Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tom Strong's Terrific Tales Book One Hardcover Review

Tom Strong's Terrific Tales Vol. 1
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
180 pages
$24.99 (2004) Hardcover
$17.99 (2005) Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781401200299

Contributors: Alan Moore, Steve Moore, Leah Moore, Art Adams, Paul Rivoche, Alan Weiss, Jerry Ordway, Jason Pearson, Jaime Hernandez, Sergio Aragones, Wildstorm FX, David Baron, Giulia Brusco, Jeremy Cox, Matt Hollingsworth, Alex Sinclair, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein

Reprints: Tom Strong's Terrific Tales #1-6 (of 12)

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:
  • "Tom Strong in the Dark Inside" - Tom investigates a massive crater in the Arctic where a group of Nazis disappeared.  What is the chilling secret of the dark inside?
  • "Live Culture" - Tom and Ursula X investigate a Russian space station which has gone offline. They encounter a bizarre crystalline structure and deadly organisms within.  
  • "The Rule of Robo-Saveen!" - Tom consults for a movie based on his battles with arch-nemesis Saveen.  
  • "Leap of Faith" - Tom must save a suicidal high-rise (of course) construction worker.  Can the big shot science-hero find a common ground with the common man?
  • "Collect the Set!" - A trading card photo shoot captures a sneak attack on the Strong Family!
  • "Goloka: The Heroic Dose" - Tom takes a dose of concentrated Goloka and has a massive reality trip as he ponders the universe.
Young Tom Strong grew up on the island Attabar Teru after his parents died in a volcanic earthquake.  He was taken in by the island's natives - the Ozu tribe and particularly by Chief Omotu.  Tom balances the antiseptic teachings of his parents with the natural existence of the Ozu.  
  • "Young Tom Strong and the Fiend of the Forgotten Shore" - Chief Omotu forbids Tom from going to the Forgotten Shore, a beach on the other side of the island with an old shipwreck.  Of course Tom can't resist investigating and discovers a secret of the Ozu, but first he must face a fearsome entity.
  • "Young Tom Strong and the Thunderbirds of Attabar Teru" - Tom is put through a rite of passage test where he must slay a deadly and massive thunderbird.  Can the ten-year-old Tom best the fearsome bird?
  • "Young Tom Strong and the View Beyond the Veil" - Tom partakes of another Ozu rite of passage.  This time he ingests a large dose of goloka root and slips into a coma.  He sees visions of his origins, but will Chief Omotu revive him before it's too late?
  • "Young Tom Strong and the Fairy of the Foam" - Tom is back at the Forgotten Shore and encounters a beautiful girl from the sea.  He is instantly smitten and must see her again despite Chief Omotu's warnings about the underwater people's dislike for humans!
  • "Young Tom Strong and the Mysteries of Chukulteh" - Tom spies on the rite of passage ceremony of the Ozu women and at the peril of his own life!
  • "Young Tom Strong and the Shadow of the Volcano" - Tom explores the volcano where his parents lost their lives and uncovers a bizarre mystery.  
Jonni Ray inherits her Uncle John's house after he passes away.  She didn't know him very well and his house is a bit strange.  It has a weird half-bridge jutting from the attic into thin air, but Jonni decides to stay and the adventures begin.
  • "The Halfway House" - Jonni Ray is startled by a massive animal who bursts into her Uncle John's house and races to the attic.  She follows and is mysteriously transported to the future where her Uncle was a hero called Johnny Future.  She inherits his duties and tools to protect the future as "Jonni Future!"
  • "Moth-Women of the Myriad Moons" - Jonni must face the deadly creatures who killed her uncle in her first mission.  How can she possibly stop the Moth-Women without any real training?
  • "...The Seraglio of the Stars!" - Jonni is kidnapped by the Space Panjandrum and added to his interstellar bordello.  She must mount a daring escape or become just another used up whore
  • "The Witch of the World's End!" - A trio of witch-hating religious-types from the 1800s ends up in the far-flung future where Jonni must save them from themselves.  
  • "The Garden of the Sklin" - Jonni explores a seeming garden of earthly pleasures, but it hides a dangerous secret.  

Pros: Really detailed art by Art Adams, Alan Moore's scripting/stories are good, Jonni Future's adventures include many scantily-clad women, a lot of top-notch art talent and writers, sense of fun and carefree stories
Art Adams must have had a blast drawing this story

Cons: Short story format - no plot progressions, vastly different art styles for each segment, nothing really significant happens to Tom Strong or supporting cast, no real danger in Young Tom Strong's stories - he grows up to be Tom Strong after all, some of the short stories are duds

Mike Tells It Straight: I reviewed all six trade paperback volumes of the first Tom Strong series (check out the list of reviews to see them) and enjoyed them.  In the later volumes Alan Moore enlisted a plethora of guest writers/artists for various stories about Tom Strong and his supporting cast.  Terrific Tales is an anthology book featuring three stories per issue, typically: Alan Moore scripts a grown-up Tom Strong tale with a rotating artist list, Steve Moore writes/Art Adams draws a Jonni Future story, and Steve Moore writes/Alan Weiss draws a Young Tom Strong chapter.

The anthology format has its ups and downs - some of the stories are duds, but you aren't stuck with several crappy issue in a row.  The art is fairly all over the place, but Art Adams does some really impressive work on Jonni Future.  He and Steve Moore were really bucking to spark a solo book for her from the looks of it.  Too bad, it's some of the best work I've seen him produce.

If you liked the first Tom Strong series then this follow up anthology book will take you right back.  The Jonni Future stories are solid eye-candy and Alan Moore puts out a few interesting chapters.  The Young Tom Strong stories are innocent and carefree.  Overall a decent book, but the lack of a continuous story progression weakens my recommendation.  The only new bits are Jonni Future's titillating exploits.  I'll check out the second and final volume next, but expect exactly the same.
From left: Young Tom Strong, Telsa Strong, Tom Strong,
Jonni Future, and Jermaal

TO BUY and Recommendations: