Showing posts with label Cybermen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cybermen. Show all posts

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, 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, 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, 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!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Review - Doctor Who: Human Resources (Part 2)


Doctor Who: Human Resources (Part 2)
The Eighth Doctor Adventures 1.8
Written by: Eddie Robson
Directed by: Nicholas Briggs
Performed by: Paul McGann & Sheridan Smith
Duration: 60 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-84435-262-3
Chronology Placement: After the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie and Human Resources (Part 1)

Business as usual? Not at Hulbert Logistics, where staff are facing a menace far worse than the prospect of the office Christmas party. Lucie’s made some new friends and the Doctor’s met some old enemies. But just who will become the Headhunter’s new apprentice? Welcome to the job interview from hell.

This concluding episode of “Human Resources” serves as a season finale for this first series of Eighth Doctor Adventures. Eddie Robson's script manages to deliver not just a satisfying conclusion to his Cybermen storyline, but also provides an engaging explanation behind Lucie Miller's “witness protection” in the TARDIS. Whereas the previous installment was largely set-up and intrigue, rich with an atmosphere that resembled Ricky Gervais' The Office, Robson focuses more on action and the threat of the Cybermen, who were revealed as the victims and not the masterminds of the Hulbert Logistics army.

Moreso than previous releases in this series, this adventure made use of the larger continuity of the Doctor Who universe, referencing both the Time Lords High Council and the Celestial Intelligence Agency. Not only is this a nice nod for long-term fans, but these organisations are introduced in a manner that makes them accessible to new listeners, familiar only with the “new Who” continuity. In fact, this whole run of stories has been a fantastic example of Big Finish's audio range and with the relatively blank slate of continuity with the Eighth Doctor – fans of the post-2005 series are able to enjoy these adventures without much knowledge of the classic series.

I really enjoyed the presence of the Cybermen in this installment, although their voices did take a bit of getting used to. As the current voice of the Cybermen (and Daleks) Nicholas Briggs provides a nice link between the old and new incarnations of Doctor Who, although these are Mondasian Cybermen and not the Cybus variants currently seen in the new series. Again, keen-eared fans will pick up references to previous Cybermen adventures such as, “The Tenth Planet” and “The Invasion”, adding a sense of history and nostalgia to proceedings.

While most of the drama was derived from the Cybermen and their retaliatory attack against Hulbert Logistics, Eddie Robson also provides a strong conclusion to the long-running mystery around Lucie Miller’s role as a companion forced upon the Doctor. I quite liked the misdirection around this particular plot point, with multiple revelations forming the bulk of the third act of this storyline. I was very impressed by how well it all tied together in a really satisfying manner, even resulting in two potential recurring enemies for our TARDIS team.

Once again, Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith were on fine form as the Doctor and Lucie, developing their relationship further and building a real sense of trust and camaraderie, which makes the listener accept the duo’s decision to continuing travelling together now that they are no longer bound to each other. As mentioned before, Nicholas Briggs plays the Cybermen to perfection, distinguishing them from the Daleks with a more calculated nature. I also enjoyed Katarina Olssen’s deliciously smarmy Headhunter, and look forward to seeing her return in future adventures – hopefully with more interaction with the Doctor next time!

Overall, “Human Resources” has been more than a worthy conclusion to this first season of Eighth Doctor Adventures. With a series structure clearly influenced by modern-day Doctor Who and relatively light continuity, this is a set of adventures that I would whole-heartedly recommend to any Doctor Who fan curious about previous incarnations after watching “The Day of the Doctor”. To me, this series is as essential as the television show itself and should be sitting pride of place next to every Doctor Who fan’s DVD box sets.


Doctor Who: Human Resources (Part 2) is available as a CD or Download from Big Finish, or available externally from Amazon.co.uk

Score - 9.8 out of 10


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Review - Doctor Who: Human Resources (Part 1)


Doctor Who: Human Resources (Part 1)
The Eighth Doctor Adventures 1.7
Written by: Eddie Robson
Directed by: Nicholas Briggs
Performed by: Paul McGann & Sheridan Smith
Duration: 60 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-84435-261-6
Chronology Placement: After the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie and No More Lies

Lucie Miller's been head-hunted to join the staff of Hulbert Logistics, a respectable blue-chip firm in Telford. Great prospects, competitive salary - you don't have to be mad to work here! But wasn't she made for better things, like travelling by TARDIS through time and space? The Doctor, meanwhile, has been fired - into a confrontation with the most terrifying of enemies...

This two-part conclusion to the first series of the Eighth Doctor Adventures promises to reveal the truth behind Lucie Miller and why she was placed in “witness protection” with the Doctor. The mystery behind Lucie has been a recurring theme throughout each of the audio adventures, much like the references to Bad Wolf, Torchwood and Harold Saxon were throughout the initial three seasons of the reboot.

It's been impressive to watch Big Finish replicate the same format seen in the current incarnation of the TV show, with single episode adventures and a season-long plot arc. It certainly helps build a bridge between the classic adventures and the modern day approach. While I was initially sceptical of Russell T Davies' decision to scrap the multi-episode stories and cliff-hangers of the past, I have grown to appreciate this more modern approach to serialised television drama.

As the first episode of a two-parter, it comes as no surprise that this installment is more concerned with setting the scene and building up the tension, which it does fantastically. Eddie Robson's script manages to slowly peel back the fa├žade of the seemingly ordinary Hulbert Logistics, teasing listeners with the promise of hidden menace behind the office gossip and PA announcements of Fantasy Football leagues. There's some excellent dialogue and banter between the characters here – something that has been prevalent throughout the entire series, but really shines through here.

I really enjoyed the way that Eddie Robson's script and Nicholas Briggs' stage direction helped conjure up an environment akin to that of The Office, swapping Slough for Telford and introducing a David Brent-esque embarrassing boss in the form of Jerry. It feels easily identifiable and relatable...well, until the weirdness starts. This approach of focusing on the mundane aspects of the extraordinary also reminded me heavily of the Hank Scorpio episode of The Simpsons, where Homer inadvertently gets a job working for a James Bond super-villain organisation and reminds completely oblivious to what's actually happening.

Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith continue to excel in their roles as the Doctor and Lucie, demonstrating a firm friendship that has evolved over their time together. I've always been a fan of the Eighth Doctor, mostly due to the fact he had all that unexplored potential after the 1996 Movie ended, and this series definitely capitalises on that missed opportunity, giving Paul McGann's Doctor some excellent moments and character development.

Overall, this is a stunning start to what promises to be an excellent conclusion. Despite being credited on the front cover, I liked how Robson saves the Cybermen up for the cliff-hanger reveal, giving the Doctor an additional foe to fight alongside Hulbert Logistics. I also expected them to be revealed as the puppet-masters behind Hulbert Logistics, so it was very refreshing to see them as “the victims”, rather than the masterminds. With strong writing, natural dialogue and a very tangible Doctor Who feel to proceedings – this could easily have featured on TV as a Ninth Doctor and Rose televised storyline – it feels just as worthy as any of the episodes seen in Season One of the rebooted series, and the perfect way to cap off this first series of Eighth Doctor Adventures.

Doctor Who: Human Resources (Part 1) is available as a CD or Download from Big Finish, or available externally from Amazon.co.uk

Score - 9.6 out of 10


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor # 13

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor # 13
"Conversion" Part 2 (of 2)
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Warren Pleece
Colours by: Hi-Fi

Action is the name of the game for this concluding episode of “Conversion”, which sees the Doctor and his companions taking on an army of Cybermen advancing onto Ancient Rome. However, these are not your ordinary Cybermen, instead they are ‘infected’ by the Entity and endowed with the added ability to hypnotise their victims into seeing their hearts desire, making them powerless to resist assimilation into the hive mind. Rob Williams and Warren Pleece waste no time throwing the Doctor and his three companions into the mix as a brutal battle takes place amongst the two armies.

After his stunning final page reveal of the Cybermen last issue, I was worried that there would be a loss of detail when the creatures were depicted “in action” and across many panels, but Warren Pleece continues to draw the creatures with such wonderful realism that you’d think they were sketches of scenes from the show. The whole issue is filled with some wonderful set-pieces, choreographed by Williams and Pleece, who bring the excellent concept of Romans fighting Cybermen to life.

Williams’ script, while action-heavy at times, works well as a prelude to the “season finale” with both Jones and the Entity disappearing and the Doctor left slightly defeated and unsure of himself. Looking ahead to the post ‘Year One’ stories, it seems both ARC and Jones are no longer travelling with the Doctor and Alice, so I suspect both of their storylines will come to a conclusion in the finale. As such, I have a theory…which might be a bit bonkers! Given all of the time-wimey elements of Ewing and Williams’ story so far, could Jones turn out to be the combination of ARC and the Entity reunited at last, or maybe the third missing ingredient? Once all three are united, maybe Jones becomes the “music legend” that Alice and her mother remember, and the Doctor will be leaving his companion better off than how he found him – it would also act as a nice resolution to the storyline, and possibly explain his “chameleonic ability” to blend in.


I was also surprised by the level of authenticity to the historical references in the story – having only a general knowledge of the Roman Empire, I googled the two emperors (Maxentius and Constantine) featured in the story and found out that the two were engaged in a civil war to decide who would be the sole emperor of Rome. The story also tied into Constantine’s religious policies, where upon he was the first emperor to stop Christian persecutions and legalise Christian Empire. I quite like this pseudo-education element of the story, which tied into the TV series’ origins as an educational programme for children using entertainment to tell stories in the past and speculative future. However, I don’t recommend any history students out there cite the Cybermen as a contributing factor to the ascension of Emperor Constantine.

Overall, this was a strong finish to the “Conversion” storyline, making use of an iconic Doctor Who monster in a fresh and interesting way. I also liked the way it set events up for the “season finale”, placing one of the companions in peril and sending the Doctor, Alice and ARC on the road towards a final confrontation with the Talent Scout and the Entity. Bonus points go to whoever came up with the idea for that excellent Simon Fraser cover, poking fun at Rory’s role as “the last Centurion”. It’s the perfect fan in-joke and brilliantly brought to life.


Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor # 13 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor # 12

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor # 12
"Conversion" Part 1 (of 2)
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Warren Pleece
Colours by: Hi-Fi

Returning to scripting duties for the penultimate episode of ‘Year One’, Rob Williams focuses on the search for the entity creature which is afraid and on the run, using limited time travel ability picked up from its time in the TARDIS to hide from both the Doctor and the Talent Scout. Also returning is Warren Pleece, who drew the two-parter storyline across Issues 7 and 8. Ahead of the issue's release, Titan Comics teased a surprise reveal on the final page, and they certainly made good on their promise with the appearance of an old enemy.

Much like Steven Moffat’s epic season finales, this story spans a diverse range of geographical and chronological locations, starting with the Berlin Wall in the mid-1970s towards Ancient Rome. I really enjoy this “big budget” approach to travelling through time and space, rather than remaining fixed on one specific time and place throughout a story. It works well in the televised stories and given the limitless possibilities of the comic book page, I'm happy to see it being utilised here too. Considering that this whole series of comics is set shortly after the events of Season 5, the historical setting of Ancient Rome naturally draws parallels with “The Pandorica Opens”, something the creators are keenly aware of, given that the cover for the next issue features the Doctor dressed in Roman clothing with the speech bubble, “Eat your heart out, Rory Williams”.


Both Rob Williams and Al Ewing have been restrained when it comes to featuring the more infamous members of the Doctor’s rogue’s gallery, aside from an appearance of classic Doctor Who villain, The Nimon. This strategy makes the surprise reveal of the Cybermen all the more effective – and I'm glad that the duo were tight-lipped about their inclusion. It reminds me of the shock reveal of the Cyberman, and then the Daleks, in “Army of Ghosts” and makes for a wonderful cliff-hanger, especially when you consider that the Entity is possessing the entire Cyberman army making them even more dangerous. I have to also say that Warren Pleece’s artwork on that final page is simply amazing, perfectly capturing the likeness of the metal monsters, enhancing the gut-punch reveal. I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing more of Pleece’s take on the Cybermen throughout the next issue.

Talking of Warren Pleece's artwork, he does a fantastic job throughout the entire issue, especially during the sequence where the Doctor and Jones ride a motorcycle along the top of the Berlin Wall. I could totally see that appearing in the show itself as an opening set-piece to an episode, which just proves how in tune with the TV show that Rob Williams' script is. With three episodes remaining of this current “season”, it feels as if all the pieces are falling into place regarding ServeYouINC, the Talent Scout and the Entity and I'm excited to seeing it all come together. Both Rob Williams and Al Ewing have done some fantastic work over the course of this series, capturing the essence of the TV show and the knack of the season-long plot arc. This series has consistently been at the top of my “must-read” list each and every month, and I'm eagerly awaiting the conclusion of this year-long arc.

Score - 9.5 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor # 12 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Review - Doctor Who: The Blue Tooth


Doctor Who: The Blue Tooth
The Companion Chronicles 1.03
Written by: Nigel Fairs
Directed by: Mark J Thompson
Performed by: Caroline John & Nicholas Briggs
Duration:
 60 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-84435-265-4
Chronology Placement: Between Inferno and Terror of the Autons

One of Big Finish's most popular Doctor Who audio ranges is The Companion Chronicles, which focuses primarily on the adventures of the first three Doctors, as these Doctors are no longer with us. Rather than full-cast audio dramas, these adventures take the form of a two-person performance, with one of the Doctor's companions narrating an "unseen" adventure and a second supporting character taking part at times to add some variation and prevent it from becoming a monologue. They also tend to be shorter than the Big Finish's full-cast audios, typically with two half hour episodes on one CD.

This release, The Blue Tooth, is narrated by Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw, a UNIT scientist. Unlike other companions of that era, Liz never travelled in the Third Doctor’s TARDIS and was almost his equal when it came to science. As such, the two never really ended up with the same close relationship that he eventually came to have with both Jo Grant and Sarah-Jane Smith. This audio drama addresses the decision by Liz to leave both UNIT and the Doctor behind, something that occurred off-screen between the transition of Season 7 and 8.

Faced with the rare opportunity of a few days off, Liz contacts her old university friend, Jean Basemore, for a catch up in Cambridge. However, when Jean doesn't show up for their meeting, it prompts an investigation into her disappearance that brings Liz herself into danger, and reintroduces an old enemy from the Doctor's past: The Cybermen.

Jon Pertwee's Doctor never faced the Cybermen on screen, possibly due to their over-exposure during the Patrick Troughton era. However that misdeed has been rectified in this story, which draws a lot of its plot from the aftermath of the Second Doctor story, The Invasion and finally puts the character of the 3rd Doctor against a Cyberman threat.

This story had a nice slow build-up with Caroline John taking most of the narration duties until the Cybermen themselves appear in the latter half, voiced by Nicholas Briggs (who also voices them in the current series of Doctor Who). John manages to convey the story well, although I found her delivery was a bit quick in places and disorientating, especially when describing action scenes. As the Cyberman are hardly the most vocal of enemies, Nicholas Briggs doesn’t feature too much in this audio adventure, making it seem more like a solo story. While Caroline John does attempt to use different voices for the Brigadier and the Doctor, they aren’t the most effective; however, it isn’t too jarring.

I particularly liked the script which really captured some of the subtleties of both Liz’s character and the 3rd Doctor. For example, the description of the Doctor rubbing the back of his neck whilst speaking to Liz was very accurate as it was a common trait of Jon Pertwee’s on-screen and it helped me visualise the scene perfectly. Within her narration, Liz comes across as an older and somewhat wiser version of the character she played in the 1970’s, aware of her shortcomings as an ‘academic’ with little time for frivolous things.

I loved the fact that the Cybermats are referenced, especially as they’ve made resurgence in the current series too. The evolution of both the Cybermen and the Cybermats is an interesting concept and even though the changes to their ‘methods’ are contained to just within this audio – it is curious to note that some of the ‘upgrades’ that featured here, such as the smaller insect-like Cybermats, eventually appear in the recent episode, Nightmare in Silver.

Overall, this was a fun story set within a period of the show which is ripe for exploration, as there is something of a blank space between Liz’s departure and the introduction of Jo Grant. I liked the continuity references in this audio, remembering that the Brigadier had encountered the Cybermen before and introducing Mike Yates as a newly arrived Captain. It is these little touches that make it much easier to fit these audio adventures in with the canon of the televised serials.

The Blue Tooth can be ordered on CD from BigFinish.com or available externally from Amazon.co.uk

Score - 8.2 out of 10

"Dental Danger with the Cybermen"

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