Writer: Tom King
Artwork: Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 4th March 2020
The creative minds behind last year’s blistering Mister Miracle are back with a fresh look at the character of Adam Strange in Strange Adventures from DC’s Black Label. Take a pinch of Barsoomian derring-do, a sprig of modern influencer culture, and a liberal dusting of eye watering visuals and the result is a veritable feast of comic action.
Strange, for the uninitiated, is an archaeologist who, by means of space rays, gets sucked to the planet Rann where he falls in love, fights battles, and generally becomes an all-round pulp hero. So, what makes this a relevant read today? Well, had it been simply a return to pulp with cliff-hangers and socking of bad guys, the team probably would have produced a solid enough series. Instead, we’ve got a darker tone and a teasing of secrets and tragedy that take this beyond the straightforward and give us an almost two-for-one special.
Meshed together seamlessly, despite what could easily have been jarring dissonance, is the telling of Strange on Earth now, and Strange on Rann before. With a lot of similarities to Mr Miracle, we see the very human side of Strange’s life as a hero selling the story, quite literally on a book tour, of his time ‘over there’. The gloriously mundane tasks of getting into costume, something that has been played for laughs in other books, is instead grounding and gives a humble nature to this man thrust into conflict. There’s an almost melodramatic quality explored which is deftly written to pull you in and catch you off guard when Joe Public lets loose.
Contrasting this heavily is the stylings of ‘Doc’ Shaner which, although thoroughly modern, are reminiscent of the golden four-colour age. Which means Retro ray guns, ships, and knee-high boots and buttons a plenty! The two visual styles are clearly distinct and instantaneously allow the reader to identify the switch in perspective. As I say, the handling is adept and with consistently high-quality lettering from Cowles, it flows effortlessly from panel to panel.
If you liked Mister Miracle (and the only reason you wouldn’t is if you hadn’t read it), then you’ll no doubt like this too. For some, the parallels and similarities might detract from this new story, but it was gonna be near impossible not to have commonalities. Perhaps that speaks to a greater truth about how heroes exist and the way we perceive them. The public face versus the private life. Regardless, this series looks set to pick at the scabs and wounds, and shine a light on the darker side of this intriguing character.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
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