Showing posts with label 10th Doctor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 10th Doctor. Show all posts

Friday, 10 February 2017

Interview - Nick Abadzis [Writer / Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor]

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to interview Nick Abadzis, the writer of the Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor series for Titan Comics. I've really enjoyed Nick's run on the series over the past two years, and the way he introduced two brand-new companions into the mythology with Gabby and Cindy. As the series prepares to launch its third volume of adventures, I caught up with Nick to find out his experiences writing for the Tenth Doctor and creating brand-new companions for the series. 

PCB Blog: First things first, I have to ask the dreaded question – Which incarnation of the Doctor is your favourite? And, why?

Nick: I really do honestly have trouble answering that question, because “my” Doctor – the one who made a massive impression on me as a kid – is Tom Baker, although I do remember Jon Pertwee and began reading the Target novelisations when he was still the incumbent Time Lord. Obviously, I also have a great affinity for David Tennant’s tenth Doctor and am loving Capaldi as the twelfth in almost equal measure. 

Equally, I find Troughton utterly compelling. I wish more of his serials were extant in the BBC archives because I find watching him one of the most enjoyable things ever. McGann also holds a major importance for me, as he was the Doctor in my head for perhaps the longest time – off-air for about nine years during which I read of the eighth Doctor’s adventures in the BBC books and listened to all his Big Finish audios. 

I also have a bit of an aversion to making lists and rankings – I don’t like it because I feel as if it boxes my imagination in. I like to feel that my favourite Doctor is the one I happen to be watching in the current moment – sometimes I’ll feel like a bit of McCoy, a bit of Davison or even some Cushing, y’know…?

PCB Blog: Continuing with this theme of questioning – which of the Doctor Who monsters (classic or modern) do you have a fondness for? Feel free to go as obscure as you like!

Nick: I do love all the big obvious ones (points to line of red toy Daleks on bookshelf and Cybermen and Sontaran figure collection)… 

I love the Ood, although I tend to think of them as a put-upon but sympathetic alien species rather than a monster. I was very happy when Stephen Moffat brought back the Zygons… I like the weird creepy ones like Zygons, Axons, Autons and Rutans that have some kind of rapport with matter or flesh. Krynoids and Wirrn are good for that, too. I love the concept of things that can get inside your thinking, like the Weeping Angels or the Mara. 

But there is also the glory of crap or even just slightly lame monsters. I don’t think we’ve yet seen enough of the Krotons. Now, they have the potential to go really bad. Someone needs to bring the Garm back. Or those sanitation robots from "Paradise Towers". Good robots are hard to do though – you’ll always be measured against great ones like "The Robots of Death". 

Tractators – I have an idea for a solo companion story called Turlough and the Tractator Challenge in which the fifth Doctor’s loyalty-challenged former companion finds himself on a reality TV show not unlike Big Brother.  He’s trapped in a house with a whole load of crap monsters whose behaviours he has to be irritated by and complain about to Gabriel Woolf’s disembodied voice, which he can only access from the one single toiletry facility that everyone in the place uses. He must use his wits to get in there before the Tractators embark upon their improbably long bathroom ablutions every morning. 

PCB Blog: Is there a particular story, from either the classic series or the relaunch, which you really enjoy? And, why?

Nick: I think it might be fairly obvious at this point that I enjoy "Pyramids of Mars" a lot, which I think was Robert Holmes at his pressurised best. Some people think it falls apart in the fourth episode, but I don’t agree or care – it’s genius. I love that whole Hinchcliffe and Holmes-produced period of Doctor Who. But 70s and the first part of 80s Who as a whole was a huge part of my childhood.  

If I had to pick a modern Who episode, I’d probably say "Blink", which remains not just a masterpiece of Doctor Who, but of modern TV, even though the Doctor’s barely in it. I also have a soft spot for "Gridlock", which is one of the weirdest things anyone’s ever got on prime-time television. I often think it’s more telling to ask what a person’s second or third favourite story is. 

PCB Blog: What is it about Doctor Who as a series that appeals to you as a writer (and viewer)?

Nick: Everyone always goes on about the incredible flexibility of Doctor Who as a storytelling format, but it’s true. It’s all of time and space. It was always an ingenious idea as you can pretty much go anywhere and tackle almost any kind of genre ever within that remit. That’s probably why it works so well in so many different media – on TV, in comics, on audio, and certainly as long-form fiction. There have been some utterly brilliant SF novels and audio plays written which are probably not well enough known amongst a wider audience because they were written as tie-in fiction. 

Which is not to say that Doctor Who isn’t an incredibly difficult thing to write. As has also been well-documented, it just eats ideas at an incredible rate of knots. There’s no formula, not without being horribly obvious, no easy repeat moves, it just never allows you to be lazy. You have to be unfailingly original. But that’s the thing – it invites this, challenges you to always rise to that demand.  

PCB Blog: What is it about the Tenth Doctor that sets him apart from his other incarnations? As a writer, how does the character appeal to you?

Nick: First of all, David Tennant’s characterisation of the Doctor caught me the moment he first appeared – in our household, we all loved him instantly, which certainly helps if you’re writing him. At first, he seemed harder-edged, less forgiving, certainly of his enemies, and his mood could spin on a penny. But this also disguised a tendency to get more involved in the emotional lives of his companions, even when he pretended he wasn’t.

He’s often said to be one of the most “human” of all the Doctors, but I think that’s just his emotions being nearer the surface than some other incarnations, although he tried hard to disguise a deep guilt complex – after all, at this point, he still thought he’d destroyed his own home-world. He’s also often touted as the most vainglorious incarnation, which is perhaps one of the most human qualities any Doctor has ever displayed. 

But people forget that both he and the ninth before him were still traumatised after the Time War, so I tend to think it’s a manifestation of survivor’s guilt. He’s cocky rather than conceited, and it masks a deep loneliness. If he didn’t watch it and didn’t have that conscience in the shape of a companion, it could lead to a situation like "The Waters of Mars".  What was important though was that he still cared. He might’ve messed up, but he never gave up, never stopped caring about the universe, and the little guy’s lot in it. I’ve allowed him to get a little bit comfortable – you might have noticed that I’ve mellowed him very slightly – this is the influence of his current companions, to a degree.

PCB Blog: Which version of the Doctor would you say most resembles you, and why?

Nick: The tenth, without a doubt. An outer hide like a rhino that houses a heart(s) of slop and gold; a tendency to be unable to suffer fools gladly, a liking for Converse All-Stars (which I had before he did). Though my wife would say the fourth. I might lack a long scarf but she’s often telling me I’m from a completely different planet. And apparently, I’m at my most dangerous when I’m grinning. Grinning, not smiling.

PCB Blog: You’ve introduced two brand-new companions to accompany the Tenth Doctor in Gabby and Cindy. What inspired you to create these two characters and choose modern-day New York as their home?

Nick: Originally, the Titan range was aimed at the US market, and it was suggested to me that we have an American companion. Because I live and work in and around New York City, it seemed entirely natural to find a companion there. It also seemed the most obvious thing in the world that if you wanted to riff on Russell T Davies’ version of Doctor Who, then you had to at least nod at the family-at-home format he initiated  back in 2005 with "Rose". That episode was my basic template, but everything else in "Revolutions of Terror" is mine. I cycled around Brooklyn and ended up in Sunset Park, where there is a large Mexican and Chinese population. Gabby and Cindy were born there, literally and in my imagination. Elena Casagrande realised both characters visually, and did an incredible job. At that stage, no-one, least of all me, had any idea that Cindy would take on the role she since has, but she simply wouldn’t go away.  She refused to be parted from Gabby, partly because she has an enormous crush on her, partly because the character dynamic was so strong. Our editor Andrew James, in his wisdom, suggested that this was a relationship we hadn’t really seen on board the TARDIS before, that of pre-existing, very close friends who both become the Doctor’s companions, albeit at different times. So I gave in to it. (Am I talking like they’re real people? They’re all real to me.) 

PCB Blog: How would you describe Gabby and Cindy in five words each?

Nick: Well, they’re both full of contradictions, but let’s give it a go…

Gabby: imaginative, practical, warm, complex, cosmic, instinctive. (“Instinctual,” if you’re American, but I’m British.) Oh, that’s six, sorry… 

Cindy: loyal, gutsy, humorous, self-deprecating, shrewd, compassionate. 

PCB Blog: Despite being best friends, there is a bit of rivalry between the pair as they vie for the Doctor’s attentions in the TARDIS. How would you describe the relationship that each of them has with the Doctor?

Nick: Well, Gabby got there first and, in a sense, had a real need for the Doctor in her life. She also had the imagination and the courage to follow him and help him. Despite her protestations to the opposite – much of which is in support of Cindy, who can sometimes be a bit needy – she is incredibly brave, and very selfless. Yet she really did need a teacher, and she chose the Doctor, who, as Donna reminded him, needs someone fair-minded and levelheaded to help him see things from a slightly less lofty perspective than his. Despite her creativity, Gabby is quite grounded and can be a little sober, but she’s also deeply romantic and this gives her a sense of far-sightedness and emotional intelligence, a sort of artist’s self-belief and internal equilibrium. 

In a sense, she’s by far the most “adult” of this TARDIS crew, but she’s also the most empathic and sensitive. She’s able to communicate that warmth, which in turn sort of puts her in charge of what I call “TARDIS outreach” work. The Doctor knows he doesn’t have to work to charm people so much with her around. This is perhaps one of his less egalitarian traits, but it means he knows he absolutely needs her – even if he rarely shows it. He knows she’s as inquisitive as he is, but that her insight and emotional instincts will keep him on an even keel. (Like the Twelfth Doctor says about Clara – “She cares, so I don’t have to.” Even though he does, even though his interests are the bigger picture.) 

Cindy, by comparison, sort of invited herself to the party and more out of a need for acceptance than any desire to explore the universe and learn. Like the Doctor in this regeneration, she’s a little bit of a lost soul, not realising that the person she needs most is herself, the best version of her. She is super-smart but doesn’t trust herself much, which is why she feels she missed Gabby so much, as Gabby’s a very supportive sort of person. 

At first, the Doctor thought Cindy was just a pest, but he began to respect her persistence and refusal to be overcome by her own fears. In a sense, Cindy represents what we sometimes perceive as the worst of us, while Gabby is the best, but they absolutely need each other, as they do the Doctor, and they all balance each other as characters. Cindy really does love Gabby, and even though she’s slightly jealous of what she perceives as a bit of favouritism on the Doctor’s part, it’s actually just a mechanism of simple chemistry and Cindy, as usual, underestimating her own importance. She’s happy to play the fool, as it gives her a role, and she’s terrible at masking her true feelings. She also has few diplomatic skills, which to Gabby, come naturally. 

But the Doctor loves this about Cindy, he thinks she’s hilarious, and is surprised to find that she absolutely and unexpectedly is indeed companion material. She’s far braver than even she herself realised, sometimes recklessly so, which appeals to the Doctor. Her deficiency is that she simply won’t acknowledge either aspect of this courage, which is fuelled in huge part by her senses of compassion and loyalty. Either way, however she sees herself, she’s most certainly a very important part of the team. 

This balance is soon to be upset in a big way, however…!

PCB Blog: I know it’s like asking a father to pick his favourite child, but which out of the two do you prefer? I’m leaning towards Cindy Wu myself – she is more emotional and unpredictable compared to Gabby.

Nick: Nah, Gabby’s just better at controlling her emotions! Except when Cin really riles her, and she knows how to push her friend’s buttons. They have a very sisterly relationship. They play off each other and the Doctor extremely well, but I think Cindy has a more obvious advantage with readers in that she’s funnier – I admit, I tend to give her the one-liners. But if you look closely, while Gabby’s a more complex, self-sufficient character, she is very much the glue of the team. Cindy can only go it alone for a certain amount of time without her (or even Cleo), and the Doctor tends to overlook this. He’ll throw her in at the deep end – sometimes with his faith entirely justified – because he thinks of her as the balance to Gabby, which she is, sort of. 

But there are also moments where he accidentally puts Cindy in serious, life-threatening danger because he’s not always great at judging these things from a more human standpoint and fails to realise Cindy simply isn’t as accomplished and natural a cosmopolitan creature as Gabby, despite how much she’s learning. 

I think I successfully avoided answering your question because, no, I can’t pick a favourite.

PCB Blog: With plot thread set up in the finale of Year One coming to fruition in the conclusion of Year Two – how far ahead do you typically plan your stories? Do you have an idea of how Year Three will take shape? Is there much wriggle-room or do you follow a strict plan?

Nick: I write year-long plans, so I know roughly where everything is heading and how certain character arcs will play out. When I finished Year 1, I knew I’d have to revisit Anubis and Dorothy at some point.  These plans are not so much plot-driven as character driven, with a lot of visual notes and concepts for enemies and just weird SF or historical ideas that I want to explore. 

As of writing this, I’ve written (almost) the first three scripts of Year 3 and yes, I am keeping roughly to plan, but I try not to be too strict about it. Sometimes you’ll get an idea that you want to follow, and in my experience, it’s best to follow those weird, stray happy accidents and see where they take you, because it’s usually a better route to the same eventual resolution you had in mind, better than the one you’d initially envisaged. Writing is a weird process of instinct versus plot sense, of coaxing coherence from creative chaos. But if you trust yourself to go off the map, you’ll almost always get better results than if you stick to the well-worn road.

PCB Blog: You’ve dabbled with historical stories briefly with a two-part excursion to the Jazz Age, but is there another time period that would you like to explore more of in future stories?

Nick: Does a visit to Neolithic times not count as a historical (when The Doctor and Gabby meet Munmeth, the Neanderthal Shaman)? I thought it did. That was a lot of fun to research – I’m fascinated by the idea of Neanderthals, of two human species inhabiting the Earth at the same time in the deep, deep past. Probably where the idea of “them and us” comes from – one of the most bogus ideas humankind has ever propagated. 

When you write a “historical,” there’s a the sense that it always has to contain an SF element, though it’d be nice one day to do something that didn’t, although I think you need a certain page count to do that properly, plus there’s always the pressure to have a monster of some kind. 

The TARDIS crew will be visiting ancient China in Year 3, by the way. I was also  toying with the idea of a visit to mid-20th century USSR, which readers of some of my other work know is a period and location that holds a great deal of interest to me. That may yet happen.

PCB Blog: Midway through Year Two, you had Captain Jack Harkness appear in a guest appearance – do you have any more plans to include the Torchwood Leader in future stories?

Nick: I’d like to – I’m very fond of Jack and suggested at the end of his appearance in "Arena of Fear" that he might be setting up a new US arm of Torchwood, perhaps with Cleo as his right-hand woman (can you imagine the sparks if she and Gwen met?) and Erik Ulfriksson providing resources. But he has his own comic now, so I don’t know if that’ll happen. It’s still out there, if other writers want to pick up on it.

PCB Blog: Out of the stories you’ve written for the Tenth Doctor so far, which has been your favourite to work on?

Nick: It’s always the latest, but I’ll plump for the end of Year 2, which I think will be collected under the title "Sins of the Father". I had to work really, really hard to provide dialogue for a certain villain that was created by one of my writing heroes, Robert Holmes, so it was a real challenge. I suppose everyone knows by now that it’s Sutekh. I hope I rose to the occasion – I certainly gave it my very best effort.

PCB Blog: Are there any Easter Eggs or hidden references you’ve slipped into your work that most people wouldn’t notice?

Nick: Probably loads. I’m not even sure I notice them all myself, but I’m told by a stalwart friend and fan that there are a lot of little touches like that. This is what happens, if you’ve been steeped in Doctor Who lore from year zero. I dunno if anyone noticed the tip of the hat to Terrance Dicks in "The Fountains of Forever"? There’s some dialogue there that’s a direct nod to the novelisation of "Pyramids of Mars".

PCB Blog: The overarching ‘big bad’ for both “season finales” have been the Osirians, Anubis and Sutekh, who first appeared in the iconic Fourth Doctor serial, “Pyramids of Mars” - what made you choose the Osirians for this role?

Nick: At the point I chose them, no-one had ever really used them much. There’s a Virgin Adventures book by Justin Richards, "The Sands of Time", and they’d been mentioned in passing or made cameos here and there in other stories and a Big Finish audio, but unless you count some of the unofficial audios, they’d never really been deeply explored as a race and culture. So, to me it seemed to be an instance of the proverbial “low-hanging fruit.” 

When our issues began to run, I discovered Big Finish were bringing out a Bernice Summerfield box set with Sutekh as the villain, which I can only applaud. But I did think there was the potential for a lot of rich, deftly-sketched in background detail – as usual when you create characters, you have no real idea of how deeply they will take on lives of their own, and Anubis certainly did. Clearly, his dad is one of my all-time favourite Doctor Who villains, so I wrote them both with Gabriel Woolf’s voice in mind.

PCB Blog: Are there any plot threads from Year Two that will be brought over into the third year, or will you be starting from a fresh slate? What can readers expect from the next year of Tenth Doctor stories?

Nick: Well, some locations will recur, the musical theme – the song of the Doctor – will almost certainly recur, but as much as anything can ever really be wrapped up on Doctor Who, there is the sense of an ending, for the time being. 

Certain character threads will continue and there will of course be an emotional aftermath – but this is Doctor Who, so that will have to happen as a new adventure begins. I can promise that in Year 3, you will see a return of the Time Sentinels who featured as villains in #2.14. There will come a reckoning.

PCB Blog: Are there any other licensed properties you’d love to write for in the future? 

Nick: Yeah, anything that begins with the word “Star” in the title. I’m also waiting for someone to invite me to write a continuing series of the original 1970s incarnation of The Tomorrow People with John M. Burns as artist. Plus, there’s my plan to crank up a new genre of AI Romance comics using Machine Man and Jocasta, if Marvel will let me. They’re not calling me back, though. 

I can never tell if my own answers to questions like these are serious or not, but I suppose I should also mention ALIEN and The Thing. I have the greatest idea for a Continuing Adventures of The Thing comic. Also vampires and werewolves. I really have to try to get back to writing some horror at some point, as, Hugo Tate excepted, that’s pretty much where I started.

PCB Blog: Do you have any other work in the pipeline that you’d like to tease? 

Nick: Well, yes. Fortunately, I always have other irons in the fire. In July, with artist Jerel Dye, I am launching my own world in the form of a new graphic novel from First Second, who published LAIKA. It is a world that is populated, initially at least, by various forms of pig. It is a YA tale of anti-chauvinism, magic, industry, and warfare. It’s called Pigs Might Fly. It’s the first in a projected series… I’m gonna share a few pieces of advance art with you. We worked really incredibly hard on this book and are very, very happy and excited about what we achieved, and we hope you’ll want to read it. If you like my Doctor Who stuff, you’ll enjoy this. I think it’s very timely, because it’s certainly about what’s happening in the world right now.

Pigs Might Fly - Exclusive Preview Art - [Click to Enlarge]

PCB Blog: And, finally, which comics are you reading at the moment? Do you have anything you'd like to recommend?

Nick: There is a hell a of a lot I need to catch up on, including Rob Williams’ Unfollow, which is top of the pile, but recent reads include these…

Megahex by Simon Hanselmann, Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu, the all-new Love and Rockets magazine #1 by Los Bros Hernandez, Caliban and War Stories Vols 1 and 2 by Garth Ennis, nearly all the Marvel Star Wars titles, of which I’m disappointed Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader is ending ‘cause that was the best one. I’ll read anything by Dan Slott. I was also following Bendis’ Iron Man but I’m behind on that because I just couldn’t get the whole Mary Jane Watson thing. Although, I just read Invincible Iron Man/Ironheart #1 which, frankly, pissed me off and isn’t a comic I’d give to my daughter even though it’s sort of aimed at her. She’s into Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, which is really an excuse for me buying and reading it. David Gallaher and Steve Ellis’ The Only Living Boy is another good one for readers of her age – she’s 11, nearly 12. 

Oh, and I’m waiting for someone to hurry up and translate Frederik Peeters’ RG into English, because I’m slow at reading French and my life is getting shorter by the day. If you don’t know his stuff, read AAMA, and read it now.

PCB Blog: Excellent. Thank you very much for your time, Nick, and I look forward to reading more of your work on the Tenth Doctor during Year Three.

Nick Abadzis is available on Twitter under the username @NickAbadzis. Please give him a follow and let him know if you enjoyed this interview.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 3) # 1 was released on 11th January and is available in all good comic book shops, as well as digitally via the Comixology website, where users can also subscribe and receive copies of the remaining issues each month.

Previous Tenth Doctor stories have been collected into trade paperbacks and are available in all good comic shops!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Review - Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 3) # 1

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 3) # 1
"Breakfast at Tyranny's" - Part 1 (of 2)
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Valeria Favoccia & Giorgia Sposito
Colours by: Hi-Fi & Arianna Florean

Nick Abadzis kicks off his third volume of Tenth Doctor stories with a bang, shaking up the status-quo by thrusting his lead characters in an alternate life. In a similar vein to The Matrix, The Doctor, Gabby and Cindy are wired into a virtual construct whilst their real bodies are held captive elsewhere. Abadzis’ script certainly raises plenty of questions and it is great fun to see the Doctor out of his depth and suffering from amnesia on the streets of New York. While there are some echoes of the “Arena of Fear” story-arc from the previous volume, Abadzis manages to keep the reader enthralled by introducing some surprising developments to his cast. The most notable change is seeing Cindy in a romantic relationship with Cleo, especially since the character had been portrayed as heterosexual. That said, there were some subtle hints of her sexuality mentioned in the final issues of Year Two. I’m intrigued to see how this plays out once Cindy finds herself out of the virtual world. Most of this first issue is focused on establishing this new reality, but Abadzis teases some answers behind the mystery at the end of this storyline. I have two theories as to who is behind this attack on the Doctor, given the abundance of Cindy ‘clones’ found in the real world, I suspect that it is either the Zygons or the Autons attempting to replicate our heroes whilst placing them in a form of stasis.

This issue sees the introduction of a new artist to the series as Valeria Favoccia joins the team, handling the Doctor’s sequences in the virtual world. I really like Favoccia’s take on the Doctor, portraying him in a dishevelled manner to fit alongside his new role as the homeless “Smithy”. While her art style differs from previous regular artists, Elena Casagrande and Giorgia Sposito, it still fits nicely with the series’ more light-hearted tone. Giorgia Sposito remains with the series, concentrating on the sequences with the two girls and filling the issue with her usual brand of gorgeous artwork and clear storytelling. Another addition to the crew, but on a fictional note, is Noobis – the new “rebooted” version of Anubis, who possesses a more innocent soul now that every trace of his father Sutekh has been removed from his personality. While he doesn’t get an opportunity to shine in this issue, his inclusion in the TARDIS team should provide a different tone for this third year of stories. After a prolonged conclusion to the Osirian storyline that closed out the second volume, it is refreshing to see the creative team tackling a brand-new story arc and the added mystery over the new status-quo will have readers gripped.

Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 3) # 1 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!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 17

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 17
"Old Girl: War of Gods" - Part 5 (of 5)
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Giorgia Sposito
Colours by: Hi-Fi

After an additional two issues added to the Tenth Doctor's second year of comic-book adventures, we finally reach the 'season finale' which addresses many of the plot threads that have been prevalent in the series since the Year One finale. With Sutekh increasing in power now that he has escaped from the void, the Doctor and his companions find themselves on the back foot as they attempt to discover a way to banish him back to the netherworld. Despite the high stakes involved in this storyline, Nick Abadzis continues to focus on his characters and the impact that events have on their relationship. There's a noble sacrifice at the end of this chapter that serves to remind the Doctor how his actions often leads others to their deaths, and while the character in question was a fun addition to the cast – her absence has little impact on the series, and in some ways, it was almost expected. It was also enjoyable to see Abadzis focus on the relationship between Gabby and Cindy, and how travelling with the Doctor has changed them both in dramatic ways. This is one of my favourite aspects of Abadzis' scripts and I hope Year Three will continue to develop these characters in unexpected ways.

Giorgia Sposito continues to provide some top-notch artwork for this final issue of the volume, making use of huge double-page spreads to emphasise the importance of these epic set-pieces. Sposito has done a fantastic job at carrying this series throughout the past year or so, working alongside a bevy of other artists to establish a strong sense of continuity in the artwork. There's a light-hearted mood to her artwork that suits the Tenth Doctor's era perfectly, and I love how she manages to capture that sense of wonder in all of the alien locales that she brings to life on the page. Overall, this has been a strong year of adventures for the Tenth Doctor and one that has seen series writer Nick Abadzis adopt a more serialised approach to the story-telling with the Osirian subplot bubbling away in the background throughout the majority of the issues. Personally, I was hoping that this season finale would spell the end of the Anubis / Sutekh storyline, but the blurb for Year Three seems to suggest that the memory-wiped “Noobis” will be joining the Doctor on his travels. While I welcome the addition of a different type of companion to the TARDIS, I do hope Abadzis is able to keep the same balance of shorter one-off adventures and more 'mythology'-based storylines that he maintained throughout this year.

Score - 8.9 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 17 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!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 16

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 16
"Old Girl: War of Gods" - Part 4 (of 5)
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Giorgia Sposito
Colours by: Hi-Fi

Nick Abadzis makes sure that the ‘drama dial is turned up to eleven’ on this penultimate issue of the Tenth Doctor’s second year of stories. With Sutekh free from his imprisonment in the void, he quickly puts the Doctor and his allies on the back foot as he begins his plans to take over the universe. Abadzis addresses one of the recurring plot threads of this ‘season’ by having the King Nocturne return to plague Cindy – a particularly heartless moment as he taunts her over her dead lover – only to have him destroyed at the hands of Sutekh. While this provides some resolution to the Nocturnes story-arc, it also provides a demonstration of Sutekh’s immense power. My only criticism is how ineffectual the Doctor seems in this episode as he fails to prevent Sutekh’s ascension and has to be saved countless times by his companions. I do like how Abadzis have developed both Gabby and Cindy into capable adventurers, with their own strengths and independence, but this also means the Doctor is diminished at times - much like how Clara’s “impossible girl” act reduced the Eleventh Doctor’s role at times.

The artwork from Giorgia Sposito remains as flawless as ever, lending a real mystical quality that befits the storyline. Her interpretation of Anubis and Sutekh is brilliant, adding a touch of regal elegance to the horse-faced Osirian ‘gods’ as they unleash disaster upon the universe. There’s even a nifty nod back to the “Pyramids of Mars” serial that allows Sposito to showcase her version of the Fourth Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith. Based on this quick peek, I’d love to see her tackle the character on a more prolonged basis – perhaps for another miniseries one day in the future? Despite the epic nature of Abadzis’ scripting, Sposito’s art shines through with clear, concise storytelling that helps with the more complicated elements of the storyline. I love the way that Sposito captures the tone of Abadzis’ script, bringing to life on the page without fault and maintaining the fine balance between light and darkness, even when things seem at their most dire. Abadzis and Sposito have done a damn fine job at establishing excitement and dramatic tension for the final installment of “Old Girl” – although I do hope that the Doctor will have a more active role in resolving the threat. Hopefully the conclusion of this storyline will close the book on the Anubis / Osirian storyline so that Abadzis can focus on the goings-on with Ancient Gallifrey and the Untempered Schism.

Score - 9.1 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 16 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!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Review - Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 5 (of 5)

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 5 (of 5)
"Supremacy of the Cybermen" - Part 5 (of 5)
Written by: George Mann & Cavan Scott
Art by: Ivan Rodriguez
Colours by: Nicola Righi

Even though it was obvious that this series would need to hit the reset button to restore events to normal, Cavan Scott and George Mann manage to make this final chapter engaging and utterly thrilling throughout. Focused firmly on the Twelfth Doctor and Rassilon, this issue sees these two characters working together to use the Cybermen’s Cyberiad against them and restore the original timeline, thus undoing the death and destruction caused by the Cybermen. The grandiose nature of this reset button feels very Russell T. Davies in nature, mirroring similar unlikely deus-ex-machinas seen in previous season finales “Last of the Time Lords” and “Journey’s End”. Sure, it gets a bit timey-wimey and convenient, but the sheer emotional impact of the moment ensures that the somewhat shaky logic of the reboot is overlooked. The epilogue, which shows the Twelfth Doctor maintaining memories of the death and destruction, is rather poignant and reminds me of “Heaven Sent” and the internal and private torment that the Doctor carries about inside of him. Even though the events of this miniseries are undone by the end, it leaves an indelible mark on Gallifrey’s rebel time-lord.

With the heavy focus on the Twelfth Doctor story segments, Ivan Rodriguez handles the reins for this final issue and his art style is perfect for the dark and bleak future that the Cybermen have created. He puts in an incredible amount of detail and emotion into the panels where the Doctor is becoming incorporated into the Cyberiad, particularly the Tenth Doctor’s conversion into the Cyber-king, which is quite chilling to see. It’s quite unnerving to see the Doctor broken and beaten across these various timelines, so once the reset occurs, it is a relief to see the Cybermen’s work being undone across a series of panels spanning multiple timelines. Overall, this has been a great little miniseries which took the concept of a multi-Doctor storyline but added the unique twist of keeping each incarnation of the Doctor separate and encountering the same threat. While some readers might be angry that the story hinged on a ‘cosmic reset’, it should be noted that many televised Doctor Who stories do the same, so it’s not unfamiliar territory for the franchise.

Scott and Mann definitely should be applauded for creating a brilliant adventure that ties deeply into the events of “Hell Bent” and providing a worthy ‘sequel’ to that chapter. I’m sure it was tremendous fun for the writers to unleash the Cybermen against all the different eras of the Doctor, and part of me was disappointed that we didn’t see more from the first eight Doctors in this storyline, although given the limited space available, it makes total sense why the comic was restricted to the most recent four. With the bar set so high for its Doctor Who event series, Titan Comics will have a hard time beating “Four Doctors” and “Supremacy of the Cybermen” next year!

Score - 9.5 out of 10

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 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 mini-series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Review - Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 4 (of 5)

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 4 (of 5)
"Supremacy of the Cybermen" - Part 4 (of 5)
Written by: George Mann & Cavan Scott
Art by: Ivan Rodriguez & Walter Geovanni
Colours by: Nicola Righi

Things take a deadly turn for the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors as their various timelines begin to crumble around them and each incarnation finds themselves assimilated into the Cybermen’s hive-mind. With a reset button no doubt waiting in the wings, Cavan Scott and George Mann have some fun with the ‘doomed’ timelines featuring the earlier incarnations of the Doctor, testing each of them to limit. Even though these tragic events are destined to be undone, there is something chilling about seeing the Ninth Doctor blowing up the Earth to prevent the Cybermen from accessing it, or the Tenth Doctor merging with a Cyber-King to prevent it from attacking the Sontarans. I suspect that somehow the actions of these Doctors will somehow have some ripple effect that will allow the Twelfth Doctor to succeed against his foes – or perhaps the technology that Rassilon has implemented in the Eye of Harmony may provide the solution to undoing all of the Cybermen’s work.

Ivan Rodriguez and Walter Geovanni do a superb job of capturing the desperation and emotion in each section of this multi-layered story, particularly in the Tenth Doctor’s chapter. The pained and determined expression on his face after he thinks Gabby and Cindy have died feels utterly authentic to the character and David Tennant’s portrayal of him. There’s plenty going on in this penultimate issue and both artists rise to the challenge with confidence. While the multi-narrative structure of this event has slowed the pace down at times, it remains an effective and innovative way to tell a multi-Doctor storyline without having the characters meet. Evoking memories of the universe-ending climax to “The Pandorica Opens”, this penultimate episode certainly increases the tension to unbearable levels and I cannot wait to see how Scott and Mann intend to resolve this truly epic cliff-hanger in the space of one issue. It’s a tall task, but I have every faith in the two writers after their amazing work in their individual Doctor Who titles.

Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 4 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 mini-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!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Review - Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 3 (of 5)

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 3 (of 5)
"Supremacy of the Cybermen" - Part 3 (of 5)
Written by: George Mann & Cavan Scott
Art by: Ivan Rodriguez & Walter Geovanni
Colours by: Nicola Righi

Cavan Scott and George Mann continue to thrust the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors into battle against the Cybermen across a variety of different time-zones in this third issue of the Supremacy of the Cybermen miniseries. Splitting the narrative four ways has become something of a double-edged sword for this series – while it ensures the storyline has the right amount of epic scope as the Cybermen traverse time and space to dominate the galaxy, it also means that the issues feel a bit cluttered as each Doctor vies for attention. Given some of the dramatic events of this episode, it is clear that the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctor plot threads are going to be rewritten and undone before the end of the series with no lasting effects, which again diminishes some of the impact of those sequences. That said, it is great fun to see the Tenth Doctor fighting alongside the Sontaran armies against hulking great Cyberkings and the Eleventh Doctor battling hordes of Cyber-Silurians. Scott and Mann do their best to keep all four sections moving along at a fast pace, but sometimes it feels that the Twelfth Doctor section is the only essential element of the story. Hopefully the other sequences will have more of an influence on the main plot in the final two issues of the series.

Ivan Rodriguez and Walter Geovanni continue to handle art duties with Rodriguez handling the ‘past Doctors’ adventures as Geovanni focuses on the central Twelfth Doctor plot thread. This division of artists hammers home the separation between the ‘real’ story and the ‘disposable’ plot threads of the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. Rodriguez does a great job at conveying the increasing peril and lack of hope for the past Doctors as each adventure comes to a downbeat ending with the Cybermen achieving victory in each timeline. This issue also references the one-page prologues that appeared throughout the rest of the Titan Comics Doctor Who books which saw every incarnation of the Doctor attacked by the Cybermen at various points in their existence. This precision attack into the Doctor’s past reminds me of the Great Intelligence’s attempt to kill the Doctor during “The Name of the Doctor” and I wonder if a similar fix will be implemented to undo the damage to the time-stream. Even though much of this story will be undone by a cosmic reset button, I am eagerly awaiting the explanation that Scott and Mann have to this grand dilemma that the Doctor finds himself in. The writing duo have certainly stacked the odds against the Doctor here and I literally have no idea how he can get himself out of this predicament! While this event may have some minor structural flaws, it remains fully engaging and a treat for old-school Doctor Who fans. This has been the perfect way to celebrate the Cybermen’s 50th anniversary!

Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 3 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 mini-series when you pick up your copy!

Review - Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 14

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 14
"Old Girl: Primeval" - Part 2 (of 5)
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Giorgia Sposito
Colours by: Arianna Florean

After re-establishing the main Year Two threat of Anubis and Sutekh in the previous issue, Nick Abadzis takes the Doctor and Cindy on a brief diversion to Ancient Gallifrey to tackle the dangling plot thread from the “The Wishing Well Witch”, which saw time-sensitive children thrown into the Untempered Schism and becoming a deadly creature. This issue readdresses this plot point to an extent, but it's clear that there is plenty more to come in future episodes. Abadzis' script bounces along nicely, introducing a new threat in the Time Sentinels and transporting the Doctor to a version of Gallifrey that is alien to even him. The relationship between the Doctor and Cindy once again takes the focus of this storyline and it seems clear that Abadzis enjoys the dynamic between the two, as Cindy struggles for approval and legitimacy as a companion. Upon learning that the Doctor has programmed her name into the emergency TARDIS control protocol, she earns her place as a 'real companion' and even saves the day in dramatic fashion. I have a strong suspicion that Abadzis is building up the relationship between Cindy and the Doctor because she is going to betray his trust – possibly through using the bubbles to the parallel universe to somehow attempt to save her lost love, Roscoe.

Giorgia Sposito works wonders on art duties as usual, creating a wonderfully clear and straight-forward narrative that helps counter the complex and 'timey-wimey' storytelling that is often in play. I love the simplistic design of the Time Sentinels and how they resemble game-pieces from a board game, and I'm looking forward to them becoming an ongoing threat in the Doctor's life – echoing similar monsters from the television show such as the Spoonheads and Handbots. Given Abadzis' penchant for revisiting past story-arcs at a later date, I suspect that this story-arc will form the focus of the third year of stories, unless he is able to tie it altogether with the Anubis plot. Personally, I think it should be given some room to breathe in the next volume, especially since it involves Gallifrey and the secret history of the Time Lords. Overall, this was a strong installment of the “Old Girl” storyline and one that offered a sneak peek at where the series is headed. Confident and able to juggle multiple story-arcs with ease, Abadzis proves his worth as a Doctor Who writer, taking the Tenth Doctor on a variety of exciting adventures far beyond those of the TV show. As it stands, I'm looking forward to seeing him return to the Time Sentinels and their curious experiments with the Untempered Schism rather than the conflict between Anubis and Sutekh, but either way it remains a solid finale to the second year of stories.

Score - 8.9 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 14 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!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Review - Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 2 (of 5)

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 2 (of 5)
"Supremacy of the Cybermen" - Part 2 (of 5)
Written by: George Mann & Cavan Scott
Art by: Ivan Rodriguez & Walter Geovanni
Colours by: Nicola Righi

Cavan Scott and George Mann’s second issue of their Doctor Who epic event “Supremacy of the Cybermen” continues to weave its multiple narratives together, making use of dual artists to distinguish between the ‘present day’ events of the Twelfth Doctor and the Cyber-President Rassilon, and the altered timelines of the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. The pair have also written short one-page prologues featuring the other eight incarnations of the Doctor having encounters with the Cybermen which contradicts the established timeline, hinting at some time-travelling manipulation on the part of the Cyber-army. This suggests that unlike last year’s event “The Four Doctors” which took the form of a traditional multi-Doctor serial, Scott and Mann intend to keep the various incarnations of the Doctor separated throughout the duration of this event and will focus on the alternate timelines each of them find themselves in. This is a great decision and allows Titan Comics to present a different approach to the multi-Doctor story-arc and keeps the action shifting between narratives.

Including the Sontarans and Silurians in the event is another master-stroke, which not only demonstrates the extent of the Cybermen’s influence over the time-stream but also offers recognisable secondary threats for each Doctor to deal with. The one nit-pick of having four narratives running concurrently throughout the comic is that it does feel slightly cramped at times and there isn’t a great deal of advancement made in each section. While the initial issue had a great deal of shock value by throwing the readers (and the Doctor) into the deep end, this follow-up feels a bit slower in pace and focused on explaining the situation each Doctor finds themselves in. That said, the connections to the television show are the strongest they’ve ever been as this story acts as a direct sequel to Season 9’s closer “Hell Bent”, following Rassilon after his exile from Gallifrey and giving readers more ‘screen-time’ on the Doctor’s home planet. As such, this whole story-arc feels more integral to the continuity of the series, picking up directly on loose plot threads from the show itself.

Ivan Rodriguez continues to provide art duties for the ‘past Doctors’ sequences, whilst Walter Geovanni stands in for Alessandro Vitti on the ‘present day’ Twelfth Doctor story-arc on Gallifrey. Despite the use of two different artists, this series flows together nicely and could have even benefited from four different artists working on one Doctor each. That said, Rodriguez does a brilliant job on the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctor narratives, bringing both the Silurian and Sontarans to life on the page. Geovanni’s take on a Cyberman-infested Gallifrey is equally impressive and reflects many of the visuals introduced in “Hell Bent”, even providing a brief flashback to the events from that key episode. While Geovanni’s panels lacks the same grittiness and intensity seen in Vitti’s artwork from the previous issue, it is still a strong showing from the Brazilian artist and suits the change in scenery from Karn to Gallifrey well.

Overall, this was a worthy follow-up to the series’ amazing first issue and it certainly maintains much of the momentum and pace from the Cyberman’s invasion of time. At times, the comic does feel a bit dense with four narratives competing for prominence but that just adds to the ‘season finale’ feel of the series. Scott and Mann have both proven themselves to be consummate fans of Doctor Who and its lengthy history, and that shows in their energy and desire to push the boundaries in their storytelling. This is a storyline that could only be told in the comics, reaching far back across all of the Doctor’s past incarnations and changing history with alarming levels of destruction. Sure, there will probably be a cosmic reset button at the end of this adventure, but its great fun to watch two die-hard fans of the series play about in the Doctor Who sandbox with such glee.

Score - 9.2 out of 10

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 2 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 mini-series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13
"Old Girl: Aftermath" - Part 1 (of 5)
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Eleonora Carlini & Giorgia Sposito
Colours by: Arianna Florean with Adele Matera

After the emotional trauma of the previous story, writer Nick Abadzis adopts a fairly low-key approach for this first episode of his Year Two 'season finale'. Starting off with his characters touching base with their families in Brooklyn, Abadzis skillfully begins to build upon the plot threads he has sown throughout the past twenty-plus issues. Clearly, something isn't right with Cindy Wu, and Abadzis hints at an alternate motivation behind her joining the TARDIS aside from wanting to help Gabby. Dropping hints about parallel universes and course-correction, I wonder if Cindy will attempt to Dorothy's alternate universes to save Roscoe from death. Also interesting to note is that the Doctor and Cindy have travelled to the Primordial times, which is the same time period that the Time Lord children were thrown into the untempered Schism to become the Wishing Well Witch – it seems as if Abadzis is going to weave that seemingly separate plot thread into his grand tapestry after all. While this issue was largely set-up for forthcoming events, it was wonderfully written and flowed perfectly. It actually felt longer than usual, and I had to double-check the page count to see whether Titan Comics had slipped in some extra pages.

Eleonora Carlini and Giorgia Sposito team-up on art duties for this issue, and the result is as spell-binding as you'd imagine. Both artists are absolutely spectacular and their art styles complement each other perfectly – it's hard to tell the difference at times! The pair manage to infuse their panels with such emotion, and the sequences with Cindy manage to convey her grief and anger at the universe perfectly. It's also fantastic to see the transition from the real-world of Brooklyn to the extra-terrestrial gardens of Anubis. The Tenth Doctor series has been blessed with an absolutely wonderful creative team over the past two years, all of which have maintained the series' distinctive visual flair throughout. As the introduction to this year's 'season finale', this issue does a terrific job of returning to the ongoing Osirian sub-plot that has overseen the whole of Year Two. Ultimately, I'm not the greatest fan of this Anubis storyline, but Abadzis ensures that the series remains engaging throughout and even throws in some potential tangents to explore in his five-episode season finale. With such rich character development at the heart of this series, Abadzis and his brilliant creative team have managed to create a Doctor Who comic series where the reader cares more about the companions than the Doctor himself.

Score - 8.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13 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!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

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

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 12
"Music Man"
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Giorgia Sposito
Colours by: Arianna Florean

Death is the only companion that the Doctor has never parted ways with and this issue of the Tenth Doctor comic book series showcases the heavy cost that those who travel with the Time Lord must sometimes pay. There’s an eerie subdued tone to this issue, as Gabby and the Doctor find themselves surrounded by the unconscious and the dead following the cliff-hanger confrontation against the Nocturne seen in the preceding issue. While I was predicting an emotional resolution to Gabby’s “holiday romance” with Roscoe, I didn’t expect it to be as brutally harsh as it ended up. Nick Abadzis’ script tapped into the Doctor’s guilt and awkwardness surrounding death, as he and Gabby brought Roscoe’s body back from the future to be united with a distraught Cindy. That final image was surprisingly effecting and put an emotional sting onto the end of a fairly standard adventure. I’m very interested to see how this tragedy will shape Cindy, who has proven to be the more intriguing of the two female companions accompanying the Doctor through this adventure. Since she is not seen in Supremacy of the Cybermen, which is presumably set between Years Two and Three of the series, I suspect that Cindy may take a leave of absence in the near future.

Giorgia Sposito’s artwork really helps set the tone for this story-arc whilst maintaining the same style utilised by the various artists on this series to date. Sposito manages to bring a distinctive haunting quality to those final few pages as the Doctor and Gabby break the news of Roscoe’s death to their friend. As a whole, this was an entertaining diversion from the series’ central story-arc involving Anubis and offered genuine character development for its trio of lead characters. Abadzis’ script has a wonderful maturity to it, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing Gabby and Cindy grow as characters under the Doctor’s tutelage. With three issues remaining of this second year of adventures, it seems as if we’re heading towards the “season finale” and perhaps Abadzis will deal with the Anubis story-arc that has hung over this series since the Year One finale. Abadzis has seeded plenty more sub-plots in his narrative recently, such as the mystery surrounding the Time Lords and the Untempered Schism and Gabby’s growing psychic powers, both of which will presumably be dealt with in the next volume. I’m really enjoying Abadzis’ unique blend of mythology and mysticism that pervades his stories, and while it might not be typical Doctor Who fare at times, it has provided some fun stories and an in-depth exploration of the Doctor’s relationship with his companions.

Score - 8.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 12 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!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Review - Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 1 (of 5)

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 1 (of 5)
"Supremacy of the Cybermen" - Part 1 (of 5)
Written by: George Mann & Cavan Scott
Art by: Alessandro Vitti & Ivan Rodriguez
Colours by: Nicola Righi

Last year’s Doctor Who comics event, “The Four Doctors” had a suitably epic feel as the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth incarnations of the Doctor dealt with the after-effects of the War Doctor’s involvement in the Time War. While that event was a fun call-back to the classic multi-Doctor adventures of the past, and dealt with plot threads from the series’ 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor”, this latest event looks to the future and directly addresses plot points from the recent season finale, “Hell Bent”. Deeply entrenched in the series’ continuity, the Twelfth Doctor sequences in this issue feel like a natural continuation of the Doctor’s adventures in Season Nine, mopping up the loose ends from “Hell Bent” like a janitor working overtime. I love the way that writers Cavan Scott and George Mann literally immerse the reader in Doctor Who’s rich and complex history, cherry-picking elements from all of the featured Doctor’s eras. There’s a real sense of importance from this issue, perhaps due to the fact it spins out of the recent series and makes changes to the status-quo in regards to important characters such as Rassilon and Ohila.

Wisely keeping the Doctors separated for the time-being, this opening issue felt operatic in tone as Scott and Mann balanced the four Doctors in their separate timelines, cutting between each narrative throughout the issue and ending each plot thread with a cliff-hanger. Not only does the story feature Cybermen, but two other iconic Doctor Who monsters make their appearances under the thrall of the Cybermen. Judging from the partial conversions, it seems that Scott and Mann will be making use of the concepts and technologies introduced in “Nightmare in Silver” – yet, there are plenty of references to Cybermen of all eras here. I certainly hope we see some old-school “The Tenth Planet” Mondasian Cybermen at some point, as I love their classic mesh cloth design. I also appreciated the synopsis at the front of the issue, which reminds readers of each Doctor’s last encounter with the Cybermen – pointing out that the Ninth Doctor has yet to meet them in that body – a fact I’d overlooked. Given that Rose has no knowledge of the Cybermen when she meets them in “Rise of the Cybermen”, I suspect something will ‘reset’ the status-quo of that particular timeline – not a complete surprise, given that London has been reduced to a post-apocalyptic waste.

The art team of Alessandro Vitti and Ivan Rodriguez easily rise to the challenge of this daunting multi-Doctor story spanning multiple time-zones and planets. The scenes taking place on Karn effortlessly evoke the nightmarish landscape of the ruined planet, bringing back memories of the classic Fourth Doctor adventure, “The Brain of Morbius”. I’m not sure how the art is split between the two artists, but the whole issue felt consistent throughout, with both artists complementing each other nicely. With such a varied narrative, Vitti and Rodriguez’s artwork is absolutely vital in ensuring readers don’t get confused during the scene changes, and their distinctive background work helps achieve a firm separation between plot-threads. There’s a real sense of pace to this adventure, partly down to the strong script and also due to the absolutely pitch-perfect artwork from both Vitti and Rodriguez. Their grittier style offers a different take on the multi-Doctor storyline, much darker and grimier than Neil Edwards’ work on “The Four Doctors”, and it perfectly suits the Cybermen’s invasion of the Doctor’s timeline.

Without a doubt, this is the best Doctor Who comic that Titan Comics has published to date. Filled with plenty of continuity nods for hard-core Whovians like myself, “Supremacy of the Cybermen” is a delight to read. Scott and Mann have captured the grand operatic stylings seen during Steven Moffat’s run and delivered a worthy sequel to “Hell Bent” that presents the Cybermen as a worthy challenger to the Dalek’s claims of ‘supremacy’. Joined with artists whose style encapsulates the doom-laden tone of the book, these writers have really made an event out of this storyline, which acts as the perfect cap to Titan Comics’ second year of publishing Doctor Who comics. If you haven’t read a single one of their comics since July 2014 or you’re a lapsed reader who has left the numerous series’ behind, you should rush down to the local comic store with your cash in hand, or begin downloading furiously from Comixology, because this story is THAT important for Doctor Who fans, and you won’t want to miss out!

Score - 10 out of 10

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen # 1 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 mini-series when you pick up your copy!
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