Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales


Alan Moore is the best writer working in any medium today.

Most writers have one or two voices, and by voice I mean the way they write. It’s probably possible to quantify writer’s voice by doing things like seeing whether their use of punctuation forms a pattern, finding their adjective/noun ratio and counting words to find the average length of their sentences. (Culture and attitude would play a role as well.) Without doing any of those things, I can tell you that Terry Pratchett wrote like a happier Douglas Adams, that Moore showed with his encyclopedic League of Gentleman series that he can imitate the voice of almost any writer he chooses, and that his default voice is compassionate and as original as it is endlessly referential.

Moore’s towering achievement with the Tom Strong series is the creation of a character that feels as iconic as Tarzan, James Bond or Doctor Who, and seems as though it were written by as many people across a similar time span. This effect is aided by the variety of settings and genres the character exists in, and even his varying characterisations. Tom Strong is the child of a Victorian scientist shipwrecked on the island of Attabar Teru, who forced his son to spend his childhood in a gravity chamber. After an earthquakes kills his parents, Strong escapes from his chamber and lives with the local natives, regularly ingesting the root that gives them long life. As an adult he migrates to the Millennium City in America, where he uses his strength and genius for invention to become the greatest Science Hero ever.

I strongly recommended reading at least some of the original series before going onto Terrific TalesTerrific Tales itself contains three stories each issue. The first is about the adult Tom Strong, the third is about his coming of age on Attabar Teru, and the middle is about Jonni Future, an implausibly proportioned archaeologist who takes her deceased uncle’s position as a pulp hero millions of years in the future. Her stories were good, including one where it turned out that the man who stole the moon is actually a pretty cool guy, but I was distracted by the fact that the main character looked like she’d been drawn be men who had never actually seen a real woman, and only heard exaggerated third hand accounts.

To my mind, three self-contained narratives in one issue equals value for your money. I’d be very satisfied if I bought in at a newsagent.

My instructions to you are thus: if you can, read about Tom Strong and then check out his Terrific Tales. If neither is possible at this point in time, than you must read the next book you see with the name Alan Moore on the cover.


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