Review: ‘Strange Adventures’ #5 Is Dominated By Alanna Strange
by Olly MacNamee
Strange Adventures #5 continues to flash back to Adam’s adventures as Rann’s hero while in the present day, and grounded on Earth, Adam faces a more and more isolated life as Mister Terrific continues to investigate him and instructs the Justice League to have no communication with him whatsoever. And through out all – as is Tom King’s way – we have a strong, confident woman supporting him and offering advice. Just as she does on Rann. But, for what ultimate purpose?
On Rann, and with a lifetime’s worth of experience, Alanna comes across as more informed, as you would expect, but it’s a trait she is showing more and more on Earth too, where one would think she would be the fish out of water, and not her husband, who continues to flail with worry and self-doubt. A shadow of his former self. While Adam continues to worry, she remains cool as a cucumber and never anything but level-headed. And, since last issue, I have become more and more intrigued by Alanna’s role in this unfolding drama. She is most definitely the brains behind the acts of heroism that Adam is celebrated for. The true hero, maybe, of this whole story? She certainly n=now how to get her own way, that’s for sure.
Certainly Alanna has grown into her part and her domineering character is shown to full effect in this issue as she shuts down a rather stuffy meeting in which J’onn J’onzz tries to remain optimistic in the face of a possible alien threat. Her outsider knowledge of this threat puts her right in the heart of power and calling it out. Adam, in comparison, looks less and less the hero with each panel. This is most definitely Alanna’s issue.
And yet, it’s Adam Strange who is deferred to on Rann, it is Adam who stands as their greatest hero and now, here on Earth, it’s Adam the President wants to lead a task force against the aline threat. A threat Alanna knows far more about. Like James Brown sang, this really is still a man’s world, isn’t it?
But, we know King enjoys writing strong women, women who often dominate their partners, just as Alanna does here. In Mitch Gerads hands, Alanna comes across as a Silver Screen siren, a Lauren Bacall for our modern age. No more so than when she takes time out for a cigarette, dressed to impress, as she looks over Washington. Her calculating intellect seems to always be one or two steps ahead of other people’s thinking and even now she placates a worried Adam with calm, cool confidence. But, is this coolness something else? In a flashback sequence nearer the end of the book, Alanna shows exactly how pragmatically cold she can really be. And, that only raises more questions for this reader, and more mysteries in space. Is everything as it first seems on Rann as the various factions unite against the common threat of the Pykkts. Just as the world is setting up a Task Force led by Adam Strange here on Earth to face the exact same supposed threat and thereby deflect from his current legal worries? It just feels far too convenient doesn’t it?
It would seem that, once again, Alanna gets what she wants with great skill and dexterity. By the end of this book, is it coincidence or design that sees Adam’s fortunes change? Lady Macbeth famously gave her husband the plan to assassinate King Duncan. Is Alanna any different, I wonder? And if so, I imagine Alanna will have the mental fortitude Lady Macbeth never could. I think Alanna sleeps very well at night, regardless of her actions. Whatever they end up being revealed to have been. I just can’t help shake this uneasy feeling I have about her. And, while Evan Shaner still brings that Silver Age classicism to the scenes on Rann he illustrates, there’s less of an optimistic shine to it all with these newfound bad feelings I have for Alanna.
Nearly half-way through the series and I am all in on this series. Is Adam the war hero we all suppose him to be? And, what of Alanna and her true intentions? I’ll just have to read on and find out.
Strange Adventures #5 is one of this series’ strongest issues and available now from DC Comics//DC Black Label