In my review of the first issue, I wrote things like “a book that no one seems to have demanded,” “too slow and unfocused,” and “an odd book, lacking in direction and purpose.” Things have turned around in this series with a compelling lead story and a fun, random back-up... sorry, ‘co-feature.’
In the lead story, the mystery of how Synnar came to inhabit Weird’s body is solved and Synnar is neutralized by Comet. But, if that’s Synnar, who’s the seemingly godlike being that’s stealing stars and reminds Adam Strange of Weird? While this story may seem to be leading to some obvious places, it manages to throw in a few surprises along the way.
One scene that’s rather entertaining has Adam Strange, new on Hardcore Station and looking for Comet, getting robbed by a gang. Normally a hero of Rann, he barely defends himself, taken completely by surprise by their attack. Starlin’s Strange is a nice critique of the naïve hero who saves the world (and universe) countless times, but falls for simple scams by simple crooks.
While the pacing is brisk and Stalin’s character work is engaging, the book still falters at times. A revelation of the relationship between Eye and Synnar comes off as Starlin ripping off his own story featuring the connection between Thanos and Gamorra. While in Thanos’ case, there was some logic, here it’s just shoved in with no explanation at all, not even from the characters.
His writing in the Bizarro co-feature is less focused, but a lot more fun. Last issue ended with Lady Styx growing out of a gold-digging tart’s head (with another Lady Styx growing out of that one’s head!) but that character is nowhere to be found with a new focus on an assassin who unknowingly spends his off hours in a virtual reality simulator. It’s hard to see where Starlin is going with this story, but he throws in enough odd concepts to remind us how original and creative he can be.
The big surprise here is that Starlin is no longer drawing the Bizarro co-feature, with Rafael Albuquerque taking over the art chores. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually prefer this new art to Starlin’s. Albuquerque is evocative with thick, dark lines with a heavy focus on over-the-top facial expressions. His art matches the crazy feeling that Starlin is going for in ways that Starlin himself couldn’t hope to. Manuel Garcia continues to evolve on the lead feature, improving with each issue, but is overshadowed by Albuquerque here. Garcia’s pages sometimes lack a clear style and confidence with inconsistent characters, but, when he’s on, he more than delivers.
After a rough start with its first issue, “Strange Adventures” is living up to its name with weird plots that show the goofier, creative side of Jim Starlin. Each issue is an improvement on the last and the addition of Rafael Albuquerque on the Bizarro story’s art is a great move by DC.