Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 5

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 5
"Medicine Man" (Part 2 of 2)
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Elena Casagrande
Colours by: Arianna Florean

With the bulk of the opening episode of “Medicine Man” told from the perspective of Neanderthal, Munmeth, this concluding installment takes the form of a traditional Doctor Who adventure and sees Gabby and the Doctor separated, but working together to solve the mystery of the Neanderthal abductions. In a nice bit of serendipity, the plot of this story-arc felt reminiscent of the recent Season Nine episode “The Girl Who Lived”, which also featured an alien race plundering a primitive civilization and abducting people, although it was Vikings, and not Neanderthals which were focused upon in that storyline. Even, the concept of humans being forced to fight in artificially created environments reminded me of the final Second Doctor adventure, “The War Games”, ensuring that this whole storyline felt very Doctor Who in design.

Elena Casagrande returned to art duties to wrap up this two-part storyline, maintaining a similar artistic style to Leonardo Romero's work in the preceding issue, but without losing her individual voice. I loved the varied character designs on Gabby alien allies and the Monaxi themselves, which resembled giant alien hermit crabs wearing cymbals on their heads. It's a great visual and I loved the creepiness of their tentacles and jagged teeth – the eerie way they observed those in their battle arenas reminded me of the Zygons, and Casagrande's design reflected that same crustacean-esque quality. Again, the monsters felt like authentic Doctor Who monsters, which ensured that the comic felt tonally accurate to its source material.


Nick Abadzis has done a fantastic job on this storyline, hitting the right balance between historical drama and science-fiction fantasy. Some of the best Doctor Who stories have involved injecting a science-fiction element into a historical time zone and seeing the two worlds clash, and it's great to see that technique used to great effect here. I really enjoyed how Abadzis made Munmeth the narrative voice for this two-part adventure, with the Neanderthal taking the role usually occupied by Gabby. This substitution provided the reader with a narrator unlike any we've seen in Doctor Who before, and immersed us into the pre-historic time period in a much more effective manner than if we'd been following Gabby or the Doctor's narration. My only nit-pick would be the way that Gabby's team of alien associates were somewhat sidelined, but given the cliff-hanger at the end, I suspect they will become more of a presence in the spin-off storyline.

Overall, this was another solid storyline for the Tenth Doctor's second year of adventures, demonstrating Nick Abadzis' growing confidence in the role of “show-runner” for the comic as he sets up multiple mysteries for the season's central story-arc. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Monaxi's mysterious employers, Cindy and the Magic Notebook and the impatient Anubis all tie together in the end. Whilst the first year of adventures lacked any sense of continuity between its stories, this second year has felt very much in the spirit of Doctor Who, showcasing a series of inter-connected, yet separate adventures that are building towards a season finale. I am very curious as to whom the Monaxi's mysterious employer could be, and where the Doctor and his companions have been transported to. As the sole writer on this second year of adventures, Abadzis has been given increased freedom to develop strong cliff-hangers and let his stories overlap with each other, making the series far more unpredictable and fun to read.


Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 5 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!

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