Shiny Shelf


Tom Strong #23

By Eddie Robson on 10 November 2003

This could be the shape of things to come: the first issue of ‘Tom Strong’ to be written by someone other than Alan Moore. Moore is stepping back from mainstream comics at the end of this year, which means he’s dropping out of the ABC range (comprising ‘Tom Strong’, ‘Top 10′, Promethea’ and ‘Tomorrow Stories’) he gave rise to in 1999.

Moore has confirmed that he will write a third ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ series and I wouldn’t rule out other projects along the lines of ‘From Hell’ or ‘Big Numbers’, but he appears to have decided that he is no longer interested in writing ongoing fantasy-based books. The idea of the ABC line was to try and improve the quality of mainstream comics but the way Moore writes these days doesn’t seem suited to such a project: he prefers to take his time over each issue and this has resulted in frequent delays.

However, rather than letting all the work he’s put into building up the ABC universe go to waste, it would be great to see other writers taking over. ABC’s parent company Wildstorm has released little news on what it plans to do with Moore’s abandoned properties: ‘Tomorrow Stories’ is dead and ‘Promethea’ is winding up, but both ‘Tom Strong’ titles seem to be doing fine and there’s more to be done with ‘Top 10′ – not to mention the host of characters introduced in the ‘Terra Obscura’ mini-series.

‘Tom Strong’ #23, written by ‘Terra Obscura’ scribe Peter Hogan, suggests that Wildstorm is willing to give it a go. Only time will tell whether it’s the name ‘Tom Strong’ that’s been pulling in the punters or the name ‘Alan Moore’. Certainly, few writers could get away with issuing an ongoing light adventure series at such irregular intervals, so the first priority should be to ensure that the book comes out in a timely fashion. It needs to become as much a fixture of the weekly visit to the comics shop as mainstream DC and Marvel titles.

Second priority should be to produce substantial ongoing storylines. ‘Tom Strong’ is at its best when doing multi-part stories, since the one-offs can feel somewhat inconsequential: I fully appreciate that the idea behind doing such stories is to regain the easy accessibility of Golden Age comics, but the point remains. Besides, there’s room for short concept-driven stories in the ‘Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales’ anthology book.

Hogan has opened his account here with one of those one-off stories, and the result is a decent issue but nothing spectacular. It’s a cosmic ‘Tom Strong’ adventure set on the moon with a flashback to a younger Tom in the middle, and as such it strongly resembles the early issues – the characters themselves highlight the similarity to the Ingrid Weiss plot from issue #4. More positively Hogan has no difficulties in capturing all the regulars (although his ‘Terra Obscura’ work suggested that this would be the case) and this makes for a smooth transition between writers.

If you’re a regular ‘Tom Strong’ reader I’d encourage you to stick with it and see where Hogan takes the characters – next month he’s bringing back Tom’s dead ex-girlfriend Greta Gabriel, which has a lot of potential. If Tom Strong can establish himself independently of Alan Moore now, who knows how long he could stick around for?

Not a regular reader? Catch up with ‘Tom Strong’ Book One and Book Two from Amazon.co.uk.


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By Eddie Robson




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