Showing posts with label 9th Doctor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 9th Doctor. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 9

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 9
"Slaver's Song" - Part 1 (of 2)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Adriana Melo
Colours by: Marco Lesko

This issue of the Ninth Doctor comic series is different from previous instalments, in that series artist Adriana Melo helped plot the story alongside regular writer Cavan Scott. The story, which sees the Doctor travel back in time to 17th century Brazil to encounter slave traders and mystical water monsters. As a Brazilian herself, Melo adds a level of authenticity to the tale in the same way that Scott did when he featured his hometown of Bristol heavily in his UNIT arc. It’s great to see the Doctor thrust into different cultures and time zones, especially ones like this which are seldom explored in contemporary fiction. Against this Brazilian backdrop, Scott finally delves into the mysteries surrounding Jack Harkness’ missing memories, picking up a plot thread undeveloped from the TV series itself. The Brazilian jungle is an environment rich for storytelling, and both Scott and Melo capitalise on its potential with this fun adventure.

I’m a huge fan of Adriana Melo’s art on this title, and the energetic tone she brings to the series. It’s clear that she enjoys being part of the Doctor Who universe – an enthusiasm that is also seen in Tara Mishra’s own joy at being part of the TARDIS team. I love the way Melo captures the huge grin on Tara’s face as she walks within the jungle, and she also nails Rose’s jealousy in a way that very reminiscent of her behaviour in “School Reunion” when she discovers that the Doctor used to travel with Sarah-Jane Smith. I absolutely adore her interpretation of the main cast of characters, each of which emphasise the core qualities of the actors who portray them. Her take on Billie Piper is my favourite, bringing much of the character’s personality out onto the page. I also love the design of her monsters, especially the mermaid-inspired beauty who comes to the Doctor’s aid in the final pages.

Overall, this was a strong opening instalment to a fantastic storyline – one that could never be seen on television due to budget constraints. The infectious joy of both creators is more than evident and sure to raise a smile on the reader’s face. This series is fast becoming my favourite Doctor Who series from Titan Comics, taking the character off on unexpected journeys through time and space, and with a new companion in tow, things are looking all the more exciting and unpredictable.

Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor # 9 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 8

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 8
"Official Secrets" - Part 3 (of 3)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Adriana Melo
Colours by: Marco Lesko

This issue sees the conclusion to the Ninth Doctor’s sojourn to the seventies (or eighties) for a bit of old-school UNIT action, and Cavan Scott does a brilliant job at tying up the loose ends over the past few storylines whilst setting up potential avenues to explore regarding Jack Harkness’ missing memories. Scott’s script is a delicious blend of classic and modern Doctor Who, meshing the gung-ho espionage elements of the Third Doctor’s era with the more modern sensibilities of the 2005 relaunch. Shadowy organisations such as Albion were commonplace during this period of the show, and I was half-expecting The Master to be involved somewhere down the line underneath a rubber mask. As someone who has a great deal of fondness for the UNIT-era of the series, it’s great to see Scott revisit iconic characters such as the Brigadier, Benton and Harry Sullivan and maintain a strong degree of authenticity in their voices. The scene where the Brigadier notes how the Doctor has changed and become more militaristic in his behaviour is a nicely realised character moment, referencing the Time War and how much it has affected the Doctor. While she is only briefly featured in this storyline, UNIT nurse Tara Mishra seems like a fascinating character and I’m very happy to see that she’ll be joining the TARDIS team in the future – I love the idea of characters from different time-zones travelling as companions and can’t wait to see the interactions between her, Rose and Jack.

Adriana Melo returns to art duties for this issue, and reminds me why I have fallen in love with her artwork. She has a great artistic style, which is made even better by Marco Lesko’s superb colouring. In an issue that features plenty of real-life likenesses from actors and actresses from the TV show, Melo manages to convey the essence of each character perfectly without needing to produce carbon-copies of the actor on the page. I also love the way she includes Manga-esque emotions in some of her panels, removing some of the finer details to showcase a more simplistic grin. It’s a wonderfully effective technique and one that further endears her work to me. Clearly, Melo is having a great time drawing these issues as there’s a lovely sense of joy to her artwork that radiates off the page. That sense of fun is also present in Scott’s writing as he continues to put the Ninth Doctor in strange and unusual circumstances, making the most of the unlimited possibilities that comes from writing for comics. There’s a chaotic energy to the Ninth Doctor series that is so infectious and really sets this series apart from the others produced by Titan Comics. Readers who may be put off by tales from past Doctors should really give the series a chance as Cavan Scott is creating some of the most imaginative and exciting Doctor Who stories in recent memory. Overall, this issue was a great conclusion to a solid story-arc, filled with plenty of promise that more fantastic adventures will follow soon.

Score - 9.7 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor # 8 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 7

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 7
"Official Secrets" - Part 2 (of 3)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Cris Bolson
Colours by: Marco Lesko

With giant Kaiju rampaging around Bristol and a trigger-happy Brigadier racing around with a psionic laser cannon, Cavan Scott manages to tap into that UNIT era with ease – although unlike Paul Cornell’s fabulous Third Doctor limited series, Scott has the opportunity to subvert those classic stories by introducing a modern element into the mix. It was a great tragedy that Nicholas Courtney died before his character could be featured on Doctor Who and this storyline attempts to right that wrong by having the Ninth Doctor encounter the Brig back in his heyday. As fun as it was to see Harry Sullivan interacting with the Ninth Doctor, Scott raises it another level with the inclusion of the Brigadier. Interestingly, there’s still a bit of friction between the Doctor and the Brigadier about the use of military action against alien threats, although it would be interesting to see if the Doctor’s experiences during the Time War would make him understand the Brigadier’s perspective some more. The actual plot of giant Kaiju appearing out of nowhere feels very reminiscent of the classic “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” serial, even down to their sudden disappearing act. Scott drip-feeds the reader with clues as to the true origin of these monsters, hinting that the captive Agent Yaxley is responsible although there is also the suggestion that Yaxley’s son may also be influencing things – which itself is reminiscent of the aborted Walt plot thread from LOST.

Cris Bolson once again takes over from Adriana Melo, and whilst the two artists share somewhat different art styles, he manages to maintain a level of consistency with Melo’s work in the first installment whilst remaining true to his own style. The pair worked well together in the previous storyline “The Transformed”, so it isn’t overly jarring to see them collaborate here. Bolson does a great job at creating tension in his artwork, especially with that awe-inspiring double page spread of a Kaiju coming out of the water to attack the Clifton Suspension Bridge. I was seriously impressed by the level of detail and the scale of the image – it was truly a thing of beauty and Bolson clearly put a lot of effort into that blockbuster moment. Cavan Scott has done a great job at striking the perfect balance between the old and the new, creating a distinctive story that is rich with nostalgia on two levels - nostalgia for the classic UNIT team and nostalgia for the Ninth Doctor, Jack and Rose. Not afraid to tear up the rulebook in order to tell a good story, Scott has had the Ninth Doctor interacting with characters he would never have been able to meet in the television show and has firmly entrenched that Season One cast of characters into the deeper mythology of the show. Back when Doctor Who relaunched itself in 2005, it was specifically designed to be as accessible as possible but now it has become increasingly trendy to revisit the past and make use of continuity – something that Scott does impeccably with this issue. Quite simply, you cannot call yourself a Doctor Who fan if you are not reading this series!

Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor # 7 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.

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!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 6

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 6
"Official Secrets" - Part 1 (of 3)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Adriana Melo
Colours by: Marco Lesko

Rather appropriately considering the recent launch of the Third Doctor miniseries, this latest issue of the Ninth Doctor ongoing sees The Doctor, Rose and Jack taking a trip back to the 1970s (or maybe 80s?) to visit the classic UNIT formation. As with his initial story-arc, Cavan Scott creates a wonderfully smooth transition between storylines as the TARDIS team travel back in time to find Dean, inadvertently becoming tangled up in another monstrous adventure. I’m enjoying this narrative technique as the stories bleed together, creating a greater sense of cohesion between events as plot threads overlap and dangle willy-nilly. It’s great to see a modern incarnation of the Doctor travelling back to the UNIT heyday and judging from the set-up, this is a post-Fourth Doctor version of UNIT. Sadly, the Brigadier doesn’t make an appearance (possibly due to a rights issue) but that gives us the opportunity to focus on Harry Sullivan instead who has taken charge in his absence. Scott manages to achieve that distinctive UNIT tone, but refreshes and updates it in places with the inclusion of new UNIT agent Tara Mishra, who may just end up being a new companion. Tonally, the story reminds me of the Third Doctor serial, “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” as giant kaiju creatures erupt from the ground and UNIT attempt to keep it a secret from the general populous.

Adriana Melo produces some of the best work of her Doctor Who comics career in this issue, ably capturing the mood of the era with her depiction of UNIT HQ and the various soldiers. Her double-page spreads revealing the giant monsters are impressive too, crafting awe-inspiring visuals with a hint of epic cinematography. The final page cliff-hanger with the giant crab reaching for its victims is absolutely brilliant, evoking memories of the Macra, and providing a genuinely unsettling image that would even haunt readers hiding behind the sofa. Marco Lesko elevates Melo’s wonderful artwork with his brilliant colours, providing a professional finish to the page and adding extra emotion to each panel. With this story, Cavan Scott once again demonstrates his wide knowledge and love for Doctor Who, by transplanting his characters into familiar eras of the series’ long history to create unexpected drama. Once you finish an issue, you find yourself bemoaning the fact that Christopher Eccleston only ever did thirteen episodes of Doctor Who but grateful that Scott is on hand to provide “missing adventures” that slot nicely into the Season One timeline. My one criticism is the lack of focus on Jack Harkness’ missing memories – a complaint the character had himself in the previous issue – hopefully, Scott will pick up on this plot thread in the near future! Overall, this is some absolutely spectacular storytelling and a burst of nostalgia on multiple levels!

Score - 9.7 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor # 6 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website.

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, 7 September 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 5

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 5
"The Transformed" - Part 2 (of 2)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Adriana Melo
Colours by: Matheus Lopes

Following on from the previous issue, this concluding episode of “The Transformed” sees the Ninth Doctor working together with a version of Mickey Smith from his future to prevent humans from turning into monstrous gargoyles. Cavan Scott develops his central plot nicely, although the introduction of super-powered humans does send the series veering into superheroes territory, which doesn't quite fit well with Doctor Who. Once again, the interactions between Mickey and the Ninth Doctor take a backseat to the central plot-line, but the moments where the two heroes work together are nicely written and demonstrate the growth made to the Mickey Smith character, as well as the differences between the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. As with the conclusion to his initial story-arc, “Doctormania”, Scott provides a nice cliff-hanger to tie the adventures together into an ongoing narrative. After mashing the Ninth Doctor with his future by bringing Martha Jones and an older Mickey Smith into the mix, this issue ends with the promise of some old-school UNIT action as Harry Sullivan and Sergeant Benton appear at the conclusion. I'm really enjoying Scott's approach to his Doctor Who stories, blending aspects from the character's fifty-three year history to create a love letter to the character and all of his guises.

Series artist Adriana Melo returns to art duties following a guest spot from Cris Bolson last issue, and she quickly makes use of the existing character designs whilst introducing her own distinctive style to the storyline. I love Melo's interpretation of the TARDIS team, and the way she brings Rose, Jack and the Doctor to life on the page – while not an exact reproduction of the actor's likenesses, Melo captures the very essence of the characters. Her art style has a wonderful grittiness about it that suits the series' darker tones and I'm really looking forward to seeing her tackle a 1970s UNIT era story-arc. While the superhero elements of this story-arc lacked that Doctor Who flavour, Scott managed to weave a fun storyline that offered a well-observed character examination of Mickey Smith, and how the Doctor's influence shaped his life for him. There's a child-like exuberance to Cavan Scott's writing that just reflects off the page, and makes reading the Ninth Doctor series an absolute joy. Not content to tell stories tied to the Ninth Doctor's era, Scott has demonstrated a williness to bend the rules of time and space and bring key elements from the Doctor's past and future into play, resulting in some of the most unpredictable and exciting Doctor Who stories in recent years. If you're a Doctor Who fan and not reading this series, I recommend you pick up a copy of the next issue as soon as it's on sale - it's like taking a dip in a bath of Doctor Who continuity...

Score - 9.5 out of 10

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

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 9th Doctor # 4

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 4
"The Transformed" - Part 1 (of 2)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Cris Bolson
Colours by: Marco Lesko

With a dash of “timey-wimey” goodness, Cavan Scott has created a fantastic scenario for fans of the Ninth Doctor era by bringing Mickey Smith back into the Doctor's life – unfortunately for the Ninth Doctor, this is a Mickey Smith ten years older than the one he is familiar with. The antagonistic relationship between the Doctor and Mickey was a strong element of the Ninth Doctor's era, and the way the two built up a level of respect for each other was a great piece of character development throughout the Tenth Doctor's era, so it's great to see Scott play with the Doctor / Mickey relationship, and in typical Doctor Who style, perhaps this encounter is what leads the Doctor to begin to respect Mickey more in the first place. It's also great to see some more of Mickey's post-Doctor Who life after the brief glimpse seen in “The End of Time” as he and his wife Martha Jones remain protectors of the Earth. Despite the historical setting of this ongoing series, Scott has found some wonderfully inventive ways to keep things fresh and exciting – referencing the Time War, Jack's missing memories, and now his very own “Time Crash” between Nine and Mickey.

Keeping on the right side of a universe-destroying paradox (or a continuity headache), Scott manages to keep the unlikely team-up of Nine and Old-Mickey engaging throughout the episode. The scenes between the two are what drives the issue, and at times they even overshadow the main plot of superheroes and gargoyles fighting about the San Francisco skies.  Even Martha Jones makes a cameo appearance in the episode, although carefully concealed so the Doctor won't meet his future companion ahead of time. It's fun to see Scott dance through the constraints of continuity to deliver such a great story that works on multiple levels. The story could have been told with the Tenth Doctor, but it would have lost that whole clash of the egos element. That said, it would have been fun to see a later Doctor meet up with Mickey and Martha, given how “The End of Time” put an end to the Russell T Davies era of companions. Maybe the characters will reappear in some of the other Titan Comics series down the line – I've always thought they'd be a great fit for Torchwood, especially after Martha Jones guest-starred in the second series.

Guest-artist Cris Bolson is on art duties for this issue, alongside colours by Marco Lesko, and the pair do a fantastic job at bringing modern-day San Francisco to life onto the page with the Golden Gate Bridge, trams and steep hills all featuring. Bolson excels at capturing the actor's likenesses, especially Noel Clarke's turn as Mickey Smith – showcasing the character's evolution from Rose's goofy ex-boyfriend to a genuine protector of Earth. His Doctor, Jack and Rose are spot-on as well, ensuring that the series maintains its strong connection to its source material. The Gargoyles are well-designed by Bolson too, and its cute to see Mickey initially mistake them from the Krillitane, referencing his encounter with them in “School Reunion”. The issue flows along nicely with some nifty aeronautical battles set against a mysterious Northern Lights sky. It's a solid artistic job, and a worthy addition to the ever-increasing roster of Doctor Who artists.

After the cliff-hanger ending of Issue 3, I had high hopes for this encounter between the Ninth Doctor and an older Mickey Smith and Cavan Scott delivered on every aspect. The script bounces along with that energetic enthusiasm that has become a trademark for Scott's writing and his love for the source material shines through on every page. Much like with the Eleventh Doctor series' creative team, Scott is having great fun at playing with the constraints of continuity and crossing narrative streams that could never be done in the TV show. In some ways, its bittersweet as the television show itself seems to have lost the unpredictability that comes out in Scott's work. I'd love to see Peter Capaldi's Doctor cross over with some of his past companions, perhaps in a Back to the Future manner, avoiding making contact and causing a paradox. With no Doctor Who expected on our television screens until Christmas, Titan Comics' current crop of series' are the perfect antidote to a Time Lord-free diet! Fresh, inventive and unpredictable, the Ninth Doctor series is an absolute must-read for old and new fans alike!

Score - 10 out of 10

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

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, 29 June 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 3

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

Cavan Scott and Adriana Melo bring the opening story-arc to the Ninth Doctor comic series to a dramatic close, as the Season One TARDIS team of Jack, Rose and the Doctor attempt to prevent a Raxacoricofallapatorian Civil War from taking place. Taking cues from The Hunger Games, Scott has Rose and her Slitheen captor, Slist, on the run from a group of dangerous hunters in the jungles of the planet Clix, part of the Raxacoricofallapatorian Empire. Rose is definitely the focus of this concluding installment of the storyline as Scott goes to great lengths to showcase her idealistic nature and innocence – key traits of hers seen during those Season One years. I really enjoyed her interactions with Slist as she attempted to help him, despite his mistreatment of her earlier in the tale. I was really impressed with how Scott took Billie Piper’s performance in the show and recreated it onto the page, ensuring Rose’s ‘voice’ remained strong throughout. While the Doctor and Jack were vital elements, this was definitely Rose’s issue!

Adriana Melo continues to sprinkle her artistic magic over this issue as her grittier style lends itself well to this storyline, especially when it comes to displaying the gruesome consequences of the acidic rain on the skin of the Slitheen. As I’ve said in previous reviews, Melo and Scott have taken the goofy, fart monsters and made them into truly terrifying threats. Melo establishes a ferocity to the creatures that was lacking in their televised appearances, and I absolutely adore her designs of the other Raxacoricofallapatorians, such as the Jinglatheen. Aside from making the Slitheen seem cool, Melo does a tremendous job at capturing the likenesses of John Barrowman, Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, but without being a slave to realism. Her art is dynamic and flows with ease on the page, ensuring that the story moves with a rapid pace.

With this issue, Cavan Scott has demonstrated his innate ability to write thrilling Doctor Who stories that dovetail nicely into the established continuity of the television show, enhancing the experience and offering essential information. I’ll be honest, I could have quite happily gone the rest of my life without seeing another Slitheen, but this storyline actually has me enthused about the creatures and interested in future instalments featuring the complex Raxacoricofallapatorian hierarchy. Keen to play with his reading audience, Scott introduces a humdinger of a cliff-hanger in the final page, which is sure to get heads scratching. I love the fact that he is clearly having a great time playing about in the Ninth Doctor era, expanding that initially short period of the Doctor’s life with some excellent adventures, making use of events from later episodes to inform his plots.

Doctormania” has been a promising start for the Ninth Doctor series, fully justifying the decision to move from a mini-series format to a fully-fledged ongoing title. Scott and Melo prove themselves to be highly capable team, and on the basis of this inaugural adventure, I hope to see plenty more stories from the pair exploring the hidden secrets of the Ninth Doctor’s era. Scott’s love for the character and this particular era is evident from his work on the page, and that surprise cliff-hanger demonstrates his willingness to shake up continuity and offer readers some genuinely exciting stories that take the Ninth Doctor into brand-new territories. Even though the Ninth Doctor’s time on the show was over ten years ago, Scott and Melo have done a fantastic job in making the character still relevant and exciting all these years later. As with all of Titan Comics’ Doctor Who output, this is essential reading for fans of the show – old or new.

Score - 10 out of 10

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

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 2

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

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

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

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

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

Score - 9.8 out of 10

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

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 1

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 1
"Doctormania" - Part 1 (of 3)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Adriana Melo
Colours by: Matheus Lopes

After the phenomenal success of the Ninth Doctor mini-series, Titan Comics has wisely commissioned an ongoing series featuring Christopher Eccleston's incarnation of the Time Lord, meaning that all four Doctors since the 2005 relaunch have now got their own comic book series. Cavan Scott returns to the scripting duties, bringing with him Brazilian comic book artist, Adriana Melo, famous for her work on Star Wars: Empire, Witchblade and Ms. Marvel. Taking place shortly after “Weapons of Past Destruction”, Scott continues to make use of the Season One TARDIS team of Rose, Jack and the Doctor – providing fans of that era with more un-televised adventures to slot in-between “The Doctor Dances” and “Boom Town”. Free from the budget restraints that forced most of Season One to take place on Earth, Scott is able to think big and create sprawling space dramas that take the Doctor and his crew to far-flung planets and alien civilisations, adding a whole new dimension to the Ninth Doctor's era that was missing from the show. Throwing the reader and the TARDIS team into the thick of things, he has the Doctor come face to face with...The Doctor?!

The Doctor meeting his doppelgänger is a reoccurring plot device which has been used for almost all the Doctors, starting from the First Doctor adventure “The Massacre” and including such adventures as, “The Enemy of the World”, “Meglos”, “Journey's End”, “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Wedding of River Song”, so it is nice to see it used for the Ninth Doctor. It also puts the Doctor in the uncomfortable situation of being a celebrity, as the faux-Doctor achieves a cult-like status on Gharusa Prime with a television series entitled “Doctor Who?”. In a nice slice of meta-commentary, Cavan Scott affectionately pokes fun at the Doctor Who fan-base through the obsessive alien fan. Before the Doctor can get any real answers, the group are attacked by the Chumblies, or rather what someone thinks the Chumblies looks like, as the Doctor is immediately suspicious. I must admit that, real or not, I quite liked seeing the Chumblies returning to Doctor Who mythology, following their one and only appearance in the First Doctor serial, “Galaxy 4” - Cavan Scott is clearly a man who knows his Doctor Who history.

From the very first panel, Adriana Melo makes this comic her own, capturing the likenesses of the three main actors, but without being a slave to detail. As such, there's a wonderful fluidity to her work as she creates dynamic panels that showcase the action from the start. I really like her take on the Ninth Doctor, which uses Christopher Eccleston's likeness as a base to build upon the character. She also does a fantastic job with Rose and Jack, channelling the essence of the characters onto the page with remarkable ease. Also impressive are her alien designs, such as the cute purple-faced 'Doctorian' who greets the TARDIS team upon their arrival. While her style occasionally fluctuates between panels, I really am enjoying this new addition to Titan Comics' roster of Doctor Who artists and immediately think she'll be a perfect fit for the Ninth Doctor series. I mean, anyone who can make the Slitheen actually look scary must be something special!

Overall, this was a fantastic re-debut for the Ninth Doctor. With an ongoing series to work with, Cavan Scott seems to be planning for the long haul, briefly touching upon the sub-plot of Captain Jack's missing memories, for what I'm assuming will be the main thrust of this series. As with his work on the miniseries, Scott has the Ninth Doctor's voice down perfectly and genuinely seems to love Doctor Who history, both old and new, as he blends monsters such as the Slitheen and the Chumblies together in a wonderful stew of narrative goodness. In the space of a single issue, Adriana Melo has quickly proven herself to be a worthy addition to the Doctor Who family, capturing the mood of the Ninth Doctor's era and its characters but also adding in her own visual flourishes. Once again, Titan Comics has struck gold with yet another excellent ongoing series and I'm genuinely excited to see what this creative team has up their sleeve, as I'm sure it will be absolutely “fan-tas-tic”!

Score - 10 out of 10

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

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 5 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 5 (of 5)
"Weapons of Past Destruction" - Part 5 (of 5)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Blair Shedd & Rachael Stott
Colours by: Anang Setyawan

After suffering some delays in the midst of the series, this month brings the final issue of the Ninth Doctor mini-series, completing the “Weapons of Past Destruction” story arc and concluding the war between the Unon and the Lect. While previous installments have focuses on Rose and the Doctor, this episode allows Jack Harkness a chance to shine as he convinces Arnora to stop the Unon from replacing the Time Lords as the arbiters of all time and space. Cavan Scott makes full use of the Time War to frame his storyline, presenting the Unon as a blend of the Time Lords and the Daleks, using excessive and destructive means to maintain what they consider to be the status quo. The Ninth Doctor is the ideal regeneration to explore this storyline with since the Time War is still fresh and raw in his memory, and his actions here nicely foreshadow his choices in the Season One finale, “The Parting of the Ways”.

Throughout the series, Cavan Scott has kept readers on their toes regarding the motivations of the Lect and Unon, and which of the two warring factions was the villain. Though misguided in their aims, the Unon were technically the villains of the piece using Dalek technology to enforce Time Lord rules. I must admit that the ending didn’t quite ring true for me, with the Unon escaping any real justice for their actions and even given a second chance. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but the Lect didn’t get any real redemption or ‘happy ending’ making it seem slightly unjust, considering they were the more innocent party – although I guess that’s the way life is sometimes. In fact, Doctor Who itself has done something similar in the episode “Voyage of the Damned” when all of the sympathetic characters die and the sole survivor is the sarcastic, mean and greedy Rickston Slade.

Once again, Blair Shedd shared art duties with Rachael Stott and this time around, I found it easier to tell which pages had been done by which artist, mainly due to the slight difference in colour filter on Rachael’s pages. Despite that, Stott did a fantastic job of replicating Shedd’s art style, ensuring that there was minimal disruption between the two. One area in which both artists excelled was the way that captured the likenesses of Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper and John Barrowman – it’s uncanny how well they represented the subtle facial expressions of the trio. You’d almost think that had the three actors there posing for them in every position required!

Overall, this was a great Ninth Doctor story – although it did suffer somewhat from the inconsistent release schedule. I think it would flow a lot better in a trade paperback format, especially the final three issues which felt more inter-linked. As I type this review, Titan Comics has just announced that Cavan Scott will be working on an ongoing Ninth Doctor series to join with the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth series. Based on this first story-arc, I am incredibly excited to see Scott return to tell more stories of the Doctor, Jack and Rose. He has a great handle on all three characters and it’ll be great to see more varied stories from this TARDIS team, expanding beyond the brief adventures glimpsed on-screen.

Score - 9.2 out of 10

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

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 4 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 4 (of 5)
"Weapons of Past Destruction" - Part 4 (of 5)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Blair Shedd
Colours by: Anang Setyawan

After a slight delay, the penultimate issue of Titan Comics’ Ninth Doctor miniseries is out and while some of the momentum was lost due to the gaps between issues, Cavan Scott and Blair Shedd deliver another thrilling chapter to this saga. Scott resolves the cliff-hanger from last issue by having the Lect and Unon responsible for saving both Jack and Rose from the supernova that engulfs Fluren’s World – splitting the two companions up on opposite sides of this temporal war. Inside the TARDIS, Captain Jack is reunited with the Doctor and Scott spends time developing the relationship between the two. In keeping with Season One’s characterisation, there is friction between the two as they clash over their different ideologies.

Scott’s script provides a bit more background behind the conflict between the Lect and Unon – showcasing the aftermath of the Time War and how other races sought to fill the gap left behind by the disappearance of the Daleks and the Time Lords. In a nifty flashback sequence, we get a glimpse of some old-school Mondasian Cybermen (a favourite of mine!) and the Sontarans – implying that the two factions were among the many feuding over control of the galaxy. I quite like the idea that the Unon are fixing the rips in time-space, which recalls the alternate timeline seen in “The Wedding of River Song” where time folds in on itself and the past, present and future converge on one date. However, given the nature of Rose’s appearance at the end, I have to wonder whether the Unon are as benevolent as they appear…

Blair Shedd continues to do a cracking job on this series, creating some simply amazing images on every page. I really like the way that he switches viewpoints, particularly during the scene when Rose is held prisoner by the Lect. Rather than featuring fixed “camera shots” – each panel shows the action from a different perspective, adding a sense of motion to the conversation. The brief “behind the scenes” section at the end of the issue also showcases the exhaustive level of work that Shedd puts into every page and how he is able to create such a unique look to his art.

While this penultimate installment didn’t quite reach the same heights as its preceding issues, the curious cliff-hanger of Rose pointing a massive laser-gun at the Doctor certainly suggests a strong conclusion is waiting in the wings. Cavan Scott and Blair Shedd have really worked well together on this storyline, crafting an adventure that provides readers with a more immediate glimpse at the aftermath of the Time War, compared to the scenes we've seen with the War Doctor in the midst of the conflict. It’s been a great burst of modern Doctor Who nostalgia, especially during the tenth anniversary of the show’s resurrection. Fans of the Ninth Doctor should definitely pick this up in its collected edition next year.

Score - 9.0 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor # 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!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 3 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 3 (of 5)
"Weapons of Past Destruction" - Part 3 (of 5)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Blair Shedd & Rachael Stott
Colours by: Anang Setyawan

There's a real sense of chaotic action to this third issue of the Ninth Doctor mini-series, which follows on from the Doctor's rash proclamation last issue to sell the secrets of his mind to the highest bidder, particularly the elements relating to his survival in the Time War. Naturally, this raised the interest of the warring alien races, The Unon and The Lect, who have both descended upon the illegal weapons market at Fluren to collect this valuable bounty leading to a battle royale between the two armies with the Doctor, Rose and Jack caught in the middle.

Cavan Scott's writing continues to impress and delight, with his knowledge and love for Doctor Who lore shining through every panel. There are plenty of subtle references to the series' continuity (both new and old) with the Ninth Doctor's name-dropping of fellow time-lords, The Rani and The Corsair. Scott's enthusiasm and devotion to the source material is also clearly evident from the way he perfectly captures Christopher Eccleston's portrayal of the Ninth Doctor in his dialogue. He manages to nail the wide spectrum of emotions seen from this particular incarnation of the Doctor from his broad comedy and goofy grin, to his more brooding nature, as he remains racked with survivor's guilt following the Time War.

Scott wisely places the Time War at the heart of this mini-series, given that he has the unique opportunity to revisit the Ninth Doctor with the recent information about the Time War (and the War Doctor) gleaned from “The Day of the Doctor”. With Eccleston's reluctance to reprise the role of the Ninth Doctor, this gives us the opportunity to explore the character's emotions in ways that the show never can. I also like how the raw wounds of the Time War are still fresh for the Doctor here, as they were in episodes such as “Dalek” - he acts rashly and without consequence here, striding into danger and nearly getting obliterated, all because he feels that the Unon are profiting from the Time Lord's destruction.

Assisting Cavan Scott's fantastic script is Blair Shedd's equally amazing artwork, which has a strong photo-realistic style to it. His interpretation of both Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper are spot-on, which greatly adds to that “lost episode” feel. Shedd's panels help convey the frantic nature of the situation on Fluren as the illegal traders attempt to flee the battlefield as the Lect and Unon fight it out. There's some impressive spreads here too, such as the full page panel of a threatening Lect being split in two by the Unon, or the Doctor's apparent disintegration. I also enjoyed the sequence, drawn by Rachael Stott, where Jack attempted to materialise within the TARDIS, with the panel layout feeling very reminiscent of Jim Steranko's psychedelic covers for Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD back in the late 60s.

Once again, this was another amazingly strong episode in the Ninth Doctor mini-series with Cavan Scott's script and Blair Shedd's artwork coming together in perfect harmony to create an experience so close to that of the TV show, you'd think it was a direct adaptation of an episode you'd missed. Despite the fact that we know all three characters will make it through this adventure unscathed, Cavan Scott manages to weave another thrilling cliff-hanger in the style of “old-school” Doctor Who that has you wondering how they will get out of this one! With the increased focus on the Time War, an area of the show's mythology that really intrigues me, I look forward to seeing how the rest of this series pans out. Fans of the Ninth Doctor's era should really be reading this series, as it feels so authentic, you'd almost think Cavan Scott was a pen-name for Russell T Davies.

Score - 10 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor # 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 series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 2 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor # 2 (of 5)
"Weapons of Past Destruction" - Part 2 (of 5)
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Blair Shedd

This second issue of the Ninth Doctor miniseries from Cavan Scott and Blair Shedd picks up from the wonderful cliff-hanger of Rose being cast adrift in the time vortex, showcasing the Doctor’s dismay at losing Rose and possibly foreshadowing his actions in "Bad Wolf" and “The Parting of the Ways”. Rather wisely, Scott doesn’t focus too heavily on this particular plot point and has Jack and the Doctor locate her fairly quickly, moving the plot along smoothly to the Fluren Temporal Bazaar.

This issue feels really well paced, with most of the action taking place in the alien marketplace, wonderfully realised by Blair Shedd’s amazing artwork. Star Wars fans may find the desert planet somewhat reminiscent of Tatooine, with the marketplace itself filled with a number of vendors that wouldn’t look out of place in the Mos Eisley Cantina. I particularly liked the alien octopus, Glom, who’d “rescued” Rose and quickly put her to work on his market stall of time lord trinkets. Within a few pages, Scott and Shedd created a great supporting character and I hope he appears again in later issues.

With Rose out of the picture for the opening half of this issue, Cavan Scott gets to spend more time looking at the Doctor and Jack’s relationship, particularly in these early stages where the Doctor disapproves of Jack’s more cavalier attitude to time travelling. Scott’s script is spot-on and captures the very essence of these two characters from that particular point of time. Coupled with Blair Shedd’s amazingly accurate representations of Jack, Rose and the Doctor – it truly feels like a lost episode from Season One.

In fact, Cavan Scott’s encyclopaedic knowledge and love for Doctor Who lore, both past and present, shines through in this issue with numerous nods to the continuities of other adventures. Keen-eyed readers will notice a cameo appearance from the Jarrodic and Amstron races that featured in Issues 7 and 8 of the Eleventh Doctor comic series. There's even a Slitheen and Hoix in the background for fans of those lesser-featured Doctor Who villains. There’s even a “Bad Wolf” reference, further emphasising that “lost episode” feel to the mini-series.

To borrow from the Ninth Doctor’s lexicon, this was another “fantastic” issue of the series, which is shaping up to be a magnificent storyline. At this early stage, the plot is still shrouded in mystery but it appears that Cavan Scott will be introducing elements of the Time War into the storyline, which was only obliquely referenced in that initial season so it will be interesting to see how he delves into the Ninth Doctor’s experiences of the war, and his time as the War Doctor. Judging from his behaviour at the end of this issue, he is still rough around the edges and quick to act rashly whenever the Time Lords or Gallifrey are mentioned. With Cavan Scott’s excellent script and Blair Shedd’s gorgeous artwork, I am confident that the Ninth Doctor is in safe hands.

Score - 9.8 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor # 2 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Interview - Cavan Scott [Writer / Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor]

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to interview Cavan Scott, the writer of the recent Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor miniseries for Titan Comics, which I reviewed here. He is also responsible for the Doctor Who: Who-ology, the official miscellany for the TV show. With this year being the tenth anniversary of the series' relaunch in 2005, it feels like the perfect time to look back over Christopher Eccleston's era on the show and Cavan's mini-series is the perfect tribute to the tone of that first season.

PCB Blog: Straight off of the bat, I have to ask the BIG question: Which Doctor is your favourite? And, why?

Cavan: Such a difficult question. The Fourth Doctor is my Doctor, I guess, and he was the Doctor I watched first.

PCB Blog: On the same line of questioning, which of the Doctor's many enemies are your favourite? Feel free to go as obscure as you like!

Cavan: How long have I got? Daleks, obviously, but the Zygon's come a close second. From the 21st Century, the Weeping Angels give me chills, as does the Empty Child. So creepy! I'm a big fan of the Silurians too, both old and modern.

Oh, and the Master. Definitely, the Master. I was a child of the late 70's and 80's, so it was always Anthony Ainley for me, although you can't beat Roger Delgado, of course.

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

Cavan: My favourite story is Terror of the Zygons, which you might have guessed from my answer above. Brilliant monster, creepy locale and my favourite TARDIS team.

PCB Blog: What is it about writing for Doctor Who that appeals to you? 

Cavan: The chance to add something to a world that I love so much. I still have to pinch myself. It's such a dream come true.

PCB Blog: You've written for the Ninth Doctor before in the audiobook, Night of the Whisper, available from Big Finish - is there an element from Christopher Eccleston's portrayal of the Doctor that appeals to you as a writer? Are there any challenges in writing his "voice" on the page?

Cavan: I think he's one of the most fascinating incarnations: so wounded, but trying to find joy in things. There's a lot of hope in the Ninth Doctor, a man wanting to make things better but not always getting it right.

The Ninth Doctor's voice is quite staccato. Lots of short, sharp sentences and he loves his bad jokes too!

PCB Blog: Having written for multiple incarnations of the Doctor in your career, do you find it hard to capture the subtleties of each regeneration in your scripts? Are there any particular Doctors that are easier to write for than others?

Cavan: I love writing for the Sixth Doctor, as played by Colin Baker. He loved language and is full of moral outrage, but can also have beautiful quieter moments.

But before writing, I watch and rewatch their episodes. Actually, I don't always watch them. I play the episodes, but turn the screen away, listening to the way that they say things. It helps nail their voices.

PCB Blog: Does your method of writing vary between writing for the audiobooks and writing for comics? Are there any major differences behind-the-scenes between the two mediums?

Cavan: It's wonderful, you can actually show things! It may sound obvious, but with audio you largely need characters to explain what they're doing. My pet hate is having characters talking to themselves on the radio. It can't be helped at points, and we all do it, but I try to keep it to a minimum. Of course, with comics that isn't a problem.

And I love the collaborative aspects of working with an artist, seeing how they interpret my descriptions. It's been fab working with Blair, to bring our creations to life.

PCB Blog: Talking about your Ninth Doctor miniseries in particular, the story "Weapons of Mass Destruction" slots directly into the continuity of the show between "The Doctor Dances" and "Boom Town" - now obviously, the Ninth Doctor's era doesn't really lend itself to 'untold stories' with very few gaps between the episodes, but was there a reason you chose to focus on the Captain Jack and Rose pairing over any of the other moments from Series One? Did you ever consider creating new companions, as seen with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor series', possibly set prior to "Rose"?

Cavan: No, Jack was part of it from day one. We felt as if we hadn't seen enough of the three of them, so right from the beginning decided to tell a story of the three of them. Rose and Jack are such a part of the Doctor's restitution, that it would have been wrong not to include them.

Saying that, I'd love to pair Nine up with a new companion at some point.

PCB Blog: What teases can you give us for the remaining four issues of the miniseries?

Cavan: Arms dealers, floating octopus, supernovas, voids, unmaskings, secrets revealed, separations, reunions, dinosaurs.

PCB Blog: With Titan Comics expanding its line-up to include the Ninth Doctor miniseries, there is the chance that there might be more classic Doctor utilised in this miniseries format in the future. Which Doctor / Companion combination would you love to write for?

Cavan: In comics? The Fifth and Sixth Doctors in a heartbeat. Five with Tegan and Turlough and Six with Peri and, why not, Frobisher.

PCB Blog: You've written for multiple Doctors across the length of your career, covering the Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh incarnations. When it comes to structuring the plots, how often does the story dictate which Doctor will be featured, or do you start with a Doctor and build the plot around their strengths/weaknesses. Do you find there are certain types of stories that work better with specific incarnations of the Doctor?

CavanUsually I start with the Doctor and spin the story out from there. Obviously, village under siege stories work incredibly well with the Third and Fourth Doctors, but I'd love to see Nine having to cope with cults and villagers!

PCB Blog: Writing for a licensed character, especially within the confines of a flashback must feel limiting at times, unable to introduce major changes to the status-quo. As a writer, how do you manage to keep things interesting for yourself, and for the reader? Have you ever had to rewrite sequences because they contradict continuity, or feel tonally incorrect to the era?

CavanI always try to make sure that my work fits in with the tone of the seasons. Issue one of the Ninth Doctor was said in one review to feel like a mission episode. I loved that. Exactly what I wanted, but you do try to keep things fresh.

Not so much having to rewrite something in fiction, but we did have an illustration of the Eighth Doctor regenerating into the Ninth in Who-ology before it went to press. That obviously needed to change!

PCB Blog: Do you have any more Doctor Who work in the pipeline that you are able to tease?

Cavan: I'm currently working up two Doctor Who stories, but I can't say what they are, although one's for a Doctor I have written for before and one is for a Doctor that I haven't written for yet. Plus, there's one more collaboration with Mark Wright that has yet to be announced.

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

CavanI'm really enjoying Wayward (Japanese monsters galore) and Goners (more monsters) from Image Comics, as well as Copperhead (a western in space, what's not to love?), The Fade Out (LA noir) and Velvet (super-cool spy thrills). From the Big Two, Dan Slott's Silver Surfer is just a joy, Captain Marvel and Ms Marvel go from strength to strength and Scott Snyder's vision of Batman has been near perfect. Oh, and Gotham Academy as well. Hogwarts meets Arkham Asylum.

Today I also picked up Hit: 1957 issue one from Boom! Studios. More noir grittiness.

PCB Blog: Excellent. Thank you very much for your time, Cavan, and I look forward to reading the remainder of the Ninth Doctor miniseries.

Cavan Scott is available on Twitter under the username @CavanScott. Please give him a follow and let him know if you enjoyed this interview.

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor # 1 launched on 1st April 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.
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