Showing posts with label 11th Doctor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 11th Doctor. Show all posts

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 3) # 1

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 3) # 1
"Remembrance"
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: INJ Culbard
Colours by: Triona Farrell

Rob Williams launches the third year of the Eleventh Doctor series with a bang, cramming plenty of action and adventure into a single issue as his script runs through the full gamut of emotions. Starting off with satirical comedy as multiple clones of Nigel Farage sprouting the familiar-sounding mantra of “Britzit” in a manner not entirely dissimilar to the Daleks, Williams then hits a more sombre note as he addresses David Bowie’s untimely death through the reintroduction of his in-universe analogue, Jones. Now that the long-form storytelling and operatic plotline of Year Two has come to a conclusion, Williams has the opportunity to reference current events through the prism of Doctor Who. The sequence set in a ‘post-Britzit’ London is hilarious, especially with the Boris Johnson cameo at the end – and while the sequence is a nice nod towards the political upsets of 2016, it also serves to showcase Alice’s increased confidence in her role as companion - something which may become a crucial part of this third year of stories.


After wowing the audience with his Time War sequences during the Year Two storyline, INJ Culbard returns to play in the Eleventh Doctor’s sandbox instead. His artwork suits the frenetic action of the series perfectly and I love his interpretation of Alice and the Doctor. I’ve been a fan of his work on 2000AD with series such as Brass Sun and Brink, where he conjures up some truly imaginative worlds that leap off of the page. I’m really looking forward to seeing Culbard’s world-building in this series as Williams takes the Doctor off on a journey through time and space. Another element I’d almost forgotten, which is ironic given the subject matter, was the surprise appearance of a familiar villain on the final page. I won’t spoil their identity, but it is a modern Doctor Who monster whose appearance here predates their debut in the series proper. Given this particular monster’s skillset, I am very interesting to see how Williams utilises them in the upcoming storyline. While I loved the dense novelistic storytelling of the second year of adventures, it seems that this third year will adopt a more accessible approach to storytelling that won’t require a flow chart to follow!

Overall, this was a very promising start to the third year of adventures, making use of topical jokes to catch up on real-world events and introducing a popular foe ahead of their initial televised appearance. Rob Williams and INJ Culbard have both proven themselves to be consummate storytellers, and I look forward to seeing what adventures they have in store for the Doctor over the next year…


Score - 9.7 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 15

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 15
"Physician, Heal Thyself"
Written by: Si Spurrier & Rob Williams
Art by: Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

There's a huge amount of satisfaction to this issue as writers Si Spurrier and Rob Williams wrap up their sprawling fifteen-issue epic with a healthy dose of timey-wimey goodness and some brilliant narrative gymnastics. There's no denying that this has been a densely plotted and sometimes confusing journey for both the Doctor and the reader to follow, but Spurrier and Williams do their best to pull back the curtain and explain the inner-workings of this time-loop of an adventure. There are some grey areas that I was unsure of, and I think the whole fifteen-issue saga would definitely benefit from a re-read with the added foresight of knowing the ending in advance. While this novel-style approach to the storytelling has resulted in a fantastically well-plotted adventure rife with lots of intricate details and wonderful narrative loops, it has also been very tough to keep up with at times, especially in monthly installments. I've really enjoyed this long-form approach to telling a Doctor Who comic story, and it reminds me of how Season Six revolved around River Song's back-story with most of the episode's tying into her origins and the apparent death of the Doctor at Lake Silencio. This was one of the most intellectually-demanding and time-bending Doctor Who stories I've ever encountered and I applaud both Mr. Spurrier and Mr. Williams for pulling it off with such self-assured confidence.


To say that I'm a fan of Simon Fraser's artwork would be an understatement, I love the raw emotion that he infuses into his panel and I've followed his work since the early days of Nikolai Dante in 2000AD. Echoes of his work on that strip can be seen in his panels for this issue, particularly the blood-red rage of Abslom Daak as he unleashes his pent-up anger on the Squire. Fraser's work on the Abslom Daak sequences of this issue were absolutely brilliant and a worthy tribute to the character's co-creator, Steve Dillon, who passed away in October. I'm very glad that Daak got his happy ending – and only he would see banishment to a time-locked Time War infested with Daleks as a happy ending! Fraser's artwork was such a natural pairing for Abslom Daak that I would love to see him working on an Abslom Daak mini-series set during the Time War - come on, Titan Comics, you can make this happen!

Overall, this was a solid conclusion to a year's worth of spectacular stories, tying up the loose ends in true Doctor Who hyper-exposition fashion. Spurrier and Williams should definitely take a bow after fifteen issues of the most well-choreographed scripting that I've ever seen in a comic. It is truly a talent to keep track of all those loose plot threads over fifteen issues whilst ensuring that the story remains engaging, coherent and above all else, fun. I'm looking forward to seeing what Year Three brings the Eleventh Doctor under this extremely capable creative team.


Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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, 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, 26 October 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 14

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 14
"Gently Pulls the Strings"
Written by: Si Spurrier
Art by: Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

Things get bloody and brutal with this penultimate issue of the Eleventh Doctor’s second year of stories as Si Spurrier returns to writing duties alongside Simon Fraser’s gorgeous artwork. Not content with the cliff-hanger ending which saw Absalom Daak shot in the back by a Dalek-infested Squire, Spurrier repeats the trick by having the self-proclaimed Dalek Killer shot again in the mid-riff. Simon Fraser’s artwork really emphasises the brutality of this sequence, much like with his work in the absolutely epic Nikolai Dante for 2000AD. Despite the apparent fatal injuries, I suspect that Daak might pull through this one as one panel shows the Doctor tinkering with one of the medical machines whilst the Squire-Dalek isn’t looking. I’m guessing that once they left the TARDIS, Daak was placed into medical stasis alongside River Song. The carnage doesn’t end there as Squire-Dalek summons the Malignant and begins to wipe out the Overcaste in an attempt to usher in a new era of Dalek supremacy with the Volatix Cabal. Things look pretty damn dire and Spurrier does a fantastic job at tying the entire year-long arc together as his antagonist fills in the blanks from the past few issues.


Fraser’s artwork is absolutely fantastic at crafting a grim, downbeat atmosphere and that talent is put to great use in this chapter of the story as the Doctor and Alice face death and defeat. I love the way that Fraser captures the manner in which the Squire’s body is reacting to the Dalek buried underneath her flesh as recognisable elements of the creature poke themselves out of her face. It’s a truly horrific image – way scarier than the Human/Dalek hybrids introduced in “Asylum of the Daleks” and Fraser’s artwork communicates the gruesome nature of such a creation. My favourite panel is where the Squire’s mouth is wide open – red raw at the edges – to reveal the familiar trim of the Dalek’s “neck”. It’s the closest that Titan Comics have ever gotten to showing a Dalek on-panel, and while I’m not sure why the comic has restricted its appearances of the infamous monsters, the restraint certainly paid off as it ensured that the reveal of the Squire-Dalek was something truly horrendous. Fraser’s artwork has a haunting quality to it, and ensures that this epic conclusion with linger in the minds of its readers for some time to come.

Even though the central mystery has been revealed, Spurrier and Fraser managed to keep the penultimate episode of this year-long story arc wholly engaging and filled to the brim with tension and horror. This has been a wonderful display of densely plotted comic-book narrative, masterfully telling the story across fifteen issues with twists and turns aplenty. This isn’t just a great Doctor Who story, it’s a great story period - do yourself a favour and pick up the trade-paperbacks.


Score - 9.8 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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, 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!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13
"Fast Asleep"
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: INJ Culbard & Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

After a year of fake-outs and dead-ends, this issue of the Eleventh Doctor series from Titan Comics finally reveals who was responsible for the creation of the Malignant, and it looks like a bit of a group effort to be honest. These past three issues set deep within the Time War have been utterly enthralling from start to finish, providing some of the best Doctor Who sequences ever committed to the page. It has been such an engaging interlude that I could easily read an ongoing series focused on the War Doctor, The Master and The Squire as they traverse the battlefields of the Time War battling allies of the Daleks. Williams has the unenviable task of explaining the complicated origin of the Malignant and the Then and the Now, and despite paradoxes aplenty and enough timey-wimey goodness to feed a Weeping Angel for eternity, it remains a fantastic and easy to follow read. Never losing sight of the human element of this story (Alice), Williams crafts a cataclysmic universe-ending set piece that rivals the scale of ending of “The Pandorica Opens”. Not content with the rather clever revelations within his story, he caps it off with a humdinger of a cliff-hanger involving the Squire and Absalom Daak. Obviously, there’s no way this issue couldn’t earn any less than a 10 out of 10 score!


Artists INJ Culbard and Simon Fraser work together on this issue as each artist handles a different Doctor’s timeline and the result is a wonderful visual treat for the readers. The two artists’ styles gel rather nicely together and it’s a lovely directorial device to showcase the two different eras in play throughout this adventure. Given the whole whodunnit nature of this second year, the success of this storyline ultimately hinged on this reveal and I have to say that Williams (and Spurrier) have done an absolutely fantastic job on nailing that landing. While some elements of the big reveal were telegraphed, there were some lovely additions that I didn’t see coming. I particularly liked how Williams incorporated The Master’s regeneration into Derek Jacobi’s Doctor Yana from “Utopia” into his plot, providing an in-continuity explanation behind his memory loss in that episode. I’m a sucker for a bit of pre-destination in time-travel stories and this ‘time loop’ and the way that the Then and the Now was responsible for its own creation in a Dave Lister-sort of way was an inspired decision. This whole year of adventures has been fantastically plotted from the outset and the attention to detail and continuity has been utterly flawless. While I enjoyed the intricate narrative of the Eleventh Doctor’s Year One adventures, this mega-epic has surpassed it entirely. The Doctor better watch his back because he has two rival time-lords in Williams and Spurrier.


Score - 10 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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, 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!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 12

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 12
"Kill God"
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: INJ Culbard
Colours by: Marcio Menys

Taking the narrative baton from his co-writer, Rob Williams returns to the Eleventh Doctor comic series to continue the flashback tale from the Time War started by Si Spurrier last issue. INJ Culbard's beautiful artwork remains the backbone to this story-arc, offering a visual 'breath of fresh air' that suits this change to the series' timeline. The decision to send Alice back to the Time War to learn about (and potentially influence) the events that led to the Cylors becoming the Malignant has been an inspired one, riffing on Back to the Future by having Alice interacting with the past. Rather than a staid 'two-dimensional' flashback, the inclusion of a present day Alice adds a whole new element to proceedings and a touch of the 'timey wimey'. Williams' script maintains the pace set in Spurrier's initial installment, and he captures the world-weary nature of the War Doctor and the craftiness of the Master – even though these two are working together, the Master remains out for himself and quick to cause havoc. The sequence where the Master summons the Time Lord army, only for them to be wiped out by the Cylors, is a perfect example of his duplicity and is subtly showcased in the episode by Williams and Culbard.


There's some really great moments in this issue, especially the sequence that sees Alice pitted against one of the Volatix Cabal. Williams and Spurrier have created a really menacing set of creatures here, taking the genocidal efficiency of the Daleks and adding a dash of 'mad scientist' to the mix to create something truly ungodly. Given how the Daleks themselves have yet to be seen in a Titan Comics' comic, I'm guessing there's a rights-issue that prevents them from being shown. If this is true, then it may be a blessing in disguise as it has allowed Williams and Spurrier to create this wonderful subversion on the traditional Dalek. The highlight of this issue for me was the mischievous nature of the Master, and how his actions seemed to have caused some sort of paradox which presumably leads to the creation of the Malignant. As this series hurtles to its conclusion there's still plenty of unanswered questions left to go and I am hungry for answers! I've loved every moment of this dense narrative that refuses to compromise and instead has delivered a solid, twisty-turny plot rewarding those loyal readers who've stuck with it. While it might be a tough task for new readers to jump in at this climactic stage, I strongly urge any Whovians suffering from the Doctor Who drought to go back and pick up the collected editions to catch up. Doctor Who or not, this is some of the best science-fiction storytelling in comics today!


Score - 9.8 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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, 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, 27 July 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 11

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 11
"The Organ Grinder"
Written by: Si Spurrier
Art by: INJ Culbard
Colours by: Marcio Menys

Taking place during the Time War, this issue of the Eleventh Doctor comic series is a highly unusual departure from the series in that it doesn’t contain the Eleventh Doctor in it at all, instead Si Spurrier focuses on John Hurt’s War Doctor as the lead protagonist. With Alice trapped in the time-locked paradox, she is able to provide a first-hand look at the events of the Time War which led to the Eleventh Doctor’s current situation. Despite the absence of the series’ titular character, this issue loses none of its pace and in fact, it benefits from the sudden momentum in narrative as the readers are finally given answers to the mysteries that have ran deep throughout the past ten issues. I was quite pleased with the reveal of the Doctor’s young boy companion, which offers a surprising new addition to Doctor Who lore – adding a bonus incarnation of The Master in the Time War – presumably taking place between Alex MacQueen’s current incarnation in the Big Finish audios and Derek Jacobi’s Professor Yana who appeared in “Utopia”. It’s great to see the Doctor’s age-old nemesis inhabiting the body of a young boy, showcasing the unpredictability of Time Lord regeneration and even foreshadowing his eventual appearance as a female in Season Eight.

One of the highlights of this issue is the fabulously freaky Volatix Cabal – a group of deformed Daleks who are only allowed to exist because their madness allows them to create deadly weapons and creatures for use in the Time War. Spurrier captures the madness of these monsters perfectly during their interrogation scene with Alice, making use of different fonts to emphasise their craziness. Some of their bizarre non-sequiturs and creepy statements are quite disturbing and makes them much more scary than their Extermination-focused counterparts. They are a great twist on the Dalek concept, and a worthy enemy for the War Doctor to face during the Time War – interestingly, this issue seems to debut the concept of the Daleks hiding in Human skins, first seen in the TV episode “Asylum of the Daleks”, implying that the Volatix Cabal designed this ingenious weapon. Alongside this fantastic portrayal of the Daleks, Spurrier also strikes gold with his representation of the War Doctor. With scant appearances in the television show proper, the War Doctor is something of a blank slate and Spurrier captures the driven nature of this war-weary soldier perfectly, partnering him with his arch-nemesis in a desperate effort to end the Time War.


Making his debut on the Eleventh Doctor series is INJ Culbard, an artist who I've discovered through his absolutely beautiful work in 2000AD on series' such as Brass Sun and Brink. Unsurprisingly, his artwork here is truly brilliant too and within seconds, he makes the series his own. His interpretation of John Hurt's War Doctor is amazing, capturing both the actor's likeness and the inherent 'soul' of the character. One of Culbard's strengths is his ability to effortlessly convey the emotions of the characters through facial expressions, using subtle changes to communicate the thoughts and feelings going through their head. The sequence where Alice is being interrogated by the Volatix Cabal is a particular highlight, not only for Spurrier's creepy dialogue but also for the raw emotion that Culbard brings out in his artwork as a terrified Alice deals with some unbalanced Daleks.

After a slower pace in the past few issues, this Time War-centric installment has reinvigorated this already great series and propelled the narrative into a whole new direction. Ironically, this issue has benefitted from the removal of its lead character as the spotlight is shone firmly onto a new set of protagonists. Presumably, the next issue will continue to reveal the secrets of the Time War, leaving the final three episodes to bring this epic year-long adventure to a close. This second volume has been an ambitious Doctor Who story, and for the most part, Rob Williams and Si Spurrier have delivered a wonderfully epic adventure that scratches that Time War itch that many long-time fans of the series have. While it has been more dense and focused than its fellow Titan Comics series, I have loved the 'whodunnit' approach to this storyline and the twists and turns that Williams and Spurrier have dragged the reader through. Once completed, I have no doubt whatsoever that this storyline will be regarded as one of the high points in Doctor Who's comic-book history - It's just that good!


Score - 10 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 11 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!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10
"First Rule"
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

With its tenth issue, The Eleventh Doctor comic series ends its second act and places the Doctor at its lowest ebb since this storyline begun. Aware that he is unable to re-enter the Time War, he manipulated Alice’s emotions to spur her on to hijack the Master’s TARDIS and break the time-lock herself. Unfortunately, he also planned for Absalom Daak to accompany her into the Dalek-infested war zone but events didn’t quite work out that way. The scene where the Eleventh Doctor snaps and fights back against Daak is suitably shocking and displays a whole different side to the Eleventh Doctor as he finds himself with his back up against the wall and forced to rely on his companions, gambling their lives to further his plans. Simon Fraser’s artwork really helps nail the emotional consequences of the Doctor’s actions over the past few episodes, especially the sequence where a distraught Doctor pounds away on the Squire’s chest as she dies. It’s certainly a bleak chapter and as with the first year of stories, it focuses on the ‘grey area’ in which the Doctor operates – sometimes doing bad things for the greater good.


Rob Williams’ script crackles with energy, despite the dour mood to the story and effortlessly picks up and runs with the baton from Si Spurrier’s hard work over the past few issues. Despite the apparent death of the Squire in this episode, I’m convinced that there is more to this character than meets the eye and I suspect that her ‘death’ may end up revealing more about her true purpose and identity later down the road. While this episode is largely transitional in nature, the emotional impact from Fraser’s sublime artwork and Williams’ excellent script really elevate the episode above recent instalments. The current storyline is so engrossing and enthralling in equal measures that the monthly issues struggle to sate my hunger for more delicious Doctor Who adventures, and I suspect the story would benefit from a binge-read in trade paperback format, given its novel-style structure. Williams, Spurrier and their team of gifted artists have really struck gold with this storyline and ten episodes in, I remain fully engaged with the lengthy “whodunnit” and cannot wait to get some real answers to the conundrum that has haunted the Doctor since the beginning of this second volume. If you're not reading this fantastic series, you're missing out on some of the best Doctor Who stories told in any medium.


Score - 9.5 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10 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, 18 May 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 9

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 9
"Running To Stay Still"
Written by: Si Spurrier
Art by: Leandro Casco
Colours by: Rodrigo Fernandes

Si Spurrier continues to tell his sprawling Eleventh Doctor epic storyline, which sees the Doctor accused of war crimes during the Time War and struggling to prove his innocence. As opposed to the previous year's story which featured individual stories that connected together to form a wider 'season-long' story-arc, this year's tale has been far more serialised with a singular narrative thrust driving the adventure along. While this does make it trickier for new readers to jump into the storyline, it certainly means that long-term followers of the series are rewarded with a densely-plotted adventure, filled with clues and references to earlier issues. Spurrier, along with his co-writer Rob Williams, has crafted an absolutely thrilling “whodunnit” mystery that reaches into the heart of modern Doctor Who mythology and offers a satisfying glimpse at the untold events of the Last Great Time War.

Now armed with a potential suspect, the Doctor attempts to appeal to the Overcast to call off their temporal bounty hunter, The Then and The Now, but finds himself blocked by the Malignant. Spurrier continues to raise the stakes for the Doctor, putting River in stasis as the Malignant begins to eat away at her body and critically injuring the Squire in the midst of a battle. This is Doctor at his lowest point, plagued with self-doubt and faced with momentous odds – something we don't get to see too often in the television series itself. He's usually the man with a plan, and although previous issues have seen him manipulating events and his companions in a last-ditch effort to prove his innocence, there's the strong sense that this is the Doctor out of his depth for the first time in a long time. I must admit that I found myself uncomfortable witnessing the Doctor's cold, calculated approach of pushing Alice away and forcing her to use the Master's TARDIS to break into the time-locked planet of Lujhimene to discover answers to the mysteries that have plagued the team (and the readers) since the start of this second year of adventures. Clearly, this is a Doctor who no longer has the luxury of being the nice-guy and is forced to make some tough decisions to facilitate his endgame. I'm guessing he knows that Alice is destined to go back to the Time War, but has he just sent her to her death?


Returning to the series after helping out during the seventh issue, Leandro Casco brings a refreshing look to the Eleventh Doctor series with his thick, bold line-work and smooth, nearly-animated character designs. Despite his distinctive style, Casco manages to create consistency with the previous artists, particularly Warren Pleece. I love the way that Casco ensure the story flows along nicely, especially during the action-orientated scenes between the Squire and The Then and The Now. As with its earlier appearances, The Then and The Now affects the Doctor, bringing forth former and future regenerations at once as it plays with the Doctor's chronology. Casco does a brilliant job at illustrating this side-effect and I loved seeing his interpretation of the other incarnations of the Doctor merging into one. While Casco did a fantastic job at bringing the TARDIS crew to life, I'm not sure his style lends itself well to drawing the elderly, wrinkled skin of veteran companion, The Squire. To be fair, she is a tricky character to get right but Casco's smooth style didn't really gel with the increased lines on her face, resulting in a juxtaposition that made her look mummified at times. Luckily, she spent most of the issue in a space-suit so it wasn't too distracting! On the flip-side, I absolutely love his representation of River Song and her mass of curly hair – it manages to channel Alex Kingston's take on the character without being a carbon-copy portrait of the actress. Much like his version of Matt Smith's Doctor, it captures the essence of the character without being a slave to realism.

Once again, this was another solid chapter of the Eleventh Doctor comic-book series and what promises to be a turning point in the narrative structure of the series. I've enjoyed the twists and turns up until now, but with six issues remaining of this storyline, I hope that we're going to start seeing the pace change up as we head towards the third act of the adventure. I've enjoyed seeing the Doctor being chased relentlessly by The Then and The Now, but it has resulted in each episode feeling somewhat similar to each other in structure. The Doctor goes somewhere, discovers a clue, gets chased away by the Then and the Now – this seems to have been the format for the past few episodes, and while enjoyable, it has become slightly formulaic. With Alice's decision here, though, it seems like we're about to get a shake-up to the status-quo and a different type of adventure to those seen recently. Perhaps we'll get a War Doctor-centric issue instead, shedding light on the mystery of the Malignant and the strange boy glimpsed in flashbacks? I remain utterly enthralled by the mysteries that Spurrier and Williams have conjured up onto the page, and cannot wait to get some much-needed answers.


Score - 9.3 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 9 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, 20 April 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 8

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 8
"Downtime"
Written by: Si Spurrier
Art by: Warren Pleece
Colours by: Arianna Florean

After last issue’s revelation that the Master wasn't behind the creation of the Malignant, things are looking increasingly bleak for the Doctor as he finds himself once again in the frame for “war-crimes” during the Time War. While this latest issue is lot less action-packed than its predecessor, it is still a thoroughly entertaining chapter in the series’ long-running storyline, offering more clues and questions to the central mystery at the heart of Year Two. I’m really enjoying the “long-game” approach that Rob Williams and Si Spurrier have adopted with this series, teasing and plotting out key reveals way in advance. I’m appreciated the densely plotted narrative structure and both writers are doing a tremendous job at maintaining the suspense through each twist and turn of the tale. It feels like a natural evolution of Year One’s storyline, tightening the ‘flabby areas’ and creating a much more personal and continuity-driven mystery at the heart of the year-long narrative. That said, I have felt a slight twang of fatigue at the heavy focus on the “Whodunnit?” side of the storyline, given that the series hasn't really deviated from the plot point since its return.

One of the strengths of this issue, and in fact this entire storyline, is the way that both Spurrier and Williams examine a broken and insecure Doctor – this motif was briefly touched upon by Ewing and Williams in the first year, but came across as slightly inauthentic at times, but here it feels completely accurate and in keeping with the character’s shame of his War Doctor incarnation. As much as he likes to think he is a hero, he knows deep-down that he is capable of making cruel decisions and I love the way that Spurrier and Williams pick at this side of his personality, whilst maintaining the same Matt Smith ‘voice’ inherent to this incarnation of the character. This slower, more character-driven issue by Spurrier is good fun and I like the increased focus on Absalom Daak and seeing how his time as the Doctor’s companion has changed him for the better. Despite the slower pace, there’s some surprising revelations, the chief foremost being that a renegade sect of the Daleks may be the ones responsible for the Malignant, once again shifting suspicion from the Doctor. But there are still plenty of questions waiting to be answered, and much of the fun of this series is the way Williams and Spurrier litter the issues with reveals.


Recurring artist, Warren Pleece, is back on art duties for this issue and he does a fantastic job at bringing the ‘Mos Eisley Cantina’-esque space bar to life. It’s particularly apt that he is the artist on this issue as his interpretation of Absalom Daak seems to be softer and more sensitive than Simon Fraser's and it suits this more resigned (and dare I say, relaxed?) iteration of the Dalek Killer. However, that may be short-lived, given his discovery at the end of this issue that there are more Daleks to kill. In fact, this raises a question for me as I’m not sure why everyone thinks the Daleks are extinct as chronology-wise, they've escaped the Time War. The last Dalek story to take place in the series’ continuity (aside from the Stone Dalek in “The Pandorica Opens” / “The Big Bang”) is the Season 5 episode, “Victory of the Daleks”, which effectively rebooted the monsters, albeit in the gaudy Power Ranger colours that were never seen from again… I guess it’s just “timey wimey” stuff.

This was another strong episode of the Eleventh Doctor comic series, which manages to maintain the excitement and tension of its preceding episodes, adding more twists and turns to the central narrative of this year of stories. As we head past the half-way point, it seems like we’re coming to the end of the mysteries and we’re going to get more answers, which I’m looking forward to seeing. Spurrier and Williams have crafted a truly fantastic Doctor Who adventure that rewards loyal readers and long-time fans of the show. While there is a hint of fatigue settling in, Spurrier’s last page cliff-hanger promises the return of the Malignant to re-establish them as a threat following their absence in the series and remind readers of the crime that the Doctor is fighting to exonerate himself from. It’s extremely well-timed and will hopefully offer a shot in the arm to the series’ narrative as it begins to drift dangerously close to repetition. As I've said before, this is such a densely and intricately plotted series and I feel extremely confident putting my brain in the hands of Spurrier and Williams as they take it (and me) on a wonderful journey through some of the unexplored eras of Doctor Who history.


Score - 9.2 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 8 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 March 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 7

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 7
"The One" - Part 2 (of 2)
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Leandro Casco & Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

After last issue’s surprise reveal that the Doctor and his merry band of companions had broken through the time barrier and entered Shada, the prison planet of the Time Lords, Rob Williams takes time to have fun with the ambiguity over the canonicity of the legendary unfinished adventure by having the Doctor unable to remember his previous time on the planet. Williams also provides a subtle nod to the serial’s writer, Douglas Adams of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fame, with a rather depressive AI system that bears similarities with Marvin the Paranoid Android. Williams’ script manages to be very accessible and requires no real background knowledge of “Shada” and its complicated history, but rewards those hard-core Whovians who do know about it. There’s a fabulous pace and momentum to this story as the Doctor, River and the others attempt to break through the prison security to find out whether the Master was involved in the war-crimes that the Doctor has been accused of.

Unfortunately, this issue features two artists working together and while their styles do contrast against each other – the point at which the ‘switch-over’ occurs allows the transition to occur relatively seamlessly minimising disruption to the narrative. I really enjoyed Leandro Casco’s art in this issue, which offered a distinctive take on the Eleventh Doctor and his many companions. There’s a smoothness to Casco’s style that adds a minimalist flavour to his artwork and gives it an animated style – unfortunately, this does contrast against Simon Fraser’s more detail-laden style, which makes use of shading and intricate line-work. Both art styles are great and would have worked perfectly on their own, but blending the two together in one issue is slightly problematic. However, as I’ve said before, the editors picked the perfect transition moment to switch between the artists as the companions find themselves placed in stasis. I really enjoyed the sequence from Simon Fraser where the Squire uses her sword to prevent the Doctor from being placed into stasis for one thousand years. It’s full of dramatic tension and the emotion of the scene leapt out of the page – it was definitely the highlight of the issue for me.


Ultimately, this issue offered little in the way of answers, choosing instead to bombard the reader with more questions than before. For example, what was on the photo that the Doctor printed out of the Master’s TARDIS – was it something incriminating himself in the genocide of the Cylors? Also, what exactly is going on with Alice – the Shada AI made a blink and you’ll miss it reference to “fluctuating Tachyon technology in her neck”, further building up the mystery about her visions of the future. Obviously, the Squire remains a conundrum for both the Doctor and the readers, revealed her to be a being with no history – which suggests that she might be some kind of artificial construct? Interestingly, the Shada AI asks if she is the owner of the Master’s TARDIS – a question that goes unanswered, meaning that my theory that she is a hidden incarnation of the Master remains open, ready to be disproved at a later date! I’m really enjoying the multiple layers of mystery that Rob Williams and Si Spurrier have piled onto this storyline, crafting a “whodunit” that continues to confuse the reader and take them on a journey of twists and turns.

Despite the inconsistencies between the two artists, this was a strong issue of the Eleventh Doctor comic series which pulled the rug out from under the reader’s feet by dismissing the Master as the master-mind behind this storyline. Of course, it’s possible that he is still involved further down the line, but I’m intrigued to see where Spurrier and Williams intend to take this storyline over the coming months. With such a firm grasp on Doctor Who mythology, it feels like they have fifty-plus years of material at their hands. Forget “hiding behind the sofa”, the compelling mysteries of this storyline will have you shouting at the TV for answers, thanks to some absolutely brilliant storytelling from Spurrier and Williams. I can't recommend this series enough to fans of Doctor Who - go buy it now!


Score - 9.2 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 7 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, 2 March 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 6

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 6
"The One" - Part 1 (of 2)
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

River Song takes the spotlight in this sixth issue of the Eleventh Doctor comic series, following the shock revelation that the Doctor was breaking her out of the Stormcage prison to help him locate the Masters' TARDIS. Rob Williams wastes no time in establishing their unique dynamic on the page, playing with this pre-”A Good Man Goes to War” status of the Doctor having no idea who River Song actually is. Williams does a tremendous job at bringing River Song to life on the page, effortlessly channelling Alex Kingston's multi-faceted portrayal of the character. It's great to see the banter between her and the Doctor, with her teasing him about her knowledge of his future, but also the very real relationship beneath this surface flirting, when she tries to restore his confidence and offers him her TARDIS diary to snap him out of his self-doubt. While she may divide viewers in her appearances on the TV show itself, she is a tremendous addition to the cast of characters in this second year of adventures and I hope she reminds a strong presence in the remaining nine issues of this story-arc.

Simon Fraser returns to art duties after a two issue hiatus and absolutely reinvigorates the book. While I enjoyed Warren Pleece's art, Fraser's style feels much more dynamic and action-packed as he uses a variety of visual flourishes to inject pace into the story. I particularly liked the panel where he clicks his fingers to open the TARDIS doors and the group of companions rush towards the reader. It's a great image that showcases the juxtaposition of the TARDIS and the outside world – a visual that is often used to similarly great effect in the TV show itself. My favourite panel of the whole issue is where the Doctor throws River back her diary, demonstrating a return to the clever, confident trickster no longer plagued by the self-doubt of his past actions. Fraser also has a tricky action sequence to choreograph as the Doctor lures the Then and the Now to the TARDIS and then slingshots it to the time-locked wall allowing them to crash through the other side. Despite the complexity of the sequence, Fraser manages to interpret it well, allowing the reader to clearly understand the motion and action of the events.


While the inclusion of River Song shows a willingness to embrace “New Who” continuity by the series' writers, the conclusion of the issue which reveals that the Master's TARDIS is stored on Shada, the lost prison planet of the Time Lords was a particularly “deep cut” of classic series continuity. “Shada” was the un-produced TV serial for the Fourth Doctor, written by Douglas Adams of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fame. To see it referenced here is a particularly nice slice of continuity mining, much like Absalom Daak being brought from the Doctor Who Magazine's strips into the Eleventh Doctor's era. Unfortunately, I never watched the episodes of “Shada” that were made, nor have I read the book which was later published, but I am eager to see how the Doctor and his crew of companions instead to traverse the deadly prison planet to locate the Master's TARDIS. I have also developed a theory surrounding the Squire, following the clues given by River Song – she states outright that she wasn't a companion of the Doctor, but later says that she clearly does know the Doctor. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think The Squire is an incarnation of The Master, hidden in plain sight, and much like the Professor Yana incarnation, she will awaken and turn evil. In fact, she may even regenerate into the Professor Yana version at the end of this storyline.

This was an excellent episode of the ongoing mystery surrounding the Doctor's war-crimes and his efforts to clear his name. I love how Rob Williams and Si Spurrier are adding more and more nuggets of Doctor Who continuity into the adventure, really cementing this storyline into the DNA of the TV show. This series is packed with enough twists and turns to leave the reader out of breath and begging for the next big reveal. Williams and Spurrier have managed to turn what some may consider optional expanded universe material into vital, must-read stories for fans of the TV show. If you're not reading this series, you're missing out on some of the strongest and most rewarding Doctor Who adventures for some time! If you're a fan of the Time War and the early Eleventh Doctor era, then you need to be reading this stories – luckily, Titan Comics have been collecting the stories into trade paperbacks, so go back and check those out and then come back here for the next review!


Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 6 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, 27 January 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 5

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 5
"The Judas Goatee"
Written by: Si Spurrier
Art by: Warren Pleece
Colours by: Hi-Fi

After last issue's tease that the Master may be the architect behind the conspiracy framing the Doctor for despicable war-crimes during the Time War, this follow-up adventure from Si Spurrier and Warren Pleece sees the Doctor take his unlikely group of companions to yet another far-flung planet in order to get some tangible evidence that points to the Master's involvement. Spurrier certainly captures the multi-tasking element of the Doctor's personality well as the narrative feels just as layered as Inception, with multiple reasons for their diversion disclosed along the way. This frenetic scripting ensures that the reader gets caught up in the whirlwind of chaos left in the wake of the Doctor, creating a sense of urgency to this storyline as they struggle to catch up with a lead character who is several moves ahead, yet still trailing behind his greatest nemesis.  With the Doctor presented as distant and distracted, the series' gang of supporting characters prove all the more vital, acting as the reader's window into the action and allowing Spurrier (and Williams) the chance to explain their wonderfully complex plot to the layman. It's a technique often used in the TV show itself, and it's great to see it employed with great effect in comic book form.

I've admired Titan Comics' restraint in keeping the iconic Doctor Who monsters off the printed page, apart from some minor exceptions in the Weeping Angels and Cybermen, but it was great to see the Sontarans make their Titan Comics debut. It was a brilliantly placed cameo – not only was it a nice nod for the fans, but the concept of a war over facial hair works perfectly with identical clone armies of the Sontarans. This issue also gives us our first glimpse of the Master, albeit in silhouette, and judging from the goatees sported by the renegade Sontarans, I'm guessing we're going to see the classic iteration of the character, rather than John Simm or Michelle Gomez's incarnations. This decision certainly appeals to me, as I find the Roger Delgado version to be the definitive take on the character and I think the goatee perfectly defines the villainous nature of the Master.


In a rather surprising move, a third character from the TV series makes a cameo appearance at the end of this adventure as the Doctor and his companions break into the Stormcage prison to meet with River Song. It's a fantastic cliff-hanger and an inspired decision from the series writers as I'm sure River's presence will add a whole new dimension to the series, especially if she joins the team as a companion for the remainder of the story-arc. While River may be a somewhat divisive character amongst the Whovian fan-base, I am looking forward to seeing what her strong personality can bring to the series' status-quo. It's also quite a timely appearance given the recent Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song” and the Big Finish audio series, “The Diary of River Song – Series One”. It seems that years after her death, the character is still casting a heavy shadow over the Doctor Who franchise.

Whereas the first year of adventures merely dabbled with the TV show's monsters with appearances of the Nimon and the Cybermen, this second year of adventures feels firmly entrenched in the show's continuity referencing not only the Time War and War Doctor, but also bringing characters such as The Master, Sontarans and River Song into the mix. I'm a sucker for stories set during the gap between “Doctor Who: The Movie” and “Rose”, so it's great to see this era explored in spin-off media, especially since it seems the series is keen to move on and away from the Time War. With this increased focus on the War Doctor and the hidden adventures he underwent between “The Night of the Doctor” and his appearances in “The Day of the Doctor”, it would be great if Titan Comics released a War Doctor series, possibly once its Eighth Doctor mini-series has come to an end. Back to this series, I am thoroughly enjoying each issue of the Eleventh Doctor series as Spurrier and Williams spin together a rich tapestry of adventure filled with plenty of twists and turns. It's absolutely brilliant storytelling and essential reading for fans of the Doctor Who mythology.


Score - 9.5 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4
"Outrun"
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Warren Pleece
Colours by: Hi-Fi

This fourth issue of the 11th Doctor comic series sees the return of artist Warren Pleece, who drew some key issues in the first year of stories. Unfortunately, this change in artist does require a brief adjustment period after three issues of excellent Simon Fraser artwork. That's not to say that Pleece's artwork is sub-par, but there is a noticeable difference in styles that takes some getting used to. Fraser has certainly put his mark on Absalom Daak and The Squire, leaving Pleece's interpretations to feel less authentic. Again, the problem isn't with Pleece's artwork, but more the juxtaposition between art styles which seems far more jarring here compared to the other Doctor Who comic series where the artists tend to have similar styles, or are used on separate and distinct story-arcs. The fact that this is all one rolling storyline doesn't help mask the inconsistencies between art styles. That said, I do like the simple and straight-forward style that Pleece brings to the comic, bringing a different tone to the comic as the Doctor and his companions search for clues to the series' over-arching mystery.

The mystery surrounding whether The War Doctor was responsible for creating The Malignant during The Time War remains central to this second year of stories as writer Rob Williams introduces more clues, including a potential mastermind behind the whole scheme. As with the preceding issue, Alice sees a mixture of visions from the past and future, which seemingly make no sense out of context, but assures the reader that Williams and Spurrier have spun a narrative equally as complex and organised as the first year's “timey wimey” story-arc involving ServeYouINC. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each issue reveals more hidden pieces regarding The War Doctor and the Time War. I am a sucker for a good mystery – it's part of the reason why LOST became a personal obsession for six years of my life – and this series is shaping up to be a thoroughly rewarding read, bringing in recent revelations from “The Day of the Doctor” to create a truly compelling mystery from the very DNA of the show.


The reveal that the Master may be the one responsible for framing the Doctor was a huge surprise for me. For some reason, I'd assumed that he wouldn't be appearing in any of the Titan Comics spin-off media, especially considering chronologically these adventures take place after “The End of Time” where the Master gets sent back to the Time War with the rest of the Time Lords. I am very curious to see which incarnation of the Master we get to see in this adventure – whether it is John Simm's version before he regenerates into Michelle Gomez's Missy, or whether it is an unseen version from The Time War that eventually becomes Professor Yana (Derek Jacobi) from “Utopia”. Given the appearance of the little boy in a number of the War Doctor's flashback sequences over the past four issues, I also wonder whether the Master may have regenerated into the body of a child, creating a situation even more unusual than a Doctor and Master of opposite genders.

Overall, this was another strong installment for the Eleventh Doctor's second year of adventures - one that further developed the series' central mystery but also provided the first glimmer of actual answers. I'm extremely excited at the possibility of Williams and Spurrier tackling the Doctor / Master relationship, especially considering the wide variety of incarnations that are available for them to use. As much as I'd love to see a Roger Delgado Master appear, I am hoping for a bridge between the John Simm and Michelle Gomez incarnations – something that will probably never be seen in the TV series proper. There's a slight swagger of confidence about this “second season” of adventures as Williams and Spurrier build an enthralling untold story from the Time War. This is a series that needs to be on the pull list of every comic-reading Whovian as it expands upon one of the most intriguing gaps in the Doctor Who mythology with an attention to detail and continuity that rivals the TV show itself. This isn't an optional extra - this is essential reading for Whovians!


Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 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 series when you pick up your copy!
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