Adam Strange has written a book about his heroic exploits on the planet Rann.
But not everyone’s a fan.
The Mr Miracle creative team of Tom King and Mitch Gerads are back for another 12-issue series looking at one of DC’s fan favourite properties. And if you liked that series, you’ll probably like this first issue. Or maybe you’ll be disappointed, for essentially the same reasons.
Both books feature a hero we’ve followed in shining adventures on other worlds trying to have some kind of life on Earth. Both contrast the legend with the reality. The problems of parenthood when you have enemies everywhere hang over both Adam Strange and Scott Free. Both books feature a raven-haired wife.
OK, that last one’s a stretch, dark-haired beauties are hardly uncommon in comics. Still, this debut issue gave me major deja vu, as husband and wife heroes who should be having a terrific time in amazing landscapes look increasingly bored and grumpy in suburban North America.
Gerad’s not illustrating the whole book, Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner is also giving us full-colour art, for the sequences set on Rann – but are these scenes showing what genuinely happened, or are they the ‘lies’ Adam’s detractors believe in? Framing the sci-fi sequences in doubt rather ruins the fun, but suits the story King seems to be telling, recalling that military personnel back from Vietnam were condemned by peaceniks as murderers.
But is this where King is going? Publicising this series, he said he wasn’t going to do a grim deconstruction of Adam Strange, and condemned the Nineties mini in which Alanna died in childbirth and Adam got together with a woman he cheated on her with, the two of them raising Alanna’s baby, Aleea.
Yeah, that was a thing that happened… happily it was wiped from main continuity in Mark Waid’s JLA run. Still, this issue implies that Alanna and Adam’s daughter, the almost identically named Aleena, recently died during a conflict on Rann. Which rather throws a literal pall over proceedings.
So who knows, maybe King will lift the gloom a little more every issue, and by the end it’s established beyond doubt that Adam is a thoroughly decent fellow, not one to be brutal in a war situation.
As it is, I’m not terribly inclined to read on because 12 issues is an awful lot of potential darkness before we get to a dawn that never needed to be re-established – ignore the Rann first posited by Alan Moore in Swamp Thing, Rann is a world of wonder overseen by wise, kind Sardath who never, ever deliberately plucked Adam from Earth to to impregnate his daughter. (To be fair to Moore, he was asked by DC to set up a few things for the aforementioned mini by Richard Bruning and Adam & Andy Kubert.)
But I will give the book at least one more issue because King sets up a mystery behind ‘is Adam a ruthless killer’ and brings in a surprise guest star to look into it. Plus, we occasionally get fun bits of business like this.
Admittedly, that could be making the point that Adam would rather be off slaying the first non-humanoids he can find, but let’s say it isn’t.
I’m curious as to what did happen on Rann that brought Alanna to Earth with Adam,and would like confirmation that Aleena is, in fact, being babysat by good ol’ Grandpa Sardath.
And for goodness’ sake, how pretty is the art? It’s interesting that rather than swap assignments every few pages, Gerads and Shaner occasionally share pages… if that’s being done by swiping panels into place on a computer there’s great potential for a fun cock-up along the way. Not that I’d want that to happen, perish the thought.
I’ve nothing specific to praise about Clayton’s Cowles’ lettering; he does a fine job, that’s all I need.
The final page features a great quote from Silver Age artist Carmine Infantino on his approach to designing Rann’s capital, Ranagar. It serves as the penultimate panel, though, and acts as a story speed bump. Still, King has done it once so you can jolly well guarantee he’ll do it every issue.
My digital edition features a grim and gritty (gosh, it’s years since I’ve typed that phrase) cover by Gerads. I was expecting, as per the house ad, a half and half image by Gerads and Shaner, but it seems it’s actually a variant cover deal. I must say, I’d rather have Shaner’s happy Adam…who wants a comic that looks like your kid brother scrawled on it?
More something I appreciated than enjoyed, this is a solid start. I’d be fascinated to hear what you thought.