Strange Adventures, Strange Questions: Tom King Renews Interest in Earth's First Spaceman

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Strange Adventures 1

You only have to go a few pages in to STRANGE ADVENTURES #1 before you know you're in a Tom King book. The traditional hallmarks are there -- the repetitive cycles of daily life that become a routine of ennui, even in the life of someone who regularly participates in the extraordinary.

Adam Strange is Earth's first spaceman. An archeologist by trade, Adam chanced upon an encounter with a Zeta Beam, a transportation ray that strikes Earth at specific times and teleports whoever it hits across the galaxy to the planet Rann, ravaged by pollution and in perpetual war with itself. Naturally, he becomes a hero, being a virile man of Earth. It's reminescent of Edgar Rice Burroughs' JOHN CARTER series in that respect.

But Adam has put the war behind him for now, and is on Earth, doing a book tour and capitalizing on his adventures. And that is the truly strange part. Forget the Pykkt tribes of Rann he has battled, the interstellar teleportation, and the birth of the first Rann/Earth hybrid baby between Adam and Alanna. No, what's strange is the book tour, and for many reasons.

It's strange at first because it's accepted as truth. This could be accepted, however, as Adam Strange was also a member of the Justice League, and if you have Superman vouching for you, then surely whatever you say you did, you did.

It's also strange because Adam's sole method of getting back and forth to Rann was the Zeta Beam. He always had to calculate down to the second where and when it would strike so he could be there, then stay on Rann until the effects of the beam wore off and he returned to Earth. And yet, in this first issue, his wife Allana is with him, here on Earth, and quite accustomed to hotels, television interviews, and other aspects of Earth culture. Sure, they could have caught a rocket from a passing Thanagarian, but it's left unexplained as to exactly how she came to Earth with him.

It's further Strange that Adam is receiving political accolades for his service. Adam is seen receiving a Congressional Medal of Honor -- for fighting solo against a tribe on an alien planet. That is surely a puzzle, because Adam was not there at the behest of his country, and was not active duty military. So yes, that's far more than passing strange.

But the real strangeness is intended to be the murder mystery. When Adam is confronted in a book signing line by someone who accuses him of war crimes against the Pykkts, the encounter goes viral -- more so when the man who accosted Adam shows up dead, his head blown off by a ray gun. Adam is immediately a suspect, and is eager to clear himself. But the World's Greatest Detective turns him down, while referring him down a different path.

All of which leads me to question whether any of this is real. (Fool me once, Mister Miracle. Fool me twice...won't get fooled again.) The florid speeches Adam makes, the blood-spattered family photo he turns over, the presence of Alanna and her impossible acclimation to Earth (and American) culture. Either Adam is in captivity from the Pykkts and under some sort of Matrix-like mental interrogation, or, (perish the thought) he hallucinated the entirety of his life on Rann and is in the middle of some kind of breakdown. Maybe he's actually dead. Or maybe it's something completely different. Whatever it is, I don't trust it. The narrator is unreliable, and what we see may not necessarily be what we see, regardless of how exquisitely rendered it is by Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner.

It's worth a follow for the first few issues to see where things lead. But, like Bert in Mary Poppins: "Can't put me finger on what lies in store. But I fear what's to happen all happened before."

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0