Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tom Strong's Terrific Tales Book Two Hardcover Review

Tom Strong's Terrific Tales Vol. 2
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
176 pages
$24.99 (2005) Hardcover
$17.99 (2011) Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781401206154

Contributors: Alan Moore, Steve Moore, Art Adams, Chris Weston, Alan Weiss, Bruce Timm, Peter Bagge, Jason Pearson, Shawn McManus, Michael Kaluta, Peter Kuper, Al Milgrom, Kevin Nowlan, Andrew Pepoy, Sandy Plunkett, Steve Leialoha, Wildstorm FX, David Baron, Jeremy Cox, Lee Moyer, Phil Noto, James Rochelle, Darlene Royer, David Self, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein

Reprints: Tom Strong's Terrific Tales #7-12 (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:
  • "Blanket Shanty" - A little boy dreams and travels to Attabar Teru where he meets Tom Strong and has an adventure.
  • "G-G-Ghosts at the Gear-Stick!" - An episode of the Tom Strong Cartoon Hour! where Tom and family are tricked into an infernal drag race by Paul Saveen and his henchdog Scrappy Saveen.  Can they outrace the ghouls to save their immortal souls?
  • "Millennium Memories" - A brief history of the most outrageous events in Millennium City's history including - giant robot pugilist bouts, a blimp-jam, annual ray nights where sciencists shoot rays into the sky, magno-boot marathons, and more!
  • "Coloring Our Perceptions" - A man daydreams he is Tom Strong saving the innocent, but the reality of his actions are far more sinister!
  • "Tesla Strong - The Danger Daughter" - Tesla is visiting Attabar Teru when she is kidnapped by a big game hunter.  It seems he is collecting jungle girls to fill an illegal game preserve.  Now Tesla must team up with a bevy of beautiful jungle girls to break free.  They include Sheelagh, Queen of the Jungle, Leona of the Lions, June, Bride of Torzoon, Betty of the Jungle, and more! 
  • "The Strongs" - Tom Strong is a washed up superhero living in the suburbs after losing popularity.  He feels trapped as Dhalua nags him to do chores.  It's the end of the road for the once-proud hero!

Young Tom Strong grew up on the island Attabar Teru after his parents died in a volcanic earthquake.  He was taken in by the islands 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 Dark Gods' Gambit" - Chief Omotu's daughter Dhalua is kidnapped by an old enemy, Maktol Jun.  He has aligned himself with dark gods and wishes to sacrifice Dhalua to them.  Can Tom and the Chief rescue her in time and face down the wrath of the evil dark gods themselves?
  • "Young Tom Strong and the Memory Pit" - Tom visits the dormant volcano where his parents died and brings Dhalua along with him.  The pit holds ghost for Tom and frightens even him.  When Dhalua accidentally falls in he must face his fears and plunge in after her.
  • "Young Tom Strong and the Diary of Susan Strong" - Tom excavates the volcano where his parents died and finds his mother's diary.  What is the startling secret she kept from Tom's father, Sinclair Strong?
  • "Young Tom Strong - Return to the Reef" - Tom is a teenager and his hormones are raging.  He is now curious about the opposite sex, but is uncertain about what to do.  He goes to the Forgotten Shore to ruminate and encounters the same underwater girl he met years ago.  She is even more beautiful now and he is instantly smitten.  What happens next!?
  • "Young Tom Strong and the Flight of Fancy" - Fancy O'Keefe attempts the first non-stop flight from Millennium City to Rio de Janeiro, but crash lands on Attabar Teru.  She is terrified of the jungle natives, giant birds, and imposing volcano.  Can Tom rescue her before she gets into trouble?
  • "Young Tom Strong - Childhood's End" - Tom prepares to leave Attabar Teru and travel to Millennium City, the world of his parents.  He spend one last evening with Dhalua, but will he bring her with him?
Jonni Ray inherited her Uncle John's house and all its contents.  She barely knew her Uncle, but decides to stay.  The adventures begin when she discovers her Uncle was a time-travelling hero called Johnny Future and he chose her to be his successor.

  • "The Empress of the End" - Jonni comes back to the far-flung future Earth from her native 2003 and finds Jermaal, her sidekick, kidnapped by a death goddess.  She runs a highly profitable religion preaching the ecstasy of dying.  Can Jonni save Jermaal in time?
  • "The Masque of the Moonjacker" - Jermaal tells Jonni how the Earth's moon was stolen many years ago by Endymion Sin, the Moonjacker.  She visits him to get it back, but faces a fiendishly sublte trap!
  • Two-part story:
    • "Twice in Time!" - Jonni battles Cancer Blue, a sentient cancer living in an android body, who wants to travel back to Jonni's time to infect the livelier inhabitants of her era.
    • "A Cure for Cancer" - Cancer Blue has used the Time Bridge to travel to Jonni's era of 2003.  Now Jonni must travel back to stop her!
  • "Upon the Bridge of Time" - Jonni is crossing the Time Bridge when she meets her dead Uncle John.  He's younger and still alive.  The two get a chance to talk and become friends.  
  • "The Unfairest of Them All" - Jonni faces Mirror-Mirror, an alien who creates perfect duplicates and uses them for nefarious deeds.  She must stop her own duplicate, but will Jermaal be able to tell who the real Jonni is to save her?

Pros: Some interesting stories, Alan Moore scripts all of the Tom Strong tales with a rotating list of top artists, Art Adams does some excellently detailed work on Jonni Future (which include many scantily-clad women), finish to Young Tom Strong tales was good

Cons: Coloring is a bit off on the first half of the stories as the usual blacks are overlaid by the colors - must have been a trend in computer coloring at the time (fortunately only for a couple issues on some stories), a few stories are duds, rotating group of artists makes for jarring transition between stories, Art Adams gets fill-in artists and inkers for his Jonni Future stories

Mike Tells It Straight: The final volume of Tom Strong's Terrific Tales is a mixed bag (and includes the irreverent Peter Bagge).  The Tom Strong stories scripted by Moore were 50:50 hit-or-miss.  I liked the Tesla Strong story with Bruce Timm, final issue story with Peter Bagge, and Millennium story with Michael Kaluta.  The other stories were not as good, but felt like an experiment (I guess Moore still gets kudos for working outside of the box).

Steve Moore and Art Adam's Jonni Future stories seemed to suffer a bit as Adams lost some steam and had fill-in help.  The stories were also of differing quality.  I liked the Young Tom Strong stories and their final resolution even though it was a predictable trip to Millennium City to start his career.  Young Tom's stories were a progression as he grew up instead of merely short stories like the other two features.

Overall I enjoyed coming back to Tom Strong's mostly bright and cheery world after reading his original series.  I think Moore has finished with the character and accomplished what he set out to do - create and tell the tales of a science-hero with all of the naive exuberance of those original books from the Golden Age of Comics.  This series wasn't the last we heard of Tom Strong - another mini-series called Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom was released in 2010, but not written by Alan Moore.

TO BUY and Recommendations: