Why must humans always degrade robots with words like Doom, Terror, and Fear? Don’t you know we only want what is best? So a few meatbags get taken out here and there, is it really that big of a deal? But I digress… Tom Strong is traveling through time trying to prevent Nazis and robots from taking over, and he’s got Tom Strong along with him to help.
TOM STRONG AND THE ROBOTS OF DOOM #3
Writer: Peter Hogan
Pencils: Chris Sprouse
Inks: Karl Story
Letters: Karl Story
Letters: Todd Klein
Colors: Darlene Royer
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Publisher: America’s Best Comics
Previously in Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom: Tom Strong, hero of Millennium City. For nearly a century, Tom and his family (wife Dhalua, daughter Tesla, various hangers-on and a talking ape named King Solomon) have fought the good fight as ‘science heroes,’ saving the world from madman, alien, monster and freak many times. Of course, “time” is the operative word here, as Tom’s own offspring (son Albrecht, created from his genetic material by a Nazi madwoman) Albrecht Weiss has gone back in time and created an alternate time-line where the Nazis won the war, with the help of a race of alien robots, and now Tom is the only one who knows what the regular time-line SHOULD have been. Travelling back in time, Tom Strong has teamed up with his own younger self in a desperate race to stop something that never happened to save the lives of people who no longer exist…
STEPHEN: So… Time Travel, huh? Kind of makes you think… Tom Strong and Tom Strong find the time machine used to transport Albrecht back in time, and by the time they find their way into the underground lair of the Dero, they discover they are too late. I wonder why Tom Strong, the Elder didn’t use the time machine to go back in time a half hour and get there first?
MATTHEW: Or why he didn’t drop a trashcan on Albrecht’s head? The various permutations of time travel will just twist your shiny dome, sir, I recommend nodding and smiling. As it is, the issue makes it clear that he wasn’t quite sure when Albrecht arrived, and I suspect that by the time things are in motion, Tom got caught up in science heroin.’
STEPHEN: With Strong’s position of well respected hero and adventurer being turned on its ear in this issue it would be too easy to use the time travel solution, instead having to take himself down another peg by freeing one of his nemesis from prison. One of the biggest problems in a six issue arc is there is always going to be an issue or two that feel like filler. This issue feels like that filler issue; sure we get to see Albrecht negotiate his deal with the Dero, but we already knew that from the last issue.
There are also a few Strong and Strong exchanges that stumble where protecting the time stream is concerned. On the one hand, Strong, the Elder doesn’t want to give too much information away, but on the other hand, he tells exactly what happened when the military got involved in the entire Dero affair during the late 50s.
MATTHEW: I really like how younger Tom hates the paradoxes of their situation without being at all flummoxed by the fact that his decades-older self is in his house and then, BANG! They’re off to save the timestream from destruction. It really says something about Tom’s life that THIS is what bothers him when the world is about to be overrun by robots in the control of Nazi #$&@heads. This issue didn’t feel so much like filler to me, so much as a showcase for the Tom and Tom show, something that (given events near the end) may not return during future issues. I do appreciate the fact that co-creator Chris Sprouse is handling the art chores here, as his square-jawed, impossibly angular images of Tom Strong are a large part of the character’s appeal to me…
STEPHEN: Sprouse’s art is strong, and i think he is much stronger than other artists I looked at this week. If I had one criticism, it’s that he tends to rely on some awkward camera angles. In some panels, it’s almost like he is trying to mimic a super wide angle lens, which creates an odd relationship between Albrecht and Dero One in regards to who is in charge. And while I like the occasional use of overlapping no border panels in comics, the exchange with the Colonel spins out of control for me.
MATTHEW: I think the Dero One/Albrecht exchange was ENTIRELY intentional, and enjoyed the swirly avant garde look of the Colonel flashback, but I can easily see how it could be confusing to follow.
STEPHEN: I alluded to it earlier, but this issue was full of filler that only had two interesting things happening for it. Both of those elements could have been done in three pages, and the rest scrapped. Not my favorite installment of the series, and I’m only giving it 2 out of 5 Stars.
MATTHEW: I completely disagree. This issue’s plot holds the keys to the eventual overturning of Albrecht’s schemes, mark my words. (Revisit Tom’s ruminations about the Dero, and Albrecht’s attempts to manipulate Dero One by referencing “a good man.”) The shocking actions of young Tom also struck a chord for me, in that it’s now an even more personal struggle than before, with some horrifying consequences across the board for Tom Strong. Issue #3 is a much better story for me than it was for you, and I’m givin’ it 4 out of 5 stars overall. Reread it with my comments in mind, and I’ll bet you find more enjoyment in it, even the swirly multiple image work of the flashback…