"The Terrible True Life of Tom Strong"
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Duncan Egredo, Carrie Strachan of Wildstorm FX(c)
In the DCU, we have for your perusal an HIV positive former underage hooker turned Speedy, the retroactive rape of Sue Dibny and her
"current day" murder and the piece d'resistance, the power-drill torture of the Spoiler. Meanwhile in a universe that makes much more sense, Ed Brubaker in Tom Strong has Tesla Strong being portayed as warm, powerful and intelligent.
What starts out as a single chapter, slam-bang Tom Strong adventure pitting the Strongs against the Moran of Saveen's Moriarty, turns toward the end into a Prisoneresque first chapter that genuinely surprises.
Brubaker is simply amazing here. Maybe it's the fact that he doesn't have to worry about continuity. Maybe it's the fact that the ABC Universe of Alan Moore is much shinier than what's left of DC's history. For whatever the reason, Brubaker's writing seems to be laced with a tonic-like ink that produces crisp dialogue, smart plotting and thoughtful characterization that doesn't rely upon tropes involving mortal failings.
Duncan Fregado's artwork is love at first sight. The people, the settings, the cinematography, the lighting--everything, is just luscious and lovely to appreciate. It's the kind of old-school respect for anatomy, realism in facial expression and imagination under the restraint of visual physics that made super-hero comic books a force that dominated the industry for about sixty years.
I didn't think I would be curious about Brubaker's Captain America since he, a writer more comfortable writing detective fiction, seemed to be an ill-choice to detail the further adventures of a World War II Invader turned Avenger. Tom Strong shows Brubaker's surprising comfort with a more fantastic archetype.
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