You know the drill by now: the nostalgia-tinted, gold-plated space operatic adventures of Adam Strange – as depicted by the Silver Age evoking Evan Shaner – are jarringly contrasted with Adam’s down-to-Earth retirement which isn’t going as he had planned when Mister Terrific is called in to investigate him as a war criminal, leading him to Rann in this issue.
But, it’s in this issue also that the waters start to muddy further, with Hal Jordan expressing concerns over Adam’s desires to help a “farawar place, with faraway rules,” and the worry that his interference in other cultures, “can cause as much harm as (he’s) trying to do good.” You can see the clear parallels with our own Western world’s foreign policies and recent interferences in the Middle East that King was a part of during his time with the CIA. A Middle East that is still picking up the pieces tahtn;s to our involvement. Is this some kind of guilt in his part in an illegal war America and the UK started over trumped-up and ultimately fake document coming out in this series? I wouldn’t be surprised. Or, simply, and exploration of such state sanctioned actions that litter our collective histories? It certainly a topic you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be the backbone of a space-faring super hero, now is it? And, hey… who’s that tending the bar while Hal and Adam argue? he looks very familiar now doesn’t he? A King of beers maybe?
Maybe this narrow-mindedness on Strange’s part, and ignoring the advise of friends, is part of what’s got him into the mess in the first place?
As for Strange’s legacy on Rann? Well there’s more to be told there too, with suspicions being raised by Terrific directly at authority and specifically Sardath, Strange’s father-in-law. Remember, history is written by the winners, so what propaganda has arisen in the defeat of other cultures I wonder?
It’s a comic book that involves Adam Strange only in flashbacks through this issue with more focus on the investigative procedures taken by Mister Terrific at the fore. He may be absent from his own book, but that doesn’t stop everyone talking about him. The mystery is a far way from being cracked, and is only throwing up more and more red flags at the moment. Something tells me it’s going to get much darker before the dawn.
One of the more stand-out characters in this series has to be Alanna, Strange’s wife, who seems to have something of the enigmatic about her, which is only further emphasised in this issue during her brief appearance. Without her by his side, Adam does seem to be more bullish. A soldier who feels let down by those around him and feeling increasingly more isolated, while all the time being eaten up by the guilt of not participating in a war many, many light years away thanks to having to wait for the next zeta beam back. All the while, whenever we see Alanna, she seems far too cool a customer to simply be Adam’s wife and a mother (a status she brought up herself last issue, I might add).
But, what we do know of Alanna, as depicted in this series, is that she’s a lot tougher than you’d think. Her upbringing is hinted at in the last issue and here she is spared any sentimentality and, instead, seems to be imbued with a cold determination and even colder battlefield mentality. It’s interesting, then, that it’s Adam who grew to become Rann’s favorite adopted son. She reminds me of a classic crime-noir femme fatale, all smoke and mirrors with a withering gaze. Particularly in the way Mitch Gerads presents her, as though she’s stepped out of a silver screen classic of the 40s, one part Lauren Bacall another part Silk Satin (from Will Eisner’s The Spirit comics).
Looking at the last issue again – Strange Adventures #3 – and I can see even more clearly that Alanna is a lot more forthright than I had first noticed, demanding at one point for Adam to kiss her. She even happily Staes down Batman in just her swimming costume. That’s a tough power move and she pulls it off effortlessly. Throughout that issue it’s clear that she is in charge in their relationship, taking charge of any and all public appearances. What aren’t we being told of Adam’s spouse and native Rannian, I wonder? And, what of their missing daughter too?
Strange Adventures #4 is out now from DC Comics