Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 2

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 2
"Doctormania" - Part 2 (of 3)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Adriana Melo
Colours by: Matheus Lopes

I’ll be honest – I hate the Slitheen. I get that they were created during the early days of the Doctor Who relaunch when Russell T Davies wasn't entirely certain of the tone to take the series, and he introduced these funny, farting monsters with child-like faces to appeal to a younger audience, but they seemed to reek of the more ridiculous elements of classic Doctor Who. While there were sinister elements are work with the characters – they wear the skin of dead men to sneak into positions of power – they were played as laughs with fart jokes and pantomime performances. Here, Cavan Scott, takes the Slitheen and makes them into genuine threats once more, expanding more on the monsters’ backstory and providing a glimpse into the complicated civil war encompassing Raxacoricofallapatorius’ inhabitants. There’s even a spot of sympathy for the creatures as one of their skin suits rupture, resulting in sudden decompression which kills them in a particularly brutal fashion.

Adriana Melo continues to deliver some wildly impressive artwork in this issue, developing the Slitheen into a truly menacing monster, replete with razor-sharp teeth and claws. I also loved her designs for the other Raxacoricofallapatorian families which took the Slitheen design but changed it slightly, resembling the differences between frogs and toads. Melo ensures that the issue is well-paced and her art style is wonderfully clear and cinematic at times. There’s a grittiness to her work on the page which suits the Ninth Doctor’s era of the show and I love the way she brings the series’ cast to life but without being a slave to the actor’s likenesses. Her Rose Tyler looks like a real character rather than Billie Piper running around fighting rubber-suited aliens – she’s a fantastic fit for the series and I hope she sticks around beyond this opening three part story-arc.

The script crackles along with such energy and excitement, it’s clear that Cavan Scott is a massive fan of the source material and is enjoying every moment he gets to write for his favourite character. While I might not be the biggest Slitheen fan in the world, the monsters rightfully belong in a Ninth Doctor story and Scott’s storyline fleshes them out (pardon the pun!) and fixes many of the problems with the creatures. While taking the Ninth Doctor into outer space may be a departure from the tone of his earth-based stories seen in Season One of the television show, bringing in the Slitheen ensures that the story maintains that Ninth Doctor feel. Adding to that nostalgia factor is Scott’s keen grasp on the character’s voices and personalities – the story feels so authentic, you’d swear it had been written way back in 2005, rather than eleven years after the Ninth Doctor last appeared.

As surprised as I am to say this, Cavan Scott and Adriana Melo have actually made the Slitheen cool, transforming the fat farting monsters from “Aliens of London”, “World War Three” and “Boom Town” into something genuinely creepy. With the addition of synthetic skin suits, the Slitheen can now take the form of anybody – which immediately makes them a more dangerous threat – and Melo’s more ferocious take on the creatures makes them appear more violent and deadly. I wonder if Scott can give Peter Kay's atrocious Abzorbaloff from “Love and Monsters” a make-over, but I suspect that job may be impossible! Overall, this was a fabulous second issue to the series and with a sterling creative team at the helm, I'm predicting big things for the Ninth Doctor in the future.

Score - 9.8 out of 10

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

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