The Terrifics #1 (April 2018)

The Terrifics #1

I’m hard-pressed to find anything wrong with The Terrifics. It seems like a quirky DC series spun out of a major crossover event. They’d done a bunch of these series over the years. The Terrifics has a few different things going on, of course. Ivan Reis doing Plastic Man. Reis’s style shouldn’t work with the wackiness of Plastic Man. But it does, because it’s Ivan Reis.

And so there’s a varied principal cast–Mr. Terrific (hence The Terrifics), Metamorpho (the only time the issues stumbles is too much time spent with the Stagg family), a female Legion of Superheroes-looking hero. Jeff Lemire and Reis share a “storytelling” credit but I think one can still assume Lemire’s doing most of the writing. Lemire brings them all together in a witty, exposition-friendly style. There’s banter. Mr. Terrific’s the straight man, et cetera.

It’s perfectly good superhero comics.

It also is introducing Tom Strong into the DC Universe, which is morally problematic. Worse, given it’s Reis and Lemire and Terrifics is fine so far, what if they integrate Strong all right? If they fail, it’ll be just desserts. If they succeed, well. It’ll be a testament to the original creator’s ability to create characters.

I guess I’m curious enough to find out.

CREDITS

Meet the Terrifics, Part 1 of 3; writer, Jeff Lemire; penciller, Ivan Reis; inker, Joe Prado; colorist, Marcelo Maiolo; letterer, Tom Napolitano; editor, Jessica Chen and Paul Kaminski; publisher, DC Comics.

Tom Strong 25 (May 2004)

Tom Strong #25

The guest writers continue with Geoff Johns. He has John Paul Leon on the art for a pseudo-eclectic story of a Tom Strong fan who has the power to reshape reality when he’s upset.

Somehow Johns, who does give the guy a backstory, doesn’t realize the universe would be in shambles. Johns even mocks the guy–the reader is supposed to mock the guy. He’s unlikable in his desperation.

Still, it’s okay. Johns writes the cast well–he too is obviously a Tom Strong fan and Leon’s art is an interesting forced mismatch with the series style. There’s rain in a lot of the issue. Leon does well with rain.

The conclusion has a lot of problems, but not too many to overshadow the story’s other strengths. It shows what a strong cast and setting Moore has set up.

Though it really doesn’t support the weight of silly magic.

B- 

CREDITS

Tom Strong’s Pal, Wally Willoughby; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, John Paul Leon; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 24 (March 2004)

Tom Strong #24

What did I just read? Hogan’s back writing again and he does a decent enough job scripting, but the plotting is a disaster.

It starts okay–Tom Strong’s ex-girlfriend (from the thirties) turns out to be a cryogenically preserved ice person and he’s trying to help her. So he brings her home. One might think it would lead to all sorts of interesting scenes between his wife and the ex-girlfriend, maybe Tesla and the ex-girlfriend but no… nothing. Hogan knows he should be doing that story because he hurries through a scene between Dhalua and the ex.

Instead, he sets up some possible future story. Not an important one, because he also doesn’t show how the ex-girlfriend’s reappearance has affected Tom (other than him trying to help her); there’s simply no weight to the story. It ought to weight six tons.

The art is gorgeous but the story is insincerely executed.

B- 

CREDITS

Snow Queen; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inkers, Karl Story and John Dell; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 23 (January 2004)

Tom Strong #23

Sprouse is back for this fast-paced done-in-one with Tom, Tesla and Val on the moon helping Svetlana find her missing husband. There’s a nice opening with Telsa and Val–he’s still learning English and it’s frustrating her. Even though it’s Peter Hogan writing, he manages to continue Moore’s light comedic touch, but always with some seriousness behind the humor.

But then there’s a kidnapping and a flashback. The flashback offers some insight into new father Tom Strong, something I don’t think Moore’s ever really covered. Hogan gets to show some cracks in the impervious Tom Strong skin and then shows how they get sealed.

The resolution keeps all the humor, not to mention Hogan referencing a nineteenth century newspaper hoax, but it goes further. He shows the depth of the friendship between Tom and Svetlana, as Tom quietly digests a big surprise.

It’s a fantastic, tender outing.

A 

CREDITS

Moonday; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 22 (December 2003)

Tom Strong #22

Moore brings it all together for the Tom Stone finale. He even gets around to a scene or two I really wasn’t expecting. It turns out there are drawbacks to a more emotional Tom Strong or Tom Stone. They play out unexpectedly for the characters, but maybe expectedly for the superhero comic book medium.

Ordway proves the perfect artist for the issue–and the arc–given the vast number of guest starring science heroes. They’re everywhere during some of the issue, with Ordway getting to do very different Bronze Age superhero action composition. It’s very cool, even if Moore’s successful at the scenes being emotionally devastating.

With all the time travel and alternate universes, it’s initially odd Moore wants to close off the Tom Stone storyline. The conclusion, where he actually gets to develop Tom Strong a little more, wouldn’t work without treating the arc rather seriously.

It’s excellent work.

A 

CREDITS

How Tom Stone Got Started, Part Three: Crisis on Infinite Hearts; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Jerry Ordway; inkers, Ordway, Sandra Hope and Richard Friend; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 21 (October 2003)

Tom Strong #21

The Tom Stone story continues with Moore doing a combination alternate history lesson of the twentieth century–with Tom Stone and the good Saveen rehabilitating all the villains instead of fighting them–and wink at the traditional Tom Strong back story.

The most interesting part is how Tom Strong’s mother is basically the only villain in the issue. She’s the one knowingly endangering the fabric of the space-time continuum. But not really, because everything in the Tom Stone world is okay.

And Tom Strong gets to hear all about how he didn’t do things as well as Tom Stone would have done–the deciding factor seems to be Tom Strong’s dad not being as sympathetic as Tom Stone’s–and even he gets tired of it.

There’s not a lot of drama to the issue, something Moore saves entirely for the soft cliffhanger.

It’s competently done, but lacks any momentum.

B 

CREDITS

How Tom Stone Got Started, Part Two: Strongmen in Silvertime; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Jerry Ordway; inkers, Trevor Scott, Karl Story and Richard Friend; colorist, Wildstorm FX; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 20 (June 2003)

Tom Strong #20

Jerry Ordway guest pencils for a special alternate history story. The shipwreck on the tropical island goes differently and so there’s never a Tom Strong. Instead, there’s a Tom Stone, son of Tom Strong’s mother and the ship captain. His understanding of racism firsthand–and still having the empathy to ignore it and help everyone–allows him to convince Saveen to become a science hero with him.

There’s a lot more, with Saveen marrying Dhalua and they have Tesla while Tom Stone marries some other chick. He’s actually nowhere near as important to the story; Moore realizes he can only get so much mileage out of that character and everyone else is more interesting.

It’s a constantly surprisingly comic, though the final reveal suggests Moore foreshadowed everything carefully throughout the issue. He’s not asking the reader to pay attention, he’s ignoring readers who do not.

It’s a tad manipulative, but definitely engaging.

A- 

CREDITS

How Tom Stone Got Started, Part One; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Jerry Ordway; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 19 (April 2003)

Tom Strong #19

This issue, containing three different stories by two writers (Moore on the first and last, daughter Leah on the middle one) and three different art teams (Howard Chaykin on the first, Shawn McManus and Steve Mitchell on the second, regular artists Sprouse and Story on the third), is mostly awesome.

Moore and Chaykin do a domestic adventure for Tom and Dhalau in the first story; Dhalau is kidnapped and Tom has to save the day. Throw in a matriarchal society and Moore gets to explore gender in comics. Chaykin’s exuberant but a tad too loose.

Leah Moore and McManus do a decent enough story with villain Saveen. McManus’s art is excellent but the final twist is too predictable.

The final story is an awesome riff on comic readers and the love of classic comics as objects. It’s funny, smart and mildly disturbing.

It’s a discreetly ambitious commentary on the medium.

A- 

CREDITS

Electric Ladyland!; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Howard Chaykin. Bad to the Bone; writer, Leah Moore; artist, Shawn McManus. The Hero-Hoard of Horatio Hogg!; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story. Colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 18 (December 2002)

Tom Strong #18

I think all of the jokes Moore gives Svetlana X–proud Russian science hero who has an interesting way of saying things (Moore gives her the cursing, only with accurate if misunderstood translation)–just primes for the big finish. He ends the story arc involving the giant space ants with a great cheap joke. There’s a lot of humor throughout, but the finish is an easy, wonderful joke.

Sprouse gets three big moments this issue. He’s an illustrating intergalactic battle and the script builds to each reveal. Sprouse has to make each bigger than the last. Given the first one involves a solar flare from the sun, it’s an accomplishment he’s able to properly amp up the others.

There’s good stuff with the supporting cast and Tom finally gets himself back in joint. He and Svetlana are hilarious together (he’s too polite to correct her).

As usual, Strong is reliable.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Last Roundup; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

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