Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 8th Doctor # 5 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 8th Doctor # 5 (of 5)
"A Matter of Life and Death"
Written by: George Mann
Art by: Emma Vieceli
Colours by: Hi-Fi

With this final issue of the Eighth Doctor miniseries, writer George Mann had the unenviable task of creating another standalone adventure through time and space that also served as a conclusion and thematically wrap-up to a miniseries of seemingly unconnected adventures. Balancing across a narrative double-edged sword, I was worried whether he would be able to pull off a satisfying conclusion to this laid-back jaunt through the past, present and future. Of course, my misgivings were proven wrong as Mann, along with series artist Emma Vieceli, delivered a strong finale to what has been one of the most delightful surprises of Titan Comics recent Doctor Who output.

With all the dexterity of a scripting ninja, George Mann starts off the adventure in a similar standalone fashion before revealing a shocking secret about the Doctor’s latest companion that throws the previous four adventures under a whole new light, even adding a dash of “timey wimey” goodness, thanks to a cameo from the Twelfth Doctor. Despite the juggling act of single issue plot-threads and the series’ over-arching loose ends, Mann never loses focus, with a strong script that keeps the reader on-board with every shocking revelation. Fans of the modern series will also notice a nice touch of foreshadowing with the Eighth Doctor’s solution to the Synth problem, mirroring the conclusion to “Forest of the Dead” and River Song’s eventual fate. The revelations surrounding Josie’s origins and her ties to the Doctor make perfect sense, really adding to the continuity of this mini-series and shedding new light on why these specific adventures were hand-picked by the Doctor.

Throughout the past five issues, Emma Vieceli has demonstrated an amazing skill as a storyteller, making use of varied panel shapes and sizes to add motion to her stories. She has been a fantastic addition to the Titan Comics roster of artists, accurately capturing the Eighth Doctor’s romanticism and energetic personality onto the page. Every issue of this series has been a joy to read, thanks to the joint efforts of Mann and Vieceli, as the writer and artist both work off each other’s strengths. When producing licensed material of a recognisable franchise such as Doctor Who, it is important to capture the atmosphere of the source material onto the page, and despite Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor only appearing twice on-screen, Mann and Vieceli have completely nailed his personality traits through his vocal tics and facial expressions. You can almost hear McGann’s distinctive cadence when you read Mann’s dialogue in your head – although, perhaps this is due to the wealth of audio adventures that McGann has starred in for Big Finish Productions.

While this series of adventures wraps up the loose plot-threads nicely, Mann wisely leaves the door open for more potential stories between the Eighth Doctor and Josie – something that hopefully Titan Comics will consider. While I doubt that the publisher could sustain another ongoing series alongside the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor comics, hopefully they will consider revisiting the Eighth Doctor for another mini-series once the upcoming Fourth Doctor miniseries comes to an end. Or maybe we will see the Eighth Doctor and Josie return for the next Doctor Who comics summer event? Hopefully, this experimental miniseries has proven to Titan Comics that there is an appetite for the classic Doctors out there, aside from the obvious ones, and we will see more obscure eras explored in future miniseries! I’m still pining for a Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe mini-series – complete with black and white artwork!

Score - 9.8 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor # 5 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.

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