Monday, March 29, 2021

Strange Adventures #9 Review


Is There a War Crimes Tribunal for Intergalactic 

Written By: Tom King
Art By: Mitch Gerards, Evan "Doc" Shaner
Letters By: Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: March 30, 2021

Adam Strange has turned full-on war criminal to destroy the Pykkts. Publicly, it's in service of the Earth to save it from a hostile alien invasion. Privately, it's revenge for the death of his daughter. The Justice League has banned him and disavowed his actions. The press supports him as a necessary evil for survival. There are no winners in this story... only loss.

Was It Good?

A broken man slaughters thousands, even some who are unarmed and have surrendered, in retaliation for his daughter. The word 'good' doesn't apply.

What's It About?

We catch up with Strange as he shoots down Pykkt ships. The voiceover is Alanna Strange in his ear telling him about a letter the Justice League has released to the press condemning Strange's actions and permanently banning him from the League. There is no formal action other than Batman submitting the League's report to the US government for investigation.

The tone of Alanna's recount and Adam's reaction give you the impression they really don't care.

Cut to the incident that sparked the letter. It's a nighttime stealth scene with a very different art style. Rather than looking like hastily filtered photo renderings, it looks like actual drawings in the night scene, so this is where the artist changeover takes place based on the multiple art credits.

Without describing the minute details, Adam Strange infiltrates a Pykkt base housing ~25 thousand individuals. He sets off gas canisters at various locations around the base. It's unclear if the gas knocks the infected out or kills them, but the effect is enough to drive the Pykkts outside the base walls. As they flee the gas, they're unarmed with hands raised for help and/or surrender.

Surprise! The gas was just the first step to drive them out into an area outside the base where a massive, deep crevice pit has been dug out and loosely camouflaged against the panic-stricken running for safety. Adam Strange successfully kills them all.

When the stories reach Earth and the Justice League issue their condemnation, Alanna meets the press and tells everyone the truth. They did it. They're glad they did it. And they'll keep killing Pykkts to make sure they never harm another soul again.

The narrative is occasionally intercut with Adam Strange interacting with assorted Leaguers after the fact. Batman asks if everything the League stood for meant nothing. Superman is adamant that Adam's actions fly in the face of everything Superman has fought against all his life. The general attitude towards Adam is shame and disappointment.

In the end, older, bearded Adam talks with Alanna as they continue to mourn the loss of their daughter. He promises they'll see her someday in another world. With three more issues to go, this isn't the end but it appears to be building towards something.

Final Thoughts:

Strange Adventures #9 is a tragedy. The art is great, as it has been the whole series, but the overall tone is just depressing. So, so depressing. I understand that Tom King is playing this space opera through the lens of the real horrors that happen when soldiers go to war. I understand that one countries hero is another countries most vile villain, but seeing it play out through Adam Strange just feels wrong. Maybe that's the real point. Still, we've seen this before from King and his over-reliance on crumbs of story colored with massive depression is getting old and feels a bit out of place now that DC seems to be trying to forget about stuff like Heroes in Crisis and the like. Strange Adventures #9 might make you think, but I think it just isn't for me anymore.


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