I don’t know about you all, but I have been heavily anticipating this issue since the end of Strange Adventures #4, which teased a one-on-one confrontation between Mister Terrific and Alanna Strange. The smartest man on Earth versus Rann’s future leader. Strange Adventures has consistently been my favorite comic on the shelves since it debuted back in March and that stays the case with this issue. Spoilers for the first five issues of Strange Adventures ahead.
Adam Strange has united the peoples of Rann against the Pykkt. Despite being vastly outnumbered without aid from the Justice League, Alanna Strange is convinced that Rann will succeed. Adam may not be as hopeful as his wife, but if she can stand strong in the face of such powerful opposition, he can as well. The Pykkt may be strong, but no planet’s people are as resilient as those of Rann.
To contrast, in the modern day, Alanna Strange is less than hopeful of not just Earth’s chances against the Pykkt, but the clearance of her husband’s name as well. She confronts Mister Terrific in an effort to convince him to drop his case against Adam. Terrific refuses to truly listen to her unless she tells him the complete truth. Although hesitant at first, Alanna reveals the reason behind her and Adam’s nihilism after Rann defeated the Pykkt.
Tom King perfectly intertwines the intimidating, action-packed battle against the Pykkt perfectly with the slow subdued conversation between Terrific and Alanna. Upon seeing the hefty tolls of the battle combined with the story Alanna tells in the modern day, King allows readers to further sympathize with her. The “humanization” of Alanna Strange comes as no surprise considering how well King wrote Big Barda in his run of Mister Miracle. While coming from completely different backgrounds, it’s hard not to compare the relationship the two characters share with the leading man of the two comics. King is consistently able to make these larger-than-life characters feel like real people despite the “strange adventures” surrounding them. The characterization of both Terrific and Alanna through their conversation with each other is captivating and was worth the wait. While the dialogue is brilliant, the tone is most potent when the conversation is minimal, allowing us to bask at the amazing art.
It is artists Mitch Gerads and Doc Shaner that make this issue the masterpiece of storytelling that it is. The bright teals and deep blues of Gerads’ panels perfectly showcase the deeper character drama at work between Terrific and Alanna. Doc Shaner, on the other hand, continues that more pulpy science-fiction feel teased in his cover’s tagline “Amazing Science Fiction!” The beautiful action presented in each of his panels left my mouth agape. The two pages at the beginning and end of the issue displaying the battlefield before and after with Adam and Alanna looking over admiring the view are fantastic and show just how much the war is affecting Rann. Gerads and Shaner continue to impress with their use of color and panel layout, giving Strange Adventures its unique style.
It seems that every issue of Strange Adventures is better than the last, and this issue is no exception. I genuinely love this comic and it is absolutely a must read for anyone who loves comics.