Writers: Alan Moore and Steve Moore
Artists: Peter Kuper, Arthur Adams and Alan Weiss (p), Peter Kuper, Arthur Adams, Kevin Nowlan and Al Milgrom (i)
Publisher: America's Best Comics
The opening story follows a man who imagines himself to be living the life of Tom Strong, but the reality of his situation doesn't quite match up to his flights of fancy. The second story joins Jonni Future who travel back to the present day to capture the mechanical entity that travels back to her era looking to conquer it. The final story looks in on young Tom Strong as his raging hormones have him questioning the intentions of all the young women who populate the island.
First off I have to say the Jonni Future has one of her most enjoyable adventures in this issue as she's forced to travel to back to her home time period in the pursuit of a deadly enemy from the far future where her adventures have been playing out. This outing has a lot of fun playing with the idea that she's going to draw a fair bit of attention in the present, thanks largely to her outfit. Now the big solution to the crisis felt a bit rushed, but I suspect most of this is due simply to the fact that I was having such a good time in the past that I was a bit disappointed to see it wouldn't carry over into another issue. However, the story makes pretty good use of the pages it does have available as there's a amusing bit a sitcom style comedy as Jonni arrives to give exactly the wrong impression to a father who had just been giving his son a hard time about his lack of a girlfriend. Still, it would've been nice to get another chapter for this story, as it couldn't help but feel there was more fun to be had with Jonni Future in the present. I also have to say the final young Tom Strong story wasn't all that bad either, as if nothing else it sets up the idea that the young women on the island would be drawn to Tom , and that he would also be subject to the raging teenage hormones that all young people must face. Now the story isn't exactly an in-depth character study, and the profound bit of insight that Tom walks away from this story with was a bit weak, but there is a nice little scene where Tom finds himself in a heated debate with his reflection in the water, and this made for a solid look inside the character's head.
Peter Kuper's work on the opening story does a lovely job of walking the line between fantasy and reality, as the story doesn't have any explanatory text to let readers what's going on, but it's instantly clear what the premise is, and it also does a powerful job when the fantasy make a jarring departure from the reality. The scene where the man is fleeing the woman's apartment is also a powerful little visual exchange, as is the injection of a fantasy element into his reality. As for the Jonni Future tale, the presence of Arthur Adams is always a welcome touch, as while he's one of the most deliberate artist in the industry when it comes to delivering buxom female characters, he's also does a wonderful job of showing how the more fantastic elements of Jonni Future's world stand out in striking contrast to the rather mundane qualities of the present day. As for the final story Alan Weiss offers up a style that is nicely suited to the material, but nothing about it really grabs my eye, and his version of Tom Strong looks unnaturally stiff, and at times his musculature looks downright freakish. Still, there are impressive visuals in this issue with the mating whales panel being an eye opening bit of imagery.
Normally I enjoy the rather novel way that the opening stories of this book are offered up, as while they are largely Tom Strong adventures, Alan Moore seems to be interested in delivering a novel twist in the way the story is told, as we've had everything from a story that was told via trading cards, to my all time favorite story which was a feature that offered up a historical perspective of the various scientific blunders that have been offered up in Millennium City's history. However, this issue's opening story didn't really grab me as we're following the adventures of a man who finds himself losing himself to a fantasy life where he's Tom Strong, and we see his real life encounters are decidedly less pleasant that his fantasies. However what really turned me off this story was the return to the reality that showed us out lead character was in the middle of physically assaulting a woman, as it was jarring moment that stripped away all the fun I was having with the idea, and instead we're left with the impression that this man is deeply disturbed, and completely unable to tell the difference between reality and his fantasies. I guess my biggest problem with the story is that I found the sudden shift from an entertaining diversion to a nightmarish situation to be a bit much, as I was more annoyed by where Alan Moore took this story than impressed by his ability to change the overall tone of the story within the span of a single panel. I guess one could look upon this opening story as a cautionary tale about losing one's grasp on reality, but I found myself disillusioned the story went down the path it did.
Love Is In The Air:
The one problem with this book remains the idea that the eight page limit that is imposed on all its stories results in stories that are either are one idea affairs like the story that opens this issue, or ones that feel like that are racing the clock to wrap their story up before they run out of room, which is clearly the case with Jonni Future's section of this issue. Now the young Tom Strong stories always feel about the right length, but this is largely due to the simple fact that he's such a flat character who I couldn't see carrying a story any longer that eight pages. In any event the Jonni Future tale has some fun with the idea of her having to chase one of her enemies into the present day, and while I didn't care much for the direction that he took it, I will say Alan Moore does offer up a clever blending of reality and fantasy on the opening story. As for the young Tom Strong story I did find his personal crisis where he was openly questioning why the girls on the island were drawn to him to be a interesting character moment, and I hope that Steve Moore plays with this idea some more. I also have my fingers crossed that his comments on the final page mean his adventures will be moving to the more interesting locale of Millennium City.
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