Review by Karl Verhoven
Although series creators Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse return for the final chapter of Book Six, they’re absent here, so it’s left to others to continue the world they created.
What’s interesting is how few of them seem to have understood the optimism underpinning the series, and how many have created stories in which Tom Strong could be supplanted by pretty well any generic superhero. That’s most obvious in Mark Schulz’s opening tale where mechanical flight ceases to apply, and we have synonyms for swearing. Would Moore have had Tesla saying “Damn! It’s been thirty freakin’ minutes”? Ironically Pascual Ferry’s art is the nearest in the book to the series template established by Sprouse.
It’s Brian K. Vaughan who comes closest to matching the prevailing tone of the series, with a tale of paintings coming to life, but the most interesting aspects of his plot are those that take a darker path featuring Pneuman at the start and conclusion. Peter Snejbjerg alters his natural style to approximate the normal series layouts, and is, as ever, very good. Steve Aylett’s story has a touching whimsy at its heart, but is by the numbers even if it gives Shawn McManus the opportunity to showcase a hitherto unsuspected animation style of cartooning.
The best to be found in this collection is the concluding two-parter by Ed Brubaker and Duncan Fegredo. The always excellent Fegredo works in different styles, while Brubaker’s story ticks the box of an alternate version of Tom Strong that wasn’t previously used by Alan Moore. It takes a while to get going, but stick with it, and don’t worry about the ending being a little over-egged.