Al Gordon

Miracleman 8 (June 1986)

7968 20051127175514 largeThe issue opens with Cat Yronwode apologizing for the following reprints. She ought to doubly apologize as there’s a mention of the reprints being what Miracleman is thinking about after the end of his battle with Gargunza. Except none of the reprints feature Gargunza. Apparently when Miracleman thinks about his past, he thinks about unrelated episodes.

These reprints are probably the first Mick Anglo Marvelman I’ve read and, wow, they are stinky. Bad puns abound. Not to mention Anglo draws youthful Micky Moran like he’s fifty-three and an old drunk. There’s some Popeye influence to the art, which is kind of neat at times, but not often enough for it to be any good.

Yronwode keeps reappearing–with Chuck Austen drawing her appearance–to promise Alan Moore will return the following issue. Publishing delays are to be expected, but at least the reprints could’ve been on topic as flashbacks.

D 

CREDITS

Miracleman Combats the Electric Terror; writer, Mick Anglo; pencillers, Anglo and Chuck Austen; inkers, Anglo and Al Gordon; editor, Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Tom Strong 14 (October 2001)

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Moore has a great time with this issue, featuring Tom Strong and his family on an intergalactic vacation. It also shows how much Moore’s willing to change Strong to keep himself engaged.

The issue is split into three stories, all set during different points in the vacation. The first story, dedicated to a sick Tom McWeeney, has Hilary Barta on art. Tom and the family (Tesla’s still a baby) are on an absurdly hostile planet. It’s Tom as a dumb husband; it’s hilarious.

Sprouse and Gordon take over for the rest of the issue.

The second story is Tom and Dhalua on a planet where their hidden desires are made real. While it’s all fantastical, it shows a lot about the characters (who readers are already seeing forty-five years earlier than usual).

The final story’s an action-packed sci-fi number.

Great issue; Moore’s playful narrative is subtly revelatory.

Tom Strong 13 (July 2001)

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While this issue features some incredibly cool writing from Moore (more on it in a bit), it also has amazing art. It’s a five-part story, with Sprouse and Gordon on for the prologue. Then it’s Russ Heath (doing a teenage Tom Strong), Kyle Baker (doing the bunny Tom Strong analogue) and, finally, Pete Poplaski doing the finish. Poplaski makes the whole thing feel very Golden Age and it’s simply a superior visual experience.

As for Moore, he plays a lot with time travel and its effects, but he also comments briefly on the “imaginary story” genre. Tom Strong, it seems, has no imaginary stories. Moore gets a lot of mileage in figuring out how to make this one real.

There’s some great villainy from Saveen, though a lot of the dialogue refers to very distant events.

It’s also a mini-Captain Marvel homage with the “wizard.”

Simply wonderful stuff.

Tom Strong 12 (June 2001)

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Moore does a really nice job finishing up his Tom Strange two-parter, especially given how much material he brings into it.

The issue opens with the two Toms unfreezing all of Terra Obscura’s heroes and introducing them. They aren’t quite analogs to popular superheroes, but it’s hard not to see Batman in the Terror, who has a kid sidekick and everyone suspects is secretly nutty. Pretty much every other modern superhero analog owes it to Moore and Tom Strong.

Then there’s a brief introduction to the alternate Earth, which is fantastic. Sprouse doesn’t go crazy with it, just straightforwardly illustrating the amazing setting (an inverted city).

And the action-packed finale is exciting and touching. It’s no small feat, since Moore’s got the reader caring about characters he or she only met five pages earlier.

It’s masterful and Moore makes it all seem playful. “Just” a special retro issue.

Tom Strong 11 (January 2001)

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Moore really brings in the weight this issue. Not emotionally, but in terms of complexity. He introduces Tom Strange and Tom Strange’s whole alternate Earth. The complexity comes in with the explanation it’s not really an alternate Earth but a duplicate one, albeit with some differences, elsewhere in the galaxy.

It’s hard to comprehend, which is good, because it means Moore is able to maintain the fantastical nature of the proposition. But it also means there’s a lot of exposition. The Sprouse art is excellent, but it can’t outdo the endless scientific explanations.

The issue’s a little… pardon the term… strange. Moore opens with a fight scene and an action set piece, then he moves into talking heads, then into the science and sci-fi. There’s almost no movement in the issue, even with a fight scene and intergalactic traveling.

It’s also a two parter. This first part feels incomplete.

Tom Strong 10 (November 2000)

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“What about people who don’t read America’s Best Comics?” “They’re just scum.”

Moore closes the issue with a joke ad for the comic line and it overshadows the rest of the issue. It’s just too funny.

Once again, there are three stories. The first, illustrated by Gary Gianni, is sort of a period horror thing. Tom gets on a time machine-like device and travels into the past–into a dimension of the dead. Gianni’s art is sufficiently creepy, illustrating Moore’s prose. It’s a very effective piece, giving real insight into the Tom Strong character.

In the second story–Sprouse and Gordon taking over–Tom visits an alternate universe much like a Disney cartoon. It’s funny, cute and somewhat unexpected from Moore.

Fun’s also the keyword for Tesla’s adventure. She inadvertently brings a much of alternate selfs through a dimensional portal.

The issue’s not deep, but quite a fun read.

Tom Strong 9 (September 2000)

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The issue’s a family affair, with Tom, Dhalua and Tesla each getting their own story. Paul Chadwick handles the art on Tom’s story. His style mimics Sprouse quite a bit. If I hadn’t seen Chadwick’s name, I’d have no idea.

It’s a nice little story, with Moore mixing jungle adventure with positivist sci-fi. It ends a little fast though.

Dhalua has a good flashback story. Mostly Moore is just filling in her backstory, rounding the character. He does an exceptional job with the character, making her more distinct than Tom. Sprouse and Gordon do well with the constrained setting.

They also do the art on Telsa’s story, which Moore models on DC backups, like a Supergirl one. It’s a lot of fun, with more great art from Sprouse and Gordon. It’s got the most humor. Moore succeeds at making his observation on comics traditions while writing a great character.

Tom Strong 8 (July 2000)

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There’s no feature this issue, just three short stories. The first, with art by Alan Weiss, is a throwback to “The Twilight Zone” as Tom and Solomon find themselves in the Old West. All the residents have three eyes, eat weird things and no longer identify colors with the same words.

It’s a fast little story, with a nice resolution, but Moore really doesn’t explore all the implications. I guess that lack is the drawback–Moore’s ideas, even little ones, are just too strong.

The second story is an adventure for some of the Strongmen of America, with Chris Sprouse and Al Gordon on art. It’s a fun little amusement with a psycho principal out to make kids work harder in school.

The final story, again with Sprouse and Gordon, is nearly sublime. It’s a Tesla adventure and Moore ends it on a joke. It’s still almost sublime.

Great stuff.

Fantastic Four 285 (December 1985)

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Holy shit. I thought Byrne was going to do some kind of responsible story about a kid lighting himself on fire to be like the Human Torch but he does not. There’s certainly an element of that story in this issue, but there’s no responsibility. Byrne turns it into A Christmas Carol (but with only one ghost and the Beyonder being that ghost) and instead tells the reader since the kid was lonely and read Fantastic Four comic books and all, lighting himself on fire at the ripe old age of thirteen and dying is thumbs up.

I mean, I get what Byrne’s trying to say, the Torch isn’t responsible, but the way he magics away Johnny’s guilt and feelings of responsibility? Wow. It’s incredible.

It’s so incredible, it kind of has to be read to be believed. Along with Byrne’s awful artwork. Is the man incapable of drawing faces?

CREDITS

Hero; writer and penciller, John Byrne; inker, Al Gordon; colorist, Glynis Oliver; letterer, John Workman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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