In our modern society, it feels like the blurred line between fact and fiction has grown exponentially. The truth just simply isn’t as clear cut as it used to be in our everyday lives, and now, these complexities of truth have found their way into the DC Universe.
Strange Adventures #1, by Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner, digs deep into this gray area of uncertainty that’s now plaguing Adam Strange and his entire reputation as a hero. His efforts are being put under national scrutiny after being accused of committing intergalactic war crimes. Adam is now left in an incredibly difficult position that won’t be easy for him to get out of and the only thing that can save him is the truth.
That a once highly esteemed and beloved American war hero is now at risk of losing his entire reputation is quite shocking. But I have two words for you to consider: viral video.
Any video that goes viral on Facebook or Twitter can destroy someone’s reputation and career within the span of a day (maybe even quicker). Even without the full details, context and circumstances—or perhaps because those things are lacking—people are quick to make assumptions about what’s factual. It’s crazy how public opinion can be swayed so easily, even when there’s no proof to back it up.
Unfortunately for Strange, he’s stuck in a situation where a viral video showcasing an altercation between him and one of his critics has spread to the masses. And now that his critic has suddenly been murdered in cold blood, people are quick to point their fingers at Strange for being the one responsible for it.
We frequently see people turn their backs and “cancel” celebrities and key public figures all the time. Sometimes, they are more than deserving of it, but other times assumptions get the best of people too hard and too fast and reputations are brought to the brink of collapse for no valid reason. This is where the assumptions we make of the truth can become harmful.
What Strange is going through perfectly mirrors what many celebrities and political figures find themselves going through these days, making Strange Adventures very of the moment. Tom King scripts a brief-but-memorable press conference and absolutely nails it, revealing how even after addressing the issue at hand, news and media outlets still attack, reject or question everything. However, the hero twist to this all puts the stakes even higher considering that there may be otherworldly factors that are soon to get caught in the middle of it all.
As a reader, you might think, “Oh, well he’s a superhero so that means there’s no way he could’ve killed this man, right?”
Well, after reading this first issue, I can’t really say for sure that I trust Strange’s narrative. Even though I really want to, I feel like some things just feel…a bit off.
There are always two sides to every story. As Tom King describes it (specific to Strange Adventures), there’s the story we tell others and the story that others tell about us. This particular story is told in a split narrative that jumps between the past and present. So far, the flashbacks depict Strange’s time on the planet Rann where he valiantly fought against the Pykkts. Shaner’s art style and King’s writing used in these flashbacks feels very retro and old-school. The way Strange speaks feels heroic in a sort of campy way, as if everything is over-romanticized and exaggerated.
Though, this is exactly how I’d envision a hero talking about their most triumphant moment. Of course they’d exaggerate the stakes at hand and make a show of how smart and in control of everything they were. Strange’s flashbacks feel as if they were pulled straight out of the pages of the memoir that he wrote. This is the way he views himself and his story, and this is what he wants others to see. But something still tells me that there’s a lot more to his backstory that we have yet to see, and maybe not everything is as heroic as he’s made it out to seem.
There’s also this major contrast between the tone of his flashbacks and the tone exuded in the panels that depict his present-day life. It seems as if he’s two completely different people, which again might symbolize the contrast between myth and reality.
Overall, I’m rooting for Strange and hoping that he isn’t the war criminal that everyone assumes him to be. I also hope that he isn’t responsible for the murder of an innocent man. Ultimately though, Strange’s story isn’t going to have an easy answer. Because of all the assumptions made by the people in this comic (and by readers like you and me), there’s no knowing for sure what this journey to discover the truth will mean for him.
As a side note, outside of surface-level details, I didn’t really know much about Mister Miracle until I read Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Eisner-winning series. After reading it, I came to admire and appreciate the character so much more. So far, Strange Adventures is giving me the same vibe with Adam Strange. Again, I’m not super familiar with the character, but I’m already seeing this new dimension to him that I can’t wait to unpack as the series goes along. And I can’t wait for you to experience it as well. We’re definitely in for a hell of a ride!
Lissete Gonzalez writes about film, TV and comics for DCComics.com. Follow her on Twitter at @lissete74.