Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10
"Playing House" (Part 2 of 2)
Written by: George Mann
Art by: Rachael Stott
Colours by: Rodrigo Fernandes

Taking the ‘Haunted House’ trope and subverting it nicely with a dash of Cluedo, Labyrinth and the Eleventh Doctor episode “Hide”, George Mann creates a thrilling Twelfth Doctor adventure that leaps off the page with energy and excitement. I was particularly impressed with how well-developed the secondary characters were, especially the Mother searching for her husband and children. It was exactly the sort strong supporting cast that we’re used to seeing in Doctor Who, and it was great to see Mann capture that in his script. Talking of supporting cast-members, Hattie’s time in the TARDIS comes to a conclusion somewhat sooner than expected as George Mann hands the reigns back to Robbie Morrison for the remainder of the Year Two series. Even though her tenure as companion was quite brief, I found her to be very fun and different from Clara Oswald – mainly due to the fact she came from a colony in the future instead of modern-day Earth. While the first year of Twelfth Doctor adventures had a ‘season arc’ involving the Hyperions, this second year feels a bit more scattered in its approach with no connecting tissue linking the stories – this isn’t a negative – but considering the tighter story-arcs seen in Titan Comics’ other Doctor Who series, it is a noticeable change of pace. Perhaps when Mann takes over full-time for Year Three, there will be a more visible theme to the stories and stronger continuity in-series.

With some magnificent double-page spreads that look like an M.C. Escher painting on acid, Rachael Stott confidently takes on the challenge posed by Mann’s complicated script, ensuring that the story remains easy to follow, yet able to communicate a sense of wonder with its visuals. Clearly a die-hard fan of the series, Stott pops in some lovely little Easter eggs into her artwork – did you spot the K1 Robot from the Fourth Doctor debut serial, “Robot”? Her take on the Twelfth Doctor is fantastic, and she consistently finds dynamic ways to depict him on-panel, capturing the character’s energy with ease. She’s a great fit for this series, and it must be a real thrill for her to be creating brand-new Doctor Who adventures ahead of the latest series.

Since the departure of Clara, the Twelfth Doctor series has felt rejuvenated and full of potential and the promise of another new companion ensures that the series will keep moving forward. It’s great that Titan Comics is here to fill-in this unbearable wait for new Doctor Who episodes, giving us a glimpse into the Doctor’s post-Clara life, before he meets Bill in Season Ten. As the ‘flagship series’ in the Doctor Who range, this is an utterly vital purchase for fans wanting to continue the story beyond “The Husbands of River Song” – with next issue offering yet another jumping-on point, there really is no excuse to miss out!

Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Review - Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 15

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 15
"Old Girl: The Return of Sutekh" - Part 3 (of 5)
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Giorgia Sposito
Colours by: Arianna Florean

After a brief diversion featuring the Doctor and Cindy on Primordial Gallifrey, which is sure to have ramifications for the characters later on, Nick Abadzis returns his focus to Anubis and Sutekh as the elder Osirian begins to exert his evil influence over his son. Recalling elements of the iconic “Pyramid of Mars” serial, but with a more science-fiction based setting, Abadzis quickly establishes Sutekh as a powerful threat as he unleashes a horde of alien monsters into the universe. Taking place simultaneously with the events of the preceding issue, the Doctor is featured in a much reduced role – appearing only at the end when the proverbial hits the fan. Despite this, the issue manages to maintain its momentum and engage the reader throughout, thanks to the intensity of Sutekh’s resurrection and immediate takeover. As a long-running sub-plot since the end of Year One, it is very satisfying to see the Tenth Doctor comic series finally dealing with the Osirians and Sutekh, especially since it hasn’t been the most thrilling story-arc at times – personally, I find myself more engaged with the Time Sentinels and the Untempered Schism, which will hopefully play more of a part in these final episodes and the inevitable Year Three.

Giorgia Sposito once again demonstrates her innate talent for storytelling, building up an increasing sense of dread as Anubis begins his transformation into Sutekh’s puppet. Throughout the issue she manages to make the Osirian look formidable, alongside his familiar robotic assistants, and her solid panel work ensures that the story flows along nicely. I particularly liked her double-page spread revealing the alien monsters descending from the sky to prey on the Doctor and his companions, especially the dragon-like creature. She definitely has a talent for monster design, yet remains consistent with her interpretations of characters and monsters from the television series. Overall, this was a vital chapter in the “Old Girl” story-arc as Abadzis and Sposito work seamlessly together to introduce the true threat, or “Big Bad”, that has haunted the Tenth Doctor throughout this run of adventures. There’s a real sense of epic cinematography to this storyline that both artist and writer have cultivated throughout the past few issues – this is clearly building towards a dramatic climax and with the stakes raised higher than ever, I’m eagerly anticipating Abadzis’ wrap-up over the final two issues. Not afraid to take the Doctor, or his fans, out of their comfort zones, the Tenth Doctor series is an exhilarating take on Doctor Who mythology, revisiting classic storylines in completely different ways.

Score - 9.0 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 15 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Review - Doctor Who: The 3rd Doctor # 2 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 3rd Doctor # 2 (of 5)
"The Heralds of Destruction" - Part 2 (of 5)
Written by: Paul Cornell
Art by: Christopher Jones
Colours by: Hi-Fi

With the surprise appearance of the Second Doctor at the end of the first issue, this Third Doctor miniseries shifts in tone to mirror the classic multi-doctor episode “The Three Doctors” as ‘The Dandy’ and ‘The Clown’ interact with each other. The interplay between the two Doctors is absolutely perfect and Paul Cornell has a firm handle on the ‘voice’ of both Doctors and the unique relationship between them. My initial suspicion was the Second Doctor would be The Master in disguise, but thankfully it appears to be the real deal, which livens up the storyline and adds a whole new dimension to the storyline. The Master does make an appearance, and Cornell allows Lethbridge-Stewart the opportunity to shine, portraying the Brigadier as fully capable and a strong match for the devious Time Lord. Clearly, Cornell is having great fun playing about with the core relationships that made the Third Doctor and UNIT era so different from other periods in Doctor Who history. The storyline feels so authentic to the era that you’d swear you’d seen this one on TV!

Christopher Jones continues to deliver some absolutely stunning artwork on this series, and I particularly love his take on Roger Delgado’s Master. It is uncannily close to the late actor’s likeness and captures his essence entirely onto the page – you can almost imagine him delivering the lines with a sneer as he dives off the helicopter with his makeshift parachute. Throughout most of the issue, Jones’ art has a militaristic feel that suits the tone of the series perfectly, but the artist gets the opportunity to break loose from the late 70’s realism when he has to interpret Jo Grant’s mindscape onto the page. With bright colours and psychedelic visuals, Jones crafts an excellent sequence that stands out from his normal style. Jones’ art is the ideal complement to Cornell’s pitch-perfect script, resulting in a nostalgic blast to the past that will have you reaching for your sonic screwdriver in an effort to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!

Two issues in, and this series is shaping up to be the new jewel in the Titan Comics crown. With two creators utterly invested in recreating the Third Doctor era, the story is definitely in safe hands and I look forward to seeing this adventure unfold over the remaining three issues. If you’re a fan of the UNIT era of Doctor Who, you need to invest in this miniseries now!

Score - 10 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor # 2 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.
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