Review – Strange Adventures #12: The Bitter End

Strange Adventures #12 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Strange Adventures #12 – Tom King, Writer; Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Artists

Ray – 9.5/10

Ray: As Tom King drifts further away from main-line comics and more towards Black Label, his work is getting increasingly off-center and more challenging. That’s been clear with Rorschach, but never more so than with this epic space tragedy. After an extended delay and one of the most dramatic cliffhangers we’ve had in recent memory, we’re finally at the end—and finally, everything is as it appears to be. Adam Strange, the hero of space, sold out Earth to save his daughter’s life. When his wife found out the truth, he held her at gunpoint, there was a struggle—and ultimately, he died at the point of his own gun. And now, the rest of the cast is left to pick up the pieces. Alanna Strange has always been the third lead of this title, kept at arm’s length at first, but as she teams up with Mr. Terrific to get her daughter back, she finally gets to have her own voice—and it’s near-perfect. Her barely coiled pain and rage drive this book, and the tense negotiations with the Pykkts are brutal even as we only see one side of the dialogue.

War heroes. Via DC Comics.

The Shaner segments, set in the past, are a perfect tribute to Silver Age sci-fi adventures, but they also find the characters in an odd sort of limbo. They won the war, but lost everything. Knowing what we know now, these segments as Adam gaslights her into putting the new pieces of the puzzle in place are horrifying. There is some great character work here, but it’s also a masterful work of character destruction. How are we ever supposed to look at Adam the same way in another story again? I’m assuming this is out of continuity like most Black Label books are, because it leaves multiple characters in completely different and sometimes untenable places. It’s weird, violent, tragic, and such a radical change to the world of these characters that it’s hard to imagine how DC even greenlit it. But I’m very glad they did, because it’s one of the best works of fiction about war in a long time.

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

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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