Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tom Strong Book Three Hardcover Review

Tom Strong Vol. 3
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
136 pages
$24.95 (2004) Hardcover
$17.95 (2004) Trade Paperback
$39.99 (2010) Deluxe Hardcover Vol. 2
ISBN 761941242101

Contributors: Alan Moore, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Howard Chaykin, Shawn McManus, Steve Mitchell, and Leah Moore

Reprints: Tom Strong #15-19

Synopsis: Tom Strong is the science-hero champion of Millennium City and has been for the past 100 years. His life is filled with constant daring adventures and the bold tales chronicled in this collection include:

  • "Ring of Fire" - the Salamander returns to kidnap Tesla and Tom must rescue her from the would-be suitor! 
  • Four-part story
    • "Some Call Him the Space Cowboy" - we're introduced to the Weird Rider, roaming interstellar cowboy.  He visits Venus and encounters the Modular Man before landing in Millennium City.  Tom Strong rallies to investigate the strange visitor
    • "Gone to Croatoan" - the Weird Rider recounts his origin which is linked to the abduction of the Devil's Footstool one hundred years ago.  An extraterrestrial threat is heading for earth and Tom must gather the help if the human race is to survive
    • "Ant Fugue!" - Tom and the Rider rally help from the Devil's Footstool in the form of the Stardust Cowboys, visit Venus to palaver with the Modular Man, and then talk with another mystery ally.  Svetlana X and the Strongmen of America show up to contribute too.  The group assails the impending extraterrestrial armada, but the Strongmen tag along and get in a pickle
    • "The Last Roundup" -  it's a battle royale in space to stop the aliens from devastating earth and rescuing the Strongmen from their clutches.  Can the combined force of Tom's family and friends overcome to save the day?
  • "Electric Ladyland" - Tom must rescue Dhalua from a secret society of women.  The women need help with a chemical that turns men into women
  • "Bad to the Bone" - we get to see the final fate of Paul Saveen
  • "The Hero-Hoard of Horatio Hogg!" - Tom and Tesla visit a comic convention and get trapped in a lunatic's comic book
Pros: Moore's writing, Svetlana X is hilarious! She actually made the Strongmen of America mildly tolerable, sketchbook pages

Cons: Guest artists/stories are not as good, the Strongmen of America are still pretty lame, the price for the trade paperback version jumps considerably compared to the previous two softcover collections

Mike Tells It Straight: Once again the story formula changes for the third volume as the guest artists and anthology stories reduce in frequency. Each volume seems to have one multi-part anchor story.  This time earth and Tom's family are threatened directly. The first story with the Salamander reminds me a bit of the FF's relationship with Namor and a good addition. Moore begins tying many of the previous sub-stories together to weave a grander tale. I can't get enough of Svetlana X after her introduction here and love her throwback Russian way of talking. Overall this volume was more cohesive than the last, but just as enjoyable.  My two major gripes are having the page count drop with the hardcover price staying the same and the softcover collection price increases.  Bah!

TO BUY and Recommendations: