Friday, January 7, 2011

Tom Strong Book Two Hardcover Review

Tom Strong Vol. 2
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
192 pages
$24.95 (2002) Hardcover
$14.95 (2002) Trade Paperback
$39.99 (2009) Deluxe Hardcover Vol. 1
$39.99 (2010) Deluxe Hardcover Vol. 2
ISBN 761941233093

Contributors: Alan Moore, Chris Sprouse, Al Gordon, Alan Weiss, Paul Chadwick, Gary Gianni, Russ Heath, Kyle Baker

Reprints: Tom Strong #8-14

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:
  • "Riders of the Lost Mesa" - Tom and Solomon investigate the mysterious reappearance of the Devil's Footstool Mesa and the town located at its peak.  They discover the town's inhabitants have changed considerably in the 100 years since they disappeared!
  • "The Old Skool!" - starring Timmy Turbo and the Strongmen of America.  Sue Blue gets abducted by a secret society of educators who believe corporal punishment is the only way children will learn
  • "Sparks" - Tesla investigates a volcanic eruption and discovers an underground tribe of humanoids.  Their leader shows a special interest in her and thus begins the introduction of the Salamander!
  • "Terror Temple of Tayasal!" - Tom aids in the excavation of a strange rock formation in the jungles of Guatemala. He encounters a strange creature from beyond the stars living beneath a Mayan temple
  • "Volcano Dreams" - Dhalua recounts her vision ordeal in the volcano where Tom's parents were killed when she was a teenager
  • "Flip Attitude" - Tesla faces off against Kid Tilt, the daughter of King Tilt.  She's out for revenge after her father is incarcerated
  • "Tom Strong and his Phantom Autogyro" - a spooky tale of Tom's past as he travels into the ectoplasmic underbelly of Millennium City
  • "Funnyland!" - riding his Searchboard, Tom stumbles into a cartoonized dimension where he meets Warren Strong, the Bunny of Bravery!  They must team up to save Warren's wife Patience from his arch-enemy Basil Saveen
  • "Too Many Teslas?" - unable to resist trying the Searchboard, Tesla accidentally opens a rift in spacetime and watches in horror as multiple versions of herself spill into her dimension.  The problem -- they don't get along!
  • Two-part story
    • "Strange Reunion" - Tom Strange crash lands on Earth after travelling across the galaxy from his home -- a bizarre identical Earth called Terra Obscura!  His planet faces a grave threat and he enlists Tom's aid after his own planet's greatest science-heroes failed.  Tom recollects his first encounter with the eerily identical planet
    • "Terror on Terra Obscura!" - Tom Strong and Tom Strange battle to free Terra Obscura's heroes and fight back the planetary menace holding the world hostage
  • "The Family Strong and the Tower at Time's End!" - four Strong-related heroes are called together to rescue spacetime from a nefarious legion of dimension-spanning Saveens.  They are Tom Strong, Warren Strong, Tesla Strong, and Young Tom Strong. Who is the cryptic Timekeeper?
  • "Space Family Strong" - a hilarious space vacation for the Strong Family
  • "Land of the Heart's Desire!" - Tom and Dhalua explore a planet where there merest thought or desire is fulfilled -- much to their dismay!
  • "Baubles of the Brain Bazaar!" - Tom and Johnny Future must rescue Dhalua and Jermaal (Johnny's cat-man sidekick) from being used as brain power sources in the far future
Pros: More good writing by Moore (pun!), quality art, small sketchbook section, lots of interesting concepts thrown around

Cons: Some mildly corny bits - Funnyland, Timmy Turbo and the Strongmen of America (again!), stories are still PG-rated, big cast of artists makes the book less cohesive with jarring art style changes

Mike Tells It Straight: The story formula changes in this second volume of Tom Strong, becoming more akin to an anthology book with a slew of guest artists. Most artists would jump at a chance to work with Moore and it's no surprise we see so many in this collection. This set of stories runs the gamut of old pulp themes and introduces exclamation points for every title! The art styles are radically different and it noticeably detracts from the readability of the book.  Fortunately the Terra Obscura tale anchors the volume a bit.  Moore's writing continues to be excellent and the emphasis here is on family - we get to see more of the supporting cast in the limelight. Although possessing a wide range of story quality this volume is another charming entry for Tom Strong.

TO BUY and Recommendations: