Review – Strange Adventures #9: Crime and Punishment

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Strange Adventures #9 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Strange Adventures #9 – Tom King, Writer; Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Artists

Ray – 9.5/10

Ray: This is probably going to be the most divisive issue of Strange Adventures, and I think that’s entirely by design. Tom King has never been one to shy away from tricky concepts, but this issue feels personal in a way none has since The Sheriff of Babylon. While King wasn’t a soldier in a war, he spent years close to war and has likely been grappling with the same question this issue is—what is the defining line between a war hero and a war criminal? The Justice League’s report has come out, and it condemns Adam Strange for atrocities committed in the Rannian war against the Pykkts. Those same aliens have now come to attack Earth, wiping out Phoenix and continuing their advance, and that either proves Adam’s point or places the blame directly on him for these horrors. The tension between Adam and his fellow heroes as he confronts them over their decision to expel him from the league is excellently done and provides some of the issues’ best scenes.

Grief. Via DC Comics.

But the creative team is smart enough that they don’t just tell us about Adam’s supposed crimes—they show them to us, in brutal form. The Rannian segments start with Adam and Alanna mourning their daughter in a painful segment that sets the emotions high for this issue, and we see the Rannians take their revenge in a pair of brutal assaults that first use poison gas—something likely to be horrifying to the Justice League—and then using the very terrain against the Pykkts in a scene of mass death. The question is, what are the Pykkts and what drives them? The title has kept this close to its chest. Are they horrible, predatory invaders, or are they a thriving civilization on their own? That’s the critical question that Adam—and the public—are grappling with at the issue’s end, and it makes this one of the most morally ambiguous comics in a long time, and likely to be one of the best stories Adam Strange has ever had.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

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