Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 4th Doctor # 1 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 4th Doctor # 1 (of 5)
"Gaze of the Medusa" - Part 1 (of 5)
Written by: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Art by: Brian Williamson
Colours by: Hi-Fi

Following in the footsteps of its Eighth and Ninth Doctor miniseries, Titan Comics continues to explore the rich history of the Doctor Who franchise with the launch of the Fourth Doctor miniseries, which sees the comic publisher focusing on the fan-favourite incarnation of the Time Lord. Once again Titan Comics have enlisted the help of the best in British Comics talent with writing team, Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby, well-known for their work in British science-fiction anthology, 2000AD. Focusing on the early adventures of the Fourth Doctor’s era, this Victorian-themed adventure sees the Doctor partnered with Sarah-Jane Smith, prior to their final adventure together in “The Hand of Fear”. It’s great to see this era of the show revisited in comic-book format, and setting the adventure during the Victorian era certainly captures the Gothic Horror atmosphere of the Fourth Doctor’s era, particularly the iconic serial, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”.

This opening episode blends a variety of different time periods together with a curious mix of Ancient Greek mythology against a Victorian London setting. The imagery of huge psychic Cyclops bounding through the streets of old London is really quite effective and quintessentially Doctor Who in nature. Brian Williamson’s artwork has a wonderful photo-realistic quality to it, which captures the likenesses of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen with ease. However, there are some minor quibbles with perspective, especially with the giant-sized Scryclops – some of the action sequences, such as the scene where Sarah-Jane is abducted, don’t quite flow as easily as Williamson’s work on the Twelfth Doctor comic-book adventure, “The Fractures”.


Rennie and Beeby do a fine job at recreating the relationship between the Fourth Doctor and Sarah-Jane on the page, evoking memories of Tom Baker’s unique delivery as the Doctor through their dialogue. In fact, it feels equally as authentic as Williamson’s photo-realistic artwork, transporting even the most ardent Doctor Who fan back to those Saturday evenings in the mid-to-late 1970s. Aside from channelling their inner-Tom Baker, the writing duo also manage to evoke that nostalgic atmosphere from classic Doctor Who serials with the deadly Scryclops appearing like the type of monster that would have had viewers cowering from behind their gaudy 70s-style sofas, whilst the mysterious veil-wearing mastermind behind this storyline feels ripped directly out of the Third and Fourth Doctor serials. Upon reading the final cliff-hanger, which sees Sarah-Jane come face-to-face with herself frozen in stone for all eternity, you could almost hear the Doctor Who credits theme in your head.

Overall, this was a promising start to another Doctor Who comic miniseries, which once again sees Titan Comics tap into the distinctive mood of specific eras of the show. The publisher has done a tremendous job at securing some of the best writers and artists in Britain to create an authentic home-grown feel to its comic series, and most importantly for spin-off media, it feels as if the creators have a strong love for the subject matter. Despite a few problems with the artwork at times, this was a great re-introduction to the Fourth Doctor and Sarah-Jane and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to both long-term fans of the character and more recent fans of Doctor Who, curious about the earlier incarnations of the Doctor. It’s completely new-reader friendly and doesn’t require any knowledge of the 1970s era of the show, but for those in the know, it’s a splash of nostalgic goodness. 


Score - 8.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor # 1 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.

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