Showing posts with label 4th Doctor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 4th Doctor. Show all posts

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

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

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

The Fourth Doctor comes face-to-face with Gods and Monsters as his first Titan Comics miniseries comes to a dramatic conclusion. There’s an increased sense of confidence to the series’ narrative with this final chapter as writers Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby wrap up the various plot threads from the past four issues in a very satisfying manner. Throughout the series, I’ve been impressed with the way that they’ve maintained Tom Baker’s very distinctive ‘voice’ in the Doctor’s dialogue, aided by Brian Williamson’s photo-realistic artwork. The story has also felt tonally accurate for that era in Doctor Who history, channelling the Gothic horror vibe that was prevalent throughout Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes’ time on the show. I also liked how the writers offered up an extra-terrestrial explanation for the Medusa and the Gods of Ancient Greece – a staple element of Doctor Who storytelling seen with televised Fourth Doctor stories, “Underworld” and “The Horns of Nimon”.


Brian Williamson contributes heavily to the Gothic atmosphere in place in this issue, capturing Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen’s likenesses with uncanny accuracy. While his art may lack fluidity and movement at times, it remains impressive throughout and suits the tone of the story without question. I particularly liked his redesign of the Medusa once it had absorbed Lady Carstairs’ essence and evolved into a more humanoid appearance, not unlike the Ancient Greece legends she inspired. Overall, this has been a fun adventure very much in the spirit of the Fourth Doctor’s era, and I loved the nod to Harry Sullivan in the denouement. Throughout this series, Rennie and Beeby have demonstrated a keen understanding of what makes the Fourth Doctor so unique and lovable and translated that onto the page. These classic Doctor miniseries have been an absolute joy to read and I would love to see Titan Comics commit to an ongoing series featuring the Fourth Doctor, especially since he is the most recognisable and arguably the most definitive interpretation of the character.


Score - 9.3 out of 10

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

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

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

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

This penultimate issue of the Fourth Doctor miniseries sees the Doctor travelling back to Ancient Greece to do battle with the Medusa with the hopes of rescuing his loyal companion Sarah-Jane Smith. Unbeknownst to the Doctor, however, Sarah-Jane has already been turned into a statue by the fearsome creature. Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby do a great job of demystifying the Medusa in that quintessential Doctor Who way, making her into an alien creature whom the Ancient Greeks then turned into legend. The whole aspect of turning its foes to stone is also given a Doctor Who-styled explanation that nicely ties into the continuity of the Weeping Angels. Interestingly, the Fourth Doctor speaks of the Weeping Angels as creatures of myth, implying that he has yet to meet them in his own chronology. Given that Big Finish are soon releasing an audio adventure where the Fifth Doctor meets the Weeping Angels, it could be that story will be the first meeting of the Doctor and the quantum-locked stone creatures.


Rennie and Beeby demonstrate their firm grasp on the Fourth Doctor’s manner of speech, and as I read every bit of dialogue, I could hear Tom Baker’s unique vocal delivery in my head. Assisting this pitch-perfect recreation of the Fourth Doctor’s voice is Brian Williamson’s amazing job at bringing the character onto the page with photo-realistic skill. Reading this issue feels like time-travel in itself, thanks to the amazing accuracy of recreating the tone of the era by both writers and artist. This adventure feels ripped straight out of the Gothic Horror era of the Fourth Doctor, and much like Titan Comics’ other Doctor Who comic series, it feels authentic and high-quality throughout. While the story has felt somewhat formulaic at times, Rennie and Beeby still manage to introduce a surprise or two into the narrative, and the scene where Professor Odysseus James meets his end, and in a rather gruesome fashion too, elicited wide-eyed shock. Add to that, the complete head-scratcher of a cliff-hanger at the end and you have a stone-cold stunner of a penultimate issue to this wonderful five-part miniseries!


Score - 9.1 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor # 4 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 4th Doctor # 3 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 4th Doctor # 3 (of 5)
"Gaze of the Medusa" - Part 3 (of 5)
Written by: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Art by: Brian Williamson
Colours by: Hi-Fi

Separated from the Doctor and trapped in an underground catacombs filled with eerie statues, Sarah-Jane Smith finds herself face-to-face with the Medusa as this Fourth Doctor mini-series continues. Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby continue to adopt a leisurely pace with their scripts to this storyline, not unlike the multi-episode serials seen in the Fourth Doctor’s era. Rather than rush the tale in three issues, the writers have taken time to develop the characters and situation and make use of Brian Williamson’s art in a full-page capacity to create an impact at key moments. This issue finally gives us a glimpse at the titular villain of the piece as the Medusa makes itself known to Sarah-Jane and Professor Odysseus – I'm guessing that their struggle with the creature will give life to the legends of Ancient Greece that we’re familiar with. I quite like the design of the monster, although it is featured sparingly in this issue, lurking within the shadows and striking out at the climax of the episode.

Brian Williamson’s photo-realistic artwork continues to impress as he accurately recreates the same Victorian Gothic Horror vibe often seen in the Fourth Doctor’s era, particularly during the Philip Hinchcliffe years. Fans of this period in Doctor Who’s history will find plenty to like here from the uncanny likenesses to Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen to the grotesque designs of the Scryclops and Medusa creatures that could easily have been ripped out of the late 1970s. While the slower pace to the story might be a bit of an adjustment when compared to the more frenetic action of Titan Comics’ other Doctor Who series, it does feel tonally accurate to the Fourth Doctor and his time on the show. I’d imagine that the upcoming Third Doctor comic series will be far more military-focused given the heavy use of UNIT during the Jon Pertwee years.


Overall, this was another solid installment to a mini-series absolutely dripping in atmosphere from every panel. I'm really enjoying the juxtaposition between Ancient Greek legend and the Victorian era, which results in a mish-mash of time periods that feels quintessentially Doctor Who in nature. While the slower pace might be more noticeable in the monthly release format, I'm sure this storyline will flow nicely in the inevitable trade paperback collection. Rennie and Beeby have demonstrated a keen ear for the Fourth Doctor’s voice through their script and their storyline really wouldn't have worked as well with any of the other incarnations of the Doctor. I do worry that the remainder of this storyline may be somewhat formulaic, but hopefully the creative team are able to pull out a few surprises in the remaining two issues of this series. 


Score - 8.5 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor # 3 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 4th Doctor # 2 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 4th Doctor # 2 (of 5)
"Gaze of the Medusa" - Part 2 (of 5)
Written by: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Art by: Brian Williamson
Colours by: Hi-Fi

Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby’s glorious juxtaposition of Ancient Greek mythology and Victorian London continues with this second chapter of the Fourth Doctor miniseries, as the Doctor enlists his new companions in a rescue mission to free Sarah-Jane Smith from the grasps of the Scryclops. Whereas last issue threw readers (and the Doctor) into the action without much explanation, this follow-up instalment provides exposition behind Lady Carstairs’ actions and fills in the back-story behind Odysseus and Athena James’ involvement. Rennie and Beeby do a grand job at capturing the Fourth Doctor’s distinctive voice, which along with Brian Williamson’s photo-realistic artwork, helps recreate that classic era of the series in comic book form. The story hits all the right notes and feels torn out of the Fourth Doctor’s “Gothic era” as it mashes impossible monsters with iconic time periods. You can almost visualise the Scryclops being brought to life by tall actors wearing rubbery costumes as their unblinking eyes stare at our heroes. You can’t get much more Doctor Who than that!

As seen from his work on other Doctor Who comics, Brian Williamson has an immense talent for capturing the likenesses of the actors and actresses from the show and here he does a fantastic job at trapping Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen onto the printed page. It’s almost uncanny how realistic his characters look, and Williamson’s dark style and thick inks suit this horror-infused adventure well. My major nitpick from the first issue was issues with scale and perspective, which is largely addressed in this issue aside from a few panels where the Scryclops seemed out of proportion to their surroundings. Despite these issues, Williamson provides an impressive level of detail and contributes hugely to establishing the right tone to this adventure alongside Rennie and Beeby’s script.


While there is a slightly slower pace here compared to that of the other Doctor Who series under the Titan Comics banner, this chapter of “Gaze of the Medusa” feels in-keeping with the classic era of the series. The multi-episode serials of the original Doctor Who run often used a slower pace than the relaunched version currently does, and this storyline definitely feels reminiscent of that, almost mimicking the serialised format with its cliff-hanger endings. It’s quite nostalgic to see Rennie and Beeby channel that storytelling method for the comics – as I've said before, it definitely helps present this miniseries as a missing adventure, lost to the BBC Archives. On that note, it would be great if Titan Comics worked on those infamous ‘missing stories’ where no surviving footage is available. I’d quite like to see the likes of “The Daleks’ Master Plan”, “The Power of the Daleks” and “The Macra Terror” adapted for the comic book format, in lieu of the actual televised episodes. The scripts all exist, so it would merely be a matter of illustrating the adventures, and possibly editing some of the dialogue to fit in better with the comic book format.

With the action poised to relocate to Ancient Greece, Rennie and Beeby have the opportunity to take “Gaze of the Medusa” in a whole new direction for the remaining three issues, and with the Chekhov’s Gun of Sarah-Jane’s petrified stone statue waiting in the wings, I look forward to seeing this storyline come together. Both writers have proven themselves adept at telling Doctor Who stories which feel authentic to their specific era, not just here but in their previous work for Big Finish, and I am thoroughly enjoying their take on the Fourth Doctor in comic book form. With Williamson pumping a tangible creepiness into his panels, this series is pitch-perfect and true to its source material, even down to Tom Baker’s manic grin and “man out of time” attitude to his surroundings. This series has all the ingredients of a quintessential Doctor Who adventure, and two issues in, is shaping up to tell a fantastic story for fans of that classic era.


Score - 9.0 out of 10

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

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

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

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

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

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


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

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


Score - 8.4 out of 10

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