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Tom Strong #21

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2003
By: Ray Tate



"Strongmen in Silvertime"

Writer: Alan Moore
Artists: Jerry Ordway(p), Trevor Scott, Karl Story, Richard Friend(i), Wildstorm FX(c)
Publisher: DC

The grandfather of all super-heroes Doc Savage had an intriguing method of dealing with criminals. He would have them escorted to his Crime College where he would perform a highly advanced form of neurosurgery that would wipe out their criminal tendencies. Later they would be re-educated to become productive members of society.

While Mr. Moore does not go into the details on how the alternate version of Paul Saveen--Saveen, Savage--rehabilitates he and Tom Stone's enemies, the end result is the same. This is not the only homage to super-heroes past and present you will find in Tom Strong.

Still learning about the parallel version of himself, Tom Strong listens to the mysterious traveler's tales of the history of her planet earth. I of course am a sucker for stories involving parallel earths, and Mr. Moore already lured me into his worlds with the idea of Tom Stone being a black hero fighting side by side with Paul Saveen, Tom Strong's archnemesis.

The story is part commentary and part science fiction drama, the heroes combine forces to engage the reader. The book opens with an original twist on the grandfather paradox then leads to an exposure Tom Stone and Paul Saveen working against the Axis powers in World War II. Mr. Moore shows how the two build up membership in their extended family. He then follows through with Tom and Paul ending up in a pointless slugfest against the other ABC heroes like Cobweb and Promethea. The dialogue here is hilarious and cuts through the silver age excuses that pitted hero against hero to expose what the reader of that time simply wanted to see.

When Tom Stone and Paul Saveen experience their own Crisis on Infinite Earths--science here goes out the window--Mr. Moore makes some amusing observations on the aftermath. The three Bob Bentons for instance parallel the multiple Flashes that were still left over after the Crisis.

Jerry Ordway renders the entirety of the book with his usual skill and traditional understanding of super-hero action. His anatomy of course is impeccable and his characters exhibit believable emotions. The colorist however cannoot decide whether or not Tom Stone is black like Mr. Moore wanted or some Elvis like white.



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