and we know Holt is one of the smartest individuals in the DC universe. In their sharing their scars they’re also playing a game with each other. Alanna is attempting to manipulate Michael while Michael is interrogating Alanna. That becomes clear with Michael’s final questions to Alanna as they depart from their get together. It’s a pointed question that takes an touching issue and delivers the cross-examination question that’s like a dagger.
As expected, Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner deliver gorgeous art also dancing between the two settings. The cold discussion between Alanna and Michael is juxtaposed with the heat of war. The colors reflect the flicker of the dance between reds and blues depending on the setting. The shift of colors are interesting as well as Michael and Alanna’s discussion goes from a warm yellow to eventually a cold blue. It’s all well worth examining and contemplating as each detail feels thought out as to their deeper meaning.
The lettering by Clayton Cowles continues to stand out too. The text changes between the civil conversation and the yelling of battle. The language of the Pykkts takes center stage too during one scene. Again, like the art itself, the lettering feels like it’s well thought out and every decision was thought of as far as how it fits into the greater meaning and impact to the story.
Strange Adventures #6 is the high point of the series showing of the cerebral nature of it all. Like discussed above, it’s a dance between two highly intelligent people as they figure each other out. The investigation continues as Michael still searches for the truth and we the reader are continued to be forced to question everything we’re shown in the past.
Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads, Evan Shaner Letter: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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