Tom Strong And The Planet Of Peril #1
Written by Peter Hogan
Pencils by Chris Sprouse
Inks by Karl Story
Color by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Todd Klein
Cover by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story
Release Date: July 31, 2013
Cover Price: $2.99
Initially, I was astounded that this character was being produced by Vertigo Comics, renowned for it’s darker and more edgy comics. I was curious if the title character was going to be drastically changed from the earlier incarnations. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that most everything in Tom Strong And The Planet Of Peril #1 was the same as it was before. I was even more excited to see that this series picked up shortly after the last one ended.
I’ve not read everything Tom Strong has been in but I’m quite familiar with the hero. I’ve always felt he was akin to one of my favorite pulp heroes, Doc Savage. Much like the Man of Bronze, Tom has a certain aura about him that immediately commands respect and compliance. Both possess genius level intellects and are formidable physical specimens, as well. But unlike Savage, Tom Strong is a bit more than the perfect human, he’s a lot closer to a superhuman. First and foremost, he’s over a hundred years old and barely looks middle-aged. Other abilities include strength beyond that of a mortal and a constitution that rivals that of a demigod.All in all, he’s the epitome of a pulp action hero, even though he was created in 1999.
This particular series starts off with Tom’s daughter, Tesla, being rushed to the medical wing after having some life threatening complications. This is to be expected when you become pregnant by a flame emitting life form, I suppose. Determining the threat is far more dire than first thought, our hero decides that his only child needs an elixir that bestows almost complete invulnerability to the recipient. Only there’s a slight problem, it’s only available on an alternate Earth known as Terra Obscura. The planet is home to far more heroes than our own, many of them superheroes, including Tom Strong’s counterpart, known as Tom Strange. The most interesting part of all this is that the history and adventures of their world is chronicled here on Earth in the form of comic books. Apparently it’s referred to as “quantum telepathy.”
We don’t see much more than this in the first issue, though there are a few flashback scenes that seem oddly out of place. More to the point, this entire issue seems a bit…off. If I didn’t know the characters then I would have been almost completely lost. There’s no background data for any of the cast other than two sepia tinted pages of Tom as a child and a few that introduce some of the heroes of Terra Obscura. To be honest, I was hard pressed to recall a lot about the others. Luckily their names are mentioned in conversation, though not much else is revealed. I’d guess that’s my main complaint. I can see the story is going to be a great one but new readers are pretty much shut out of this comic. It’s a shame, too. There really should have been an introduction page to explain what had come before. Maybe we’ll see more of it in future issues…I hope.
That said, the book does have some great things going for it. It’s got the original co-creating artist, Chris Sprouse, working on the book as illustrator. Having the man that created the character (along with Alan Moore) on the job says a lot for the series, as his artwork is phenomenal. Clean, bold lines work to create the perfect visual masterpiece to compliment the story’s plot lines. And lucky for everyone, the writer of this series is none other than Peter Hogan. Peter scripted the last Tom Strong mini-series so it was an easy enough task for him to pick up where they left off. I know I have voiced some opportunities that this book has but I also feel that the end result will be worth the wait. It’s the new readers that I fear will suffer most.
So there you have it. My take on the new Tom Strong comic. So much potential and I know it’s going to please long time fans. But those of you that are not veterans of the former comics? You might start off a little lost, but if you’re game for it I know you won’t be disappointed. Knowing Vertigo, we’ll see some darker times in the issues ahead. So cruise over to your local comic shop and flip through it. The art is great and the story is out of this world (pun intended). Let me know what you think!