Written by Alan Moore, Peter Hogan, Geoff Johns
Artists: Jerry Ordway, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, John Paul Leon, Dave Stewart
Collects Tom Strong 20-25 with the original covers and concept art.
Publisher: America’s Best Comics
Publication date: 2005
The first three issue have an alternate universe story about Tom Stone. The rest are stand-alone issues.
Issue 20 starts in Tom’s lab where a mysterious, wounded woman is talking to a man whom we don’t see but who is clearly Tom Strong. She tells the tale of “How Tom Stone Got Started”. Tom Strong’s mother Susan had dated a genius scientist Foster Parallax. Ultimately, Susan chose Sinclair Stone but Parallax gives her a locket which contains chronium. Later, when Susan and Sinclair are boarding the ship they’ve hired, Susan is delays for just a few seconds and “Things went one way, rather than another.” The storm is slightly different and so Sinclair dies and the black sailor, Tomas Stone, is stranded with Susan. Tomas and Susan end up together and Susan gives birth to Tom Stone. They raise the boy together among the local tribe.
Tom goes to US and after he’s done a few heroic rescues, he encounters Paul Saveen. Instead of being enemies, the more compassionate Tom suggest that they work together. And so Saveen and Stone become great science heroes. They return to Attabar Teru to Tom’s parents. Tom brings his fiancee Greta Gabriel and young Dhalua is heartbroken about it. However, Paul notices that and makes his own advances on Dhalua. In the end, Dhalua marries Paul and Greta marries Tom. Tom and Paul become the premier science heroes of Millenium City. Most notable, Solomon and Pneuman are missing.
In the next issue, “Strongmen in Silvertime”, the dynamic duo continues to fight familiar foes and mostly rehabilitate them. In the finest alternative universe traditions, the characters are some what different but recognizable: Tesla is the daughter of Dhalua and Paul, and she’s dating a young man whose “father” is a villain in the usual universe. Many of Strong’s villains have joined the ranks of heroes and there’s a great parody about the usual superhero team ups and how they tend to end up fighting each other even though they’re all supposed to be on the same side.
In the final issue “Crisis in Infinite Hearts” the utopia falls because of human mistakes.
I’m a fan of alternative universes so I thoroughly enjoyed this story, although it was a shame that it had go. Of course, it’s pretty hard to write about utopias villains are rehabilitated instead of returning to their villainous ways every few issues.
Issue 23 is “Tom Strong in Moonday”. Svetlana’s husband Dimitri has disappeared during a mission on the Moon and the Strong family are helping to look for him. They are putting up sensor all over the Moon so that they can have a bio-active net which should be able to notice any living things. When putting up a sensor, Val disappears and Tesla is frantic. Meanwhile Tom tells Svetlana about his earlier journey to the Moon when he dreamed about bat people. Only, it might not have been a dream.
The story starts with Tesla and Val at the site of the monument to the Moon landing. Tesla says “They flew up here in this like, really primitive bucket. It must have taken real guts…” I think that was a real nice touch. It’s always nice to have stories in the Moon. I also enjoyed the banter between Svetlana and Tom, and earlier with Dhalua and Svetlana. I also really enjoy it that there’s no sexual tension between Svetlana and Tom.
However, I didn’t really much care for the bat people sot the story was a mixed bag for me.
Next is “Snow Queen” where a group of men are drilling a new tunnel and end up releasing a woman who seems to be made of ice. She turns out to be Tom’s first love, Greta. Tom saw how Doctor Permafrost killed her, except that he didn’t kill her, he put her on suspended animation. In 1928. Now, Greta is back and lots of things have changed in the world, but not for her. Tom tries to help her and introduced her to his family.
This was a good story and rather different for a super hero tale. It’s clearly meant to be continued at some point. It’s introspective but far too short to show us how Greta feels about the situation.
The last story is “Tom Strong’s Pal, Wally Willoughby”. Wally is a huge fan of Tom Strong and he’s come all the way from Buffalo to meet him and become Tom’s new friend. Unfortunately, he has a lot of bad luck; first the bus he’s on, has a flat tire. Then he meets a couple of kids from the Strongmen of America and asks them to introduce him to Tom Strong, but they refuse.
Meanwhile, Millenium City is plagued with rain falling from a clear sky. Then the Strongmen kids have been sucked into their yearbook alive and a giant jelly donut is blocking a high way.
This was a strange and wacky story even by Tom Strong’s standards. Unfortunately, I’ve read a couple of similar stories so it didn’t seem very original.
You get the most out of the first story, if you’ve already read previous issues and are familiar with the characters and the world. So, if you’ve read the earlier collections and enjoyed them, this one is worth reading. However, it’s not a good place to start the series. Overall, I enjoyed the previous collections more.