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Top TenWriter: Alan Moore

Artists: Chris Sprouse (illustrator) Al Gordon (illustrator)

Publisher: America's Best Comics

Synopsis: Born on the stroke of midnight 1900, and raised on the far-flung island of Attabar Teru as part of a rather clinical experiment conducted by his scientist father, Tom Strong grew up in a high-gravity chamber, giving him inordinate strength. Combined with his father's inventive genius and the Goloka Root which confers long life, Tom has been travelling the world, having adventures, and righting wrongs with his extended family for a century now...but as the millenium approaches, it seems that all Tom's old enemies are coming out of the woodwork.

How Is It?: Alan Moore's (yes, him again) attempt to revitalize an old-fashioned comics style that's been unused for a while now generally succeeds, though I do have reservations. Tom is basically a nod to Doc Savage, or to a lesser degree characters like Tintin or Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge. They weren't superheroes; instead they were adventurers with families, a kind of celebrity, and long-range goals to make the world a better place. And, of course, the fan clubs (usually with their own decoder ring). All this stuff is great; the one small flaw is the fact that we're picking up after a century of Tom's adventures, which neccessitate flashbacks in almost every issue--in fact, the stories are usually built around them. For some reason this "imaginary depth" doesn't work as well as it does in, say, Astro City, and at times Tom's world seems a bit of an ungainly cross between superhero and "boys' own" adventures. That's a fairly minor complaint, though. For the most part this is a really fun book, with a cheerful, non-ironic salute to the same tradition of Indiana Jones. The artwork is done in a spare, crisp style that's possibly the most appealling of the ABC line, and which deserves extra credit for the way it has to keep changing to incorporate the different periods and styles in which Tom's adventures have supposedly been told.

Tom Strong

Book Two

Synopsis: Tom and his family embark on a series of adventures, including a run-in with a school of VERY hard knocks, a vacation in outer space, and an array of Teslas from alternate dimensions. There's also a run-in with Paul Saveen at the tower at the end of time, and an encounter with Tom Strange, an alternate version of Tom from a faraway planet.

How Is It?: This isn't really a coherent story, just a compilation of issues. And each issue of Tom Strong usually compiles at least three stories, in old-fashioned comics style (which I find kind of charming). So this is more like a short story collection than a novel. Tom Strong has really grown on me; I'm getting more of what Moore is trying to do with this series. This time out we explore more of Tom's fascinating backstory, of which there's supposedly 100 years worth. I especially liked the bit about the "cosmic journey" Tom took to "find himself" in the 60s (heh heh). It's good, old-fashioned fun that explores stuff we haven't seen in comics for decades, but with a modern twist.

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