Again, deep into the night.

*Work work work work work.

Tom Strong #34

Well, this was decent. Tom zips off to a strange place called Samakhara to investigate the appearances of strange creatures which seem to bear a resemblance to beasts out of a favorite 19th book, The Chevalier de Reve and the Spires of Samakhara, part of an ongoing series of adventure heroine escapades as crafted by one Armond Delatour. Naturally, it turns out that the fiction is real, and Tom manages to save the day through impressive feats of conjecture and judiciously distributed pops to the mug. Thanks to the pencils of Paul Gulacy and Jimmy Palmiotti, Tom seems burlier than usual, the overall visual design perhaps grasping at a halfway-there pulp illustration feel. It’s a fair attempt, certainly weighted and supple enough, and the exteriors of the aforementioned Spires are nicely designed. There’s a few weird sequences where character expressions and movements suddenly become exaggerated and antic, breaking with the rest of the book’s solidity to offer a more liquid, pliable reaction style. It’s strange, jumpy.

Writer Steve Moore (no stranger to Tom Strong contribution) occasionally circles around some interesting ideas before opting for wholly straightforward resolutions. It seems that (way back in the day), Mr. Delatour himself wandered into Samakhara, the site of his book, which apparently possessed a magical property that brought all of his creations to life. He also discovered that he was gradually coming to resemble his own archvillain creation, the foul Tengri Khan, and he slipped into the role all too neatly. This also brought about the emergence of Delatour’s heroine, the titular Chevalier de Reve, but Delatour/Khan, aware of all of the story’s rules and thus able to subvert them, opted to simply put her into a deep sleep instead of killing her, in fear that the death of the lead character would undo the entire fiction universe. Naturally, this is where Tom comes in to wake sleeping beauty and promote the death of the author in a more literal fashion than is usually intended.

All of this is mere background for Tom and his new lady friend to run around in front of, encountering scantly-clad zombie bondage slaves and yetis dressed as aristocrats, and eventually bringing the story to its proper conclusion. And in such conclusion, the book offers up a cute little bit of (inadvertent?) self-evaluation: serial heroes tend to outlast their creators, often acting against their original wishes, and little can be done to stop it. In fact, that’s the proper way to go, the book seems to tell u. And while I can’t say that Tom Strong is particularly dissonant in approach to any of Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse’s discernible intents, there’s something to be said for the image of the creator-free hero(ine), wandering away across the desert sands, any deliberate purpose unknown, but moving at all deliberate speed.