Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Review: Terra Obscura

Alan Moore will reportedly leave the world of comics behind upon publication of his final League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume, "The Black Dossier" later this year. Mr. Moore has been widely [and deservedly] hailed as a modern comics master for his superlative writing on such diverse fare as Miracle Man, Swamp Thing, V For Vendetta, Supreme, several notable Superman stories, the above mentioned League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and of course Watchmen. Moore even managed to spawn his own line of comics under the banner of America's Best Comics (lifted from the 1940's Nedor Comics title). Promethea, Top 10, Tomorrow Stories, etc. all earned high praise from Mr. Moore's large fan base, but in his Tom Strong title, Moore again borrowed from the old Nedor company by re-introducing their popular WWII heroes (now in the public domain; and thus free for the taking) to a new generation of readers.
In Tom Strong #11 (Jan. 2001) Moore revealed the location of a parallel Earth, identical to ours but located on the other side of the universe, where the Nedor characters lived, including an analog to Strong himself - Tom Strange (originally known as Doc Strange in the golden age). Tom Strong freed the heroes from decades of suspended animation and together they defeated the alien who had entrapped them. Following this successful relaunch, Moore crafted two separate 6-issue miniseries that continued the tale of these heroes on "Terra Obscura"; as their Earth was known. Co-written by Peter Hogan and wonderfully illustrated by Yanick Paquette, with Karl Story, the 2003 & 2004 series presented new tales of Black Terror, Fighting Yank, Pyroman, Miss Masque and others. My only quibble with these stories [and Moore himself] was in how quickly so many of these classic mystery men were "dispensed" with throughout the 12 issues (now available in trade paperback editions). Some questionable lifestyle choices were foisted on a couple of these venerable characters as well. Still, a terrific reading experience awaits any fan of golden age heroes, pulp-style storytelling, or superheroic adventures in the collected volumes of Terra Obscura.
(Above) The Grim Reaper dies in Terra Obscura (Vol. I) #1.

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