Coming up in Strange Adventures #5 on September 8, Mr. Terrific is back on Earth, and he’s making things hot for Adam Strange—but he also might get a little burned himself! The conflict is out in the open now, and the court of public opinion doesn’t play fair.
Mr. Terrific was picked to investigate the accusations against Adam Strange because he was the most impartial member of the Justice League-but can even he keep all of this from getting personal?
Plus, as we witness more of Adam’s adventures in outer space, will his version of events jibe with the facts, or will they continue to drift further apart? Find out in the series everyone is talking about by one of the most acclaimed creative teams in comics!
Strange Adventures #5 is by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner.
Story: Tom King Art: Evan “Doc” Shaner, Mitch Gerads
Welcome to planet Rann, Mr. Terrific! Earth’s champion of fair play has traveled halfway across the galaxy to investigate firsthand the crimes Adam Strange stands accused of. He’s not going to find many friendly witnesses, though, as the people of Rann consider Adam Strange their true champion. Yet for all the resistance Mister Terrific faces on the surface of Rann, his true opposition may be lurking closer to his subject than he realizes. This adventure between two worlds continues, with Mitch Gerads drawing the gritty Earth sequences, and Evan “Doc” Shaner showing us the splendor of Adam Strange’s battles in outer space!
Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!
Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!
Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.
Dark Nights: Death Metal #2 (DC Comics) – DC’s event is beyond over the top and at this point, it’s the different spins on Batman that’s the real entertainment.
Empyre #1 (Marvel) – The big event officially gets underway. We’ll have our review later today.
Engineward #1 (Vault Comics) – The description is very Kirby-esque in a sci-fi adventure featuring god-like Celestials and grand concepts.
Snake Eyes: Deadgame #1 (IDW Publishing) – Rob Liefeld takes on G.I. Joe and we’re intrigued. Major X was a mess of a comic but still, it’s fascinating to see where he takes characters and stories.
Strange Adventures #3 (DC Comics) – The series has become a hybrid crime/mystery and political thriller and it’s been fascinating to see where it goes and what it delivers. Not what we expected as an issue and excited to read more.
Transformers ’84: Secrets & Lies #1 (IDW Publishing) – Simon Furman returns to the world of Transformers continuing the world of 1984’s series.
Written by: Tom King Art by: Evan “Doc” Shaner, Mitch Gerads
Can Adam Strange handle the truth? After the cosmic adventurer was accused of murder and had his whole record as a soldier questioned, he turned to Batman for help clearing his name. But someone else was needed to ensure that the investigation would be truly impartial. Enter Mr. Terrific, the man for whom “Fair Play” is a credo to live by. Be careful what you wish for, Adam Strange, because your life is about to be turned upside down. This could be one of the greatest tests you’ve ever faced. Like when you had to prove yourselves in Rann’s gladiatorial arena. This adventure between two worlds continues, with Mitch Gerads drawing the gritty Earth sequences and Doc Shaner showing us the splendor of Adam Strange’s battles in outer space!
It’s been some time since the debut of Strange Adventures. The maxi-series was an intriguing start exploring the mythology of war and war heroes. Strange Adventures #2 is a shift in some ways. Writer Tom King focuses on the comic on Michael Holt, aka Mr. Terrific, as he has to decide if he’s going to take up the case. At stake is the truth about Adam Strange’s war stories and the possibility he committed murder.
King delivers a fascinating issue that sets of Holt’s bonafides as an investigator. We get a comparison in a way with Batman and King intelligently gives us reasons as to why Holt is a better choice to do this than Batman. But, what King does that’s really impressive is tie together real-world socio-political issues that are in the reader’s head. Holt is a Black man who’d be investigating a White war hero.
How would that look? How will the public react?
King through various scenes and outright pondering teases that this isn’t a simple investigation for Holt. There’s some real danger to him, his reputation, and possibly his safety by taking this on. King also delivers some emotional reasons for Holt taking on the case that are revealed as the issue wraps up. It adds more of an emotional connection to the case and in doing so adds depth to the character.
But, the issue isn’t totally focused on Michael Holt deciding if he wants to take the case. We’re also taken to the world of Rann-and as Strange attempts to find allies in his battle. This part of the story is a bit weaker without a feel of danger but it’s a necessity. There’s very much a Flash Gordon meets Planet of the Apes vibe to it all. It fills in some gaps to Strange’s story and it’s a piece of the bigger puzzle as to what really happened.
Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner trade off duties as one focuses on the present day and the other the past and war. The two styles work really well together tied nicely with a color palette focused on blues and reds and oranges. There’s an interesting dance between the two segments as the issue has an almost dreamlike sequence about it in ways. The bouncing between the two with the changing of colors is something that can be explored on its own, and what was used where is a very deliberate choice. A red eye being the focus on a blue panel for instance is symbolism that can be read in to and debated for some time.
The issue is interesting in that it feels a bit like a distraction from the story set forth in the first issue. But, it’s a really intelligent issue as it sets up the qualifications of the person who will be “trying” Strange. It lays out the case as to why this is the right person with the issue acting like a resume and defending the choice for the story. It also sets up that this is even less of a clear investigation and there are political landmines throughout. The issue would have done better if there wasn’t so much of a gap and on its own it’s not too exciting. But, it still feels like a key set up as to what’s to come so as a piece of the greater story, Strange Adventures #2 is a very interesting issue.
Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner Letterer: Clayton Cowles Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
(W) Tom King (A) Evan Shaner (A/CA) Mitch Gerads In Shops: Jun 17, 2020 SRP: $4.99
DC BLACK LABEL AGES 17+ What is the truth about Adam Strange? When an activist who publicly accused him of war crimes ends up dead, the public begins to doubt Strange’s stories about his adventures on the planet Rann-and he’s even starting to doubt himself. It’s going to take a special investigator to get the truth, and he’s going to have to tear apart Adam Strange’s life and reputation to do it. A special miniseries set on two worlds, it takes two artists to bring Strange Adventures to life. Mitch Gerads tackles the earthbound sequences, while Doc Shaner launches us into space. And it’s all written by Tom King, the Eisner Award-winning writer who brought you Mister Miracle, Omega Men, and Sheriff of Babylon.
In Strange Adventures #3 on July 14, can Adam Strange handle the truth? After the cosmic adventurer was accused of murder and had his whole record as a soldier questioned, he turned to Batman for help clearing his name. But someone else was needed to ensure that the investigation would be truly impartial.
Enter Mr. Terrific, the man for whom “Fair Play” is a credo to live by. Be careful what you wish for, Adam Strange, because your life is about to be turned upside down. This could be one of the greatest tests you’ve ever faced. Like when you had to prove yourselves in Rann’s gladiatorial arena.
This adventure between two worlds continues, with Mitch Gerads drawing the gritty Earth sequences and Doc Shaner showing us the splendor of Adam Strange’s battles in outer space!
Shipping monthly, Strange Adventures #3, by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner, will hit shelves on July 14.
Strange Adventures #2 hits shelves next Tuesday, June 16.
While I was reading Strange Adventures #1, or Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan Shaner’s latest comic on King’s military service and his regrets and feelings about working for the CIA as well as how much he loves his wife starring a DC Comics B-list character, I had the sneaking suspicion I’d read a better version of this comic. That comic was Dare: The Controversial Memoir of Dan Dareby Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes that was serialized in the UK comics magazines Revolverand Crisisin 1990-1991 before being reprinted by both Fantagraphics‘ Monster Comics imprint and Image Comics.
Before going into the whole anything Tom King/Scott Snyder/Geoff Johns has done, a British Invasion writer like Alan Moore or Grant Morrison has done better (And decades before.), I’ll look at the surface similarities between Strange Adventures and Dare. Created in 1958 and 1950 respectively, Adam Strange and Dan Dare have the same Space Age DNA and were influenced by previous sci-fi action heroes, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. In his early stories, Adam Strange was accidentally transported from an archaeology dig to the planet Rann where he protected the planet from invaders and fell in love with their princess, Alanna. Dan Dare’s stories were set in the “future” of the 1990s, and he was a pilot in the Interplanet Space Fleet, who explored other planets and protected Earth from the invasions of the villainous Treen.
Strange Adventures and Dare show both Adam Strange and Dan Dare as way past their prime with Dare having a little more satirical bite. The framing narrative of Strange Adventures is Adam Strange going on a book tour where he gets asked questions some friendly, some antagonistic about his actions in Rann, and this ramps up when one of his critics is found with a laser blast in his head. In Dare, Dan Dare is disabled, living off a military pension, and struggling writing his memoirs when Gloria Monday (A stand-in for Margaret Thatcher.) asks him to be the symbol of her re-election campaign even as he begins to find out that her government may have been responsible for the death of his old ally, Dr. Jocelyn Peabody.
Strange Adventures and Dare use the Pykkt Empire (Created for the series) and the Treen respectively as stand-in’s for the “other”. Strange Adventures seems to be using the Pykkt as a commentary on American interventionism in the Middle East (Which is where Tom King served.) with Shaner staging the Adam Strange flashbacks on a desert planet with him fighting a solider with a head and face covering. Dare uses the Treen as a general metaphor for the rebirth of British imperialism, but especially the Falklands War with Hughes’ clever parodies of the Sun‘s violent, xenophobic headlines and the connection between that war and Gloria Monday, er, Margaret Thatcher’s reelection in 1983.
I will throw up a quick disclaimer that Dare is a completed work while Strange Adventures has eleven more issues to tell its story. However, Dare is the stronger work of satire while King seems to be too close to the material he’s writing about to go from his personal experience to something more universal other than a fairly banal “Who is telling the truth?” Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes introducing Dan Dare as a pathetic figure drinking and popping painkillers in front of his fireplace looking more like Morrissey than a “boy’s own comic” hero, who can’t even write his memoirs properly. This desperation and need for money is why he basically sells his soul to the devil and lets Monday use his image for her reelection campaign in the midst of strikes and food shortages that were the reality in the U.K. when Thatcher was prime minister and have not gone away even with fancy things like interplanetary space travel.
In all aspects, Dare is an excellent work of social commentary that uses the iconic British comic strip character to skewer imperialism, racism, and Tory/Conservative policies that have persisted to 2020 with the government of Boris Johnson in the U.K. and Donald Trump in the United States. Towards the end of the second issue, Morrison and Hughes have Dare’s old batman (A military officer’s personal servant aka hooray for class tension.) , Digby with which he has a strained relationship, confront him for killing Treen children in his last space battle. Instead of making Dare contrite or remorseful, he is portrayed as defensive while still having the good point that Digby watched him gun down the Treen children when they revolted after being treated by both their own leader, Mekon, and Earth as a slave labor force. Dare’s disability, his addictions, and money issues make him a sympathetic figure, but Morrison and Hughes aren’t afraid to call him out on his actions and make a character created to inspire young boys to serve God and the British Empire look weak and morally compromised.
On the other hand, Strange Adventures #1 seems less concerned with broader social commentary and more about Tom King using yet another DC character to deal with how he personally feels about being in the CIA, albeit, with better visuals and less line-wide impact than Heroes in Crisis. The dialogue that Strange uses is telling as he implores Batman to “show them I’m innocent” in a dark-draped panel drawn by Mitch Gerads. Unlike Dare, which casts a skeptical eye on British pop iconography, and by extension, politics and foreign policy, Strange Adventures is about vindication.
Adam Strange has to be the exposition spouting hero drawn in a clean pulp style by Evan Shaner, and this tension between him and Mr. Terrific’s investigation looks like the driving force behind the series. He has to be the hero and have the big redeeming moment while Dare is impotent, can barely walk, and his imagery is used to uphold a government that is okay with turning “undesirable” humans into food called Manna in cahoots with the Treen leader, Mekon, that Dare fought so many years ago. For now, King seems content with self-involvement via superheroes instead of looking at larger systems of control like Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes did in Dare.
Dare ends with a bomb that Dare set in his old spaceship, Anastasia, going off and wiping out London, including Mekon, who was there celebrating Gloria Monday’s election as well as the protagonist himself before cutting to a blank drawing board in almost a similar manner to the way the ending of Animal Man showed Grant Morrison meeting his creation. It’s a stark, six panel reminder that Dan Dare’s creator, Frank Hampson, signed away the rights to his creation just like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster did with Superman under predatory, work for hire contract.
Dare may have been a cheerful, heroic figure, but his creator, Hampson, did not reap a financial reward commensurate with his fame. Morrison and Hughes are using an iconic British character to basically flip off the comics establishment a couple years before the founding of Image Comics in a kind of metafiction and create a revolutionary story. It is highly unlikely that King, Gerads, and Shaner will do that to DC Comics/Warner Bros/A T and T, and at its best, Strange Adventures will be an attempt at pastiche and a dark deconstruction of a Silver Age space hero.
And the fact that Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes use an iconic figure in British pop culture instead of a character that rarely has his own title to tell their story of heroism being used to serve the predatory establishment instead of fighting for truth, justice, and all that stuff makes Dare a stronger story than Strange Adventures. This is despite the comic not being as well-known as Grant Morrison’s other work during that time period, including Zenith, Arkham Asylum, Animal Man, and Doom Patrol. And along with being a compelling work of satire, Dare has some wonderful flourishes like Rian Hughes’ brutalist approach to future architecture and world-building with a character remarking that Art Deco didn’t leave much room for places to live and shop and a cheeky sense of deadpan humor. (See any photoshoot scene featuring Dan Dare.)
If you’re looking for a story where so-called paragons of heroism are powerless to shake the bonds of systems of control, then Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes’ Dare is a comic worth reading. Instead of gazing at its own navel (Albeit in a visually interesting way by Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner) like Strange Adventures, Dare offers up a portrait of a society crumbling due to conservative social policies and choosing power over decency through the lens of a spaceman’s salad days.
It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.
Written by Tom King Art by Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner Cover art by Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner DC BLACK LABEL AGES 17+ In Shops: Apr 01, 2020 SRP: $4.99
What is the truth about Adam Strange? When an activist who publicly accused him of war crimes ends up dead, the public begins to doubt Strange’s stories about his adventures on the planet Rann—and he’s even starting to doubt himself. It’s going to take a special investigator (editor’s note—he’s terrific) to get to the truth, and he’s going to have to tear apart Adam Strange’s life and reputation to do it.
A special miniseries set on two worlds, it takes two artists to bring Strange Adventures to life. Mitch Gerads tackles the earthbound sequences, while Doc Shaner launches us into space. And it’s all written by Tom King, the Eisner Award-winning writer who brought you Mister Miracle, Omega Men, and Sheriff of Babylon.
Strange Adventures #2, by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner and Clayton Cowles, hits shelves April 1, 2020.