Tom Strong and The Planet of Peril #3 yet again hits the mark with a near perfect mix of science fiction adventure and grounded dialogue and characters.
Strong is a creation of Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse that was a superhero only through the most basic interpretation. Moore coined the term “science hero” to explain characters who received their abilities through science fiction means.
It’s a truly novel concept that obviously had a lot of potential; Moore wrote 36 issues of the initial series, while Planet of Peril is the second limited series by writer Peter Hogan with Sprouse on art.
Hogan has crafted a beautiful series thus far that blends minimalist science fiction action and adventure with rich characterization that results in a relatable and organic storytelling.
Usually, sci-fi tales are more focused on the plot and details: various intergalactic factions at war, the diverse gamut of alien races, starships of all shapes and sizes, mythos’ that extend back thousands upon millions of years. These are the elements that normally build up a sci-fi world into an engrossing setting that readers can dive into headfirst.
Tom Strong and The Planet of Peril #4 throws archaic sci-fi concepts out the window in favor of going the opposite direction with both story elements. The world of Tom Strong is a minimalist setting with fantastical sci-fi elements that get toned down. Tom and his son-in-law, Val, visit the opposite Earth on the other side of the galaxy that’s populated by beings that are, more or less, human as well. Tom Strange is the resident science hero here, but is nowhere to be found while a massive viral outbreak ravages his planet. Surprisingly relatable considering we’re reading about a science hero and an alien meeting with other former science heroes who’ve taken the monikers and the powers of Egyptian gods.
While Tom Strong and The Planet of Peril #3 is organic and character driven, it’s also occasionally boring. We’re three issues into a six-issue series and almost no questions have been answered yet. Where is Val’s wife? What happened to Tom Strange? What caused this outbreak and how can they stop it? I’m so invested in the characters already that I’m willing to see this series through, but I could see other readers dropping the title due to lack of actual plot advancement.
Tom Strong is a fun, jovial time. I know that’s an odd adjective to use in 2013, but it perfectly describes the feeling you get from Strong and his pulp sci-fi adventures. The setting is believable because it’s minimal, and the characters are relatable because they’re complex and exhibit real emotions.