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Tom Strong #36

Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006
By: Ray Tate



"At the End of the World"

Writer: Alan Moore
Artists: Chris Sprouse(p), Karl Story(i), Jose Villarrubia(c)
Publisher: DC

Tom Strong ends on an elegant, uplifting note that resonates throughout the ABC line created by Alan Moore. Moore has become recently dismayed by the way others have handled his creations. His disdain has resulted in several dramatic real world moves. He has demanded his name be stricken from V for Vendetta and has dissolved his association with DC, which very well could be blameless and merely symbolize for Moore corporate America. What Moore does not do is lash out at the fans. A lot of people read and enjoyed Tom Strong. Moore could have lit a fuse to the book and ran away to Top Shelf. Instead he rewards his readers for their patience and loyalty.

Tom Strong unwittingly impelled Promethea to fulfill her destiny to destroy the cosmos. This issue does not detail Tom's and America's Best heroes' efforts to valiantly defend against Promethea's madness, nor does it detail their last ditch efforts to save the ABC universe. The inevitable happens, but Moore ends it all in such a way that makes the reader feel good about herself. I'm reminded of the feeling that Joss Whedon imbued to his fans when he ended Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is the end, but it's not a monstrous, grotesque ending. It's not an end filled with death or destruction. It's not an end that demands man's inhumanity to man be spread as blood across the pages. It's a natural conclusion to a comic book line that had a fine run.

Mr. Moore while ushering Tom and the ABC line to Armageddon answers numerous questions and wraps up lingering plot lines. The answers and the resolutions sate one's thirst, and the reader can see, almost, how Tom Strong's story has changed from its conception. Instead like the best authors, Moore probably saw the character and the implications of the characterization and followed those contingencies to their fruition. That said, the nature of the Cobweb I haven't a doubt was planned from the start, and the way she casually shrugs it off like a silken shawl suits a character who was quite possibly the most farcical and nonchalant of all the ABC denizens. It's such a joy to read Tom Strong because Moore does not just write; he teaches writing.

The ABC line thanks to Moore's personal choices has been the home for fantastic artwork. The panels of these comics best represent the super-hero medium. No matter how piss-poor Batman or Superman looked, you could always count on Chris Sprouse to provide under appreciated, unhyped work that had a distinctive architectural style. The characters looked as though they had been erected rather than sketched, and each one surprisingly was capable of subtle emotions and body language. While other artists have drawn excellent interpretations of Tom and the cast, Chris Sprouse's understanding of the characters was and is unparalleled. This issue Sprouse, Story and Villarrubia outdo themselves. The cast for this tale is as vast as it should be, and the different color palettes nicely symbolize the evolution of the series as well as the story. Sprouse captures the power and the emotion behind the end of the world in the personal world of Tom as he bares witness to a truth that has escaped him for years.

Tom Strong, his author and his artist bid a fond and classy farewell to their fans.



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