Sunday, 23 May 2010


 An Amazon 5-star review.

Celebration of the super-hero comic.

While clearly having its own individual voice, as if anything written by Alan Moore wouldn't, this is a tribute to the comic book and to super hero comic books in particular. The range of styles Moore manages to adopt, while never being less than clearly Tom Strong is impressive and never less than great fun. Opening with a time travel paradox story, which manages to include funny animals and also reference the Shazam Captain Marvel, Moore moves on to a 3 short story Science Fiction anthology comic which also includes a Wally Wood EC pastiche before a chapter which echoes the Fantastic Four. We then have a 3-part alien invasion story which brings back several characters from the previous volume including the 3-eyed alien abductees and introduces a new cowboy hero. Following another short story chapter which has one illustrated by legend Howard Chaykin, we arrive at the book's most impressive sequence, an alternate reality in which Tom Strong's father was Tomas and he becomes Tom Stone. The mixed-race Stone has a different attitude towards things and actually befriends Tom Strong's nemesis Saveen, convincing him to become a science-hero and his partner. Stone marries Greta and Saveen marries Dahlua and the scene is set for tragedy as the title of the third part 'Crisis In Infinite Hearts' suggests. This is an emotionally powerful tale and far less playful than the other stories as it is played completely straight to reveal another side of comics that Moore is celebrating. The final story is a two parter written by Peter Hogan and is fine but much less impressive than the one which preceded it.

Throw in a 20 page Chris Sprouse sketchbook and we have in the slightly oversize format one of the most fun packages around. The Tom Strong stories are Moore being playful and having a lot of fun but please note that this isn't the same thing as being flippant. There is real heart and emotion here which gives the stories a depth which would be lacking and otherwise reduce them to no more than pastiche. It may not rank as essential Alan Moore but you'll be missing out on a great deal of sheer enjoyment if you don't give it a try. 

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