GRAPHIC NOVEL
Tom Strong
Book Five

Authors: Various
Artists: Various
Titan Books
RRP 11.99, US $17.99, Cdn $23.99
ISBN 1 84576 148 0
Available 25 May 2006


Tom Strong, his wife Dhalua, daughter Tesla, and companions King Solomon, the intelligent ape, and Pneuman, the mechanical manservant, tackle a host of exciting challenges from their base in Millennium City in another engrossing collection...

Book 5 in the Tom Strong series of graphic novels is one of the best collections, in this series, that I've read.

The most interesting tale, The Terrible True Life of Tom Strong, is a two-part story that sees our hero awaken to find he is living in the 21st Century as a down-on-his-luck nobody. He has a regular session with a shrink, who is concerned Tom constantly dreams of being a superhero. But slowly, Tom starts to see anomalies in this new reality. Is he really a mad no hoper with delusions of grandeur, or is his true superhero identity being hidden from him?

Of course it's not difficult to work out that this new reality is the fantasy (there would be no more Tom Strong stories if this were the true reality), but it's still an interesting tale.

Another interesting addition is the full circle story Jenny Panic & the Bible of Dreams. This is a bizarre story that sees the faceless Mr Hatfill trying to track down the woman of his dreams... Actually he is the product of a dream by this very same woman... but that's a little too complicated to go into here. Needless to say, Mr Hatfill wants to rescue this woman from herself. Along the way Tom and his wife enter a strange cartoon world - where Dhalua's breasts grow to enormous proportions - much to Tom's pleasure, and Tom's strength is more of a hindrance than a help.

A Fire in His Belly, sees the appearance of the Eye Opener, a super villain with the power to bring character from works of art alive to do her evil bidding. But, the most interesting aspect of this tale was the rather moving ending with Pneuman unable to serve his master in the way that would best benefit Strong. I won't spoil it here, but there is some twisted logic to his decision.

This is a first rate collection, with some fantastic writing and wonderful art work. Tom Strong fans are being spoilt.

Nick Smithson

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