Strange Adventures is a 12-issue miniseries by Tom King (Batman (Rebirth), Mister Miracle (2017)), Mitch Gerads, and Evan "Doc" Shaner as a part of the DC Black Label imprint. While the pair's last collaboration focused on the New Gods, this is a look into another one of DC's space heroes: Adam Strange.
Adam Strange is a man of two worlds: Earth and the alien planet Rann.
With the constant conundrum of being warped back and forth between the two planets due to the fickle Zeta-Beam and most recently partaking in an alien war on Rann with the Pykkts, the life of Adam is hardly one of dull moments...or so it was.
Adam has recently retired to Earth with his beloved wife Alanna, where he has written a memoir of his escapades on Rann and is on tour to promote it while signing copies. But the good times and good news come to a screeching halt when a man angrily confronts Adam over what happened on Rann. To make matters worse, that same man was later found murdered not long after by a space gun.
For sure, Adam is positive he didn't kill the man. But it still begs the question: if he didn't pull the trigger, who did? Exactly what happened on Rann? Is Adam Strange a war hero or a war criminal?
Only Mister Terrific can figure out the truth...but what he finds out may hit more than a few nerves with Adam and Alanna.
- Adaptational Jerkass: Played with regarding Alanna. The flashbacks have her behaving like previous appearances of the character, while the present day segments have her smoking and threatening the other heroes behind Adam's back.
- Arc Words: "Five... Four... Three... Two... One."
- Adaptational Villainy: Adam Strange himself, according to Mr. Terrific's letter in issue 10.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Issue 6 ends with Mr. Terrific asking one to Alanna. It causes her to stammer:Mr. Terrific: Let me ask you: after Adam returned, gave you the news... Where'd you bury your daughter's body?Alanna: What? I... There wasn't a body. She was... The Pykkts are... There was no body. We put up a...just a small...monument.
- Art Shift: The book switches between art styles frequently. Scenes occurring on Earth are drawn by Mitch Gerads while scenes on Rann are by Evan "Doc" Shaner. This also extends to the covers, which have Doc Shaner doing fantastical covers and Gerads doing gritty ones. Issue 10's last flashback panel has the color fading away to symbolize the illusion falling apart.
- Asshole Victim: A guy screams at Adam for his actions on Rann...and gets his head blown away.
- Author Avatar: There are a lot of notable comparisons to be made between Adam and Tom King. After years "in service" as Rann's hero, Adam had returned to Earth to become a successful author, much like how King returned home from CIA work to devote his focus to writing.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Maybe not evil (maybe), but being tortured by the Pykkts is when Adam switches from fighting against the Pykkts to committing war crimes against them. Though it apparently does make him think it's a great idea to haggle with them and use his own daughter as a bargaining chip.
- Bitch Slap: Issue 4 has Sardath giving one to Mr. Terrific when the latter asks where Aleea Strange is. Mr. Terrific responds with a slap hard enough to knock Sardath onto the floor.
- Boom, Headshot!: The guy that yells at Adam gets his head blown clean off his neck, complete with a large amount of blood on the floor.
- Cavalry Refusal: Issue 4's flashbacks throw Adam in the wringer but HARD. He calls for Hal Jordan AND Superman to give him a ride to Rann. For Hal, it's due to the Guardians of the Universe dictating that the Green Lantern Corps' stance on the Rann-Pykkt war was total neutrality. In Superman's case, it's because Mongul was coming to Earth, and just getting to Rann would leave Earth wide open. Needless to say, Adam is more than a little sore about both declinations.
- Cigarette Chomper: Alanna smokes almost all the time in the present-day. It's perhaps yet another example of how different the war with the Pykkts have made her.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The flashbacks in Issue 7 show what happened to Adam when he was captured by the Pykkts for a few months. Exposed to the Tower of Rainbow Doom, which overcharged his ability to teleport through zeta beams, Adam was teleported to random locations around the universe over and over, with no rest in-between. We see him go inside a volcano, underwater, in the middle of a frozen tundra, and most cruelly back to his family before he's teleported away again. His captor idly mentions that, when he was put through the same process, he was teleported inside an animal's stomach.
- Continuity Nod: Tom King has went on the record saying the African-American woman who gets her copy of Adam's book signed is the same one who asked Mister Miracle and Big Barda for a selfie.
- Deconstruction: Just like how Tom King and Mitch Gerads' last DC series gave the New Gods a reality check, Strange Adventures doesn't hesitate to show the dark side of Adam Strange's spacefaring escapades.
- Death of a Child: Adam and Alanna's daughter, Aleea. Issue 2 reveals that Adam's book is dedicated to her memory. Except Mister Terrific begs to differ. And Issue 10 confirms it was faked.
- Disproportionate Retribution: While the angry guy yelling at Adam was not cool, getting his head blown to bits is not exactly an ideal punishment.
- Dramatic Irony: Issue 5 ends with Adam saying Alanna is enlisting heroes to stand against the Pykkt invasion of Earth and stresses the importance of having everyone on the same page, as it was on Rann. In truth, Alanna is threatening Mr. Terrific, who is most definitely not on the same page as her or Adam.
- Driving Question: The story in general asks "Exactly what happened on Rann?" Issue 2 asks another one: "If Aleea isn't dead, what happened to her?"
- Femme Fatale: When Adam isn't around, Alanna behaves like one in the present, at least when it comes to Mr. Terrific's investigation on Adam. Issue 4 alone sees her already having broken and entered Mr. Terrific's house as he comes back from Rann, casually. It's a ginormous contrast to how she behaves in the flashbacks...
- I Did What I Had to Do: Alanna and Adam's attitude to everything they did in the Rann-Pykkt War is this. When it comes to the Pykkt invasion of Earth, Alanna goes on TV and suggests they need to adopt this attitude a second time.
- Mr. Fanservice: Issue 2 has a good amount of Mister Terrific shirtless and working out.
- Mood Whiplash: Similar to Mister Miracle using the ham-tastic narration from the original run by Jack Kirby, Strange Adventures has characters speaking more bombastically in the flashbacks while the present-day counterparts speak much more casually.
- Mythology Gag: The two frogs Aleea have (had?) in Issue 5 are based on her dad's pet frogs Stranger and Strangest, who have only ever appeared in the DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia.
- Never Found the Body: At the end of issue 6, Mr. Terrific asks where Alanna where she and Adam buried Aleea. Alanna says there was no body and they just built a small monument in her honor.
- Obligatory War Crime Scene: Issue 9 shows a flashback of Adam attacking a Pykkt base. He commits two war crimes: using a chemical weapon, and then killing any Pykkts that tried to flee the base after it was detonated (no quarter). It's also confirmed that wasn't the only incident.
- Precious Photo: Adam has one of him with Alanna and their daughter, Aleea. It's splattered with blood...
- The Reveal: Quite a few.
- Issue 2: Mr. Terrific bluntly tells Batman that Aleea isn't dead, much to the latter's surprise.
- Issue 7: Adam did indeed kill the guy who yelled at him at the book signing. Unfortunately, it was a cruel misunderstanding as Adam thought he was a Pykkt scout in disguise and shot him, only to discover he really was just a regular human. But it also turns out he was Right for the Wrong Reasons as there is indeed a Pykkt invasion of Earth underway, just completely unconnected to the bookstore incident.
- Issue 10: Mr. Terrific reveals to Alanna via letter that Adam arranged a deal with the Pykkts saying that the former will leave Earth wide open for the former to conquer on the condition that they let him win the war on Rann. And Aleea was Adam's collateral.
- One of the people asking Adam to sign his book in Issue 1 is also buying a copy of Mister Miracle and The Sheriff of Babylon, both titles also by Tom King and Mitch Gerads.
- The moment where Sardath slaps Mr. Terrific and and gets slapped back for his troubles resembles a similar beat in In the Heat of the Night.
- Spiritual Successor: To Tom King and Mitch Gerads' earlier series, Mister Miracle.
- Symbol Swearing: Applied liberally in the series. Subverted when Alanna gives her speech regarding the Pykkts' ruthlessness in issue 5.
- Synchronous Episodes: The plot occurring in the present runs like this. One issue is dedicated to Adam and Alanna while the next issue is concentrated on Mr. Terrific. For example: Issue 4 (focused on Mr. Terrific and his trip to Rann) and Issue 5 (in which Adam and Alanna are preparing to defend Earth from the Pykkts) happen around the same time as each other.
- Take That, Critics!: In Issue 5, Adam notes that he's the target of gossip and controversy while there were other heroes like Booster Gold out there that have more unstable personalities and probably deserve more attention than he does. Adding to the Author Avatar idea above, this sounds a lot like Tom King asking the critics of his more recent and controversial works if they don't have anything better to do.Alanna: Adam, you shouldn't listen to that crap. It's toxic.
- Tranquil Fury: In Issue 10, after reading Mr. Terrific's letter, Alanna goes through an entire day of meeting the President, be in press conferences, and taking photos with soldiers until she punches her bathroom mirror and shoot a Death Glare at an unaware Adam at the end.
- Wham Line: In Issue 2, Mr. Terrific reveals something that shocks Batman himself:Mister Terrific: [Adam] writes that his daughter is dead. She is not. I doubt this is the only lie.
- Wolverine Publicity: Played with in regards to DC's superheroes. The story kicks off when Adam asks Batman to investigate him and make sure that Adam didn't kill the angry man, but Batman passed on it, due to the pair being good friends. To compensate, Batman enlists Mister Terrific to take over. Throughout the series, other DC heroes like Superman, Hawkman, and Martian Manhunter make appearances.
- Written by the Winners: Implied as such by the fact that Rann is suspiciously insistent on the Pykkts' barbarism and villainy in both behavior and culture. Mister Terrific doesn't buy it for a minute, especially when he manages to learn their language while Rann claims it's too complicated and chaotic for them to translate.
- Batman and Mr. Terrific interrogate a Pykkt captive after they invade Earth who states that Adam Strange and Rann inflicted genocide on his people, including Adam Strange personally executing their noncombatant women and children.