Showing posts with label Doctor Who. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doctor Who. Show all posts

Friday, 10 February 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Review - Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 14

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 14
"Invasion of the Mindmorphs" (Part 1 of 2)
Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Rachael Stott
Colours by: Rod Fernandes

In a stark contrast to the high-stakes and cataclysmic endings seen in the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor series, Robbie Morrison opts for a surprisingly subdued and emotional two-parter for his Year Two finale - one that sees the Doctor playing matchmaker as he befriends two comic-book creators. The duo produce the Time Surgeon comic, a Doctor Who-inspired series that takes elements from the character’s lore and jumbles them together to produce an amusing parody of the real Doctor. It gets a bit Meta – a Doctor Who comic within a Doctor Who comic – but it is a fun insight into how normal people must deal with the urban myth of the Doctor. This isn’t the first time Morrison has tinkered with the idea, as he featured the Time Surgeon comic during his previous foray into meta-based storytelling, “The Fourth Wall”. In an effort to ‘get the story right’, the Doctor takes the bickering creators on a tour through time and space, introducing them to prehistoric dinosaurs and bizarre new worlds. It’s fun to see the pair gradually falling in love with each other, similar to how Ian and Barbara eventually became a couple after travelling together.

Rachael Stott returns to the series for its two-part season finale, and her artwork suits the more emotion-driven narrative of this adventure. Stott has a knack for channelling Peter Capaldi’s mannerisms onto the page, especially the maniacal glee with which he throws himself into adventures. I also liked her work on the opening pages of the Time Surgeon comic, creating a version of the Twelfth Doctor cobbled together from the rumours of others. Obviously, the fictional artist took the ‘punk rock’ aspect of the Twelfth Doctor’s personality a tad too literally as the Time Lord has a Mohawk, earrings and a neck tattoo. I also liked Stott’s take on the Master, known as the Minister in this fictional universe, and I would love to see her working on a Third Doctor series one day in the future.

This penultimate episode of the Twelfth Doctor’s second year of adventures offers a refreshingly different take on the ‘season finale’ with a relatively laid-back storyline that is a departure from the apocalyptic events of last year’s “The Hyperion Empire”. This story feels like a Christmas Special, minus all the seasonal trimmings that comes with that annual event, and it’s great to see Morrison focus squarely on the effect that the Doctor has on others, and their perception of him.

Score - 9.3 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 14 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 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, 11 January 2017

Review - Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13
"Terror of the Cabinet Noir" (Part 3 of 3)
Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Mariano Laclaustra
Colours by: Hernan Cabrera

The Twelfth Doctor’s sojourn into 17th Century France comes to a close in this issue as he finds himself up against creatures from the dark dimension attempting to use a total eclipse to gain entry into our world. While the plot is fairly straight-forward, the interplay between the Doctor and his latest temporary companion, Julie d’Aubigny, sparkles throughout the issue. Robbie Morrison weaves his story of dark matter creatures invading the Earth nicely around the real-life historical figures of La Maupin, Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV. I am a fan of this swashbuckling era and The Three Musketeers so it was great fun to see the Doctor running around in this era – while most writers would have gone for the musketeers as supporting characters, Morrison instead features d’Aubigny – a lesser-known but absolutely fascinating figure. The monsters at the heart of this storyline felt slightly underdeveloped, evoking memories of Nashta Verada and Morrison’s own creation – The Fractures. That said, they were brought to life on the page in brilliant fashion by Mariano Laclaustra with some truly haunting images, like the one below.

Laclaustra’s work on this story-arc, and this volume, has been absolutely out of this world, both figuratively and literally. It is always a pleasure to see an immense talent at work and Laclaustra is certainly that. I have to marvel at his ability able to recreate 17th Century France in intricate detail, transporting the reader there with a strong sense of authenticity. I’m a sucker for the historical stories in Doctor Who’s repertoire, and this creative team does a brilliant job at achieving the right balance of fact and fiction, educating whilst entertaining – which was Doctor Who’s original remit back in the early 1960s. I also like this concept of introducing temporary one-off companions to accompany the Doctor ahead of his Season Ten appearance later this year as it has allowed the writer’s to introduce some fun alternate takes on the female companion – making use of both the past and future to find potential candidates. Overall, this was a fun swashbuckler of a story-arc and I loved seeing the Doctor getting into sword fights and rubbing shoulders with iconic French historical figures. I wholeheartedly recommend this storyline to fans who loved Season Eight’sRobots of Sherwood” as it achieves that same balance of humour, action and history.

Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

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

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

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

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

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

Score - 9.7 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 3) # 1 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

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

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

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

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

Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 3) # 1 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

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

Doctor Who: The 3rd Doctor # 4 (of 5)
"The Heralds of Destruction" - Part 4 (of 5)
Written by: Paul Cornell
Art by: Christopher Jones
Colours by: Hi-Fi

After the shocking reveal that Ramon Salamander had appropriated the Second Doctor’s likeness in an effort to infiltrate UNIT, Paul Cornell uses the opening half of this fourth issue to fill in the blanks between adventures, providing a robust explanation for how the Second Doctor’s doppelganger survived his spell in the time-stream and somehow ended up in the 1970s alongside the Third Doctor. I loved that Cornell made use of aspects from “The Enemy of the World” and “The Web of Fear” to root Salamander’s survival in fact, making it a credible addition to canon. Having him spy on the Doctor and learn more about regeneration and the Time Lords throughout “The Three Doctors” was another inspired decision, smoothing over any concerns about continuity. Cornell also drops hints about Mike Yates’ eventual betrayal in “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”, setting up subplots for stories that took place forty-three years ago. This effort to recreate the Third Doctor’s era also extends to the characterisation of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and Roger Delgado’s Master, both of whom are brought together as ‘frenemies’ to fight against Salamander, accurately portraying the unique relationship between the two Time Lords.

This fourth issue continues to boast simply fantastic artwork from Christopher Jones, who manages to capture the nostalgia of the time period with his brilliantly detailed line work and photo-realistic interpretations of the main cast. The main highlight for me is the awe-inspiring double page spread that showcases the Doctor, the Master and the Brig engaging in combat with one of Salamander’s deadly machines. It’s simply stunning and executed perfectly. Jones adds some awesome visual flourishes into his artwork that heighten the connection to the Third Doctor’s era, such as using the red kaleidoscope background from the title sequence to depict the time vortex. This attention to detail extends to the 70s style grey warehouses and computers, which appear ripped straight from the screen and onto the page. Fans of the UNIT-era of Doctor Who will rejoice with joy at this carefully crafted slice of retrotastic awesomeness. Cornell and Jones manage to take all the best aspects of the Third Doctor’s tenure in the TARDIS and mix them together to produce the ultimate love letter to the Doctor’s time exiled on Earth.

Score - 9.8 out of 10

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

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Review - Doctor Who: The Rocket Men

Doctor Who: The Rocket Men
The Companion Chronicles 6.02
Written by: John Dorney
Directed by: Lisa Bowerman
Performed by: William Russell & Gus Brown
 60 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-84435-581-5
Chronology Placement: Between The Web Planet and The Crusade.

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 particular audio adventure features the First Doctor and his second group of companions: Ian, Barbara and Vicki. Told from Ian's perspective, this tale focuses on the romantic attachment forming between Ian and Barbara – an element of their relationship that was seldom explored in the televised adventures, although there have been references to them being together in spin-off materials. William Russell reprises the role of Ian perfectly, capturing his logical nature and his 'action man' status during those earlier adventures, contrasting against the Doctor's more cerebral solutions to problems. Writer John Dorney takes note of the differing personalities between Ian and Barbara – as he is ruled by his head, and she listens to her heart. It is clear to see how the pair eventually end up together, and Dorney does a great job at interpreting Ian's feelings and explaining why he doesn't begin a relationship with her during his adventures with the Doctor.

Dorney's script is absolutely razor-sharp and I love the way that the story is told in a non-linear fashion, embracing literary techniques such as flashbacks and flashforwards to induce suspense. Ultimately, the adventure is relatively straight-forward: a group of space pirates invade the tourist resort of Jobis and take the Doctor's companions hostage; but Dorney's heavy use of narrative trickery ensures that the story becomes more complex and engaging. He ends his first episode with a wonderful cliff-hanger that would have lost its edge if the tale had been told chronologically. Another aspect of his script that stood out for me was the way that he linked each transition by repeating the same words or phrases. It really helped emphasise the change in time period and almost became a game in itself to discover how he would link the two sections together.

The titular Rocket Men have proven to be something of a popular addition to the Big Finish universe, appearing again in the aptly-named Companion Chronicle, “Return of the Rocket Men” and then clashing with the Fourth Doctor and Leela in “Requiem for the Rocket Men”. I really liked the 1950s-inspired design of the characters and they seemed like an enemy that could definitely have appeared in the First Doctor's era. When Ian and the maniacal Ashman fight to the death in the cloudy skies of Jobis, you could almost visualise the Doctor Who production team of the time attempting to bring the battle to life with strings and close-up camera shots. Ultimately it works better as an audio adventure, allowing the listener to conjure up the fantastical imagery of the Jobis sky and the humongous manta-rays that float past. I was really impressed with this adventure and John Dorney's amazingly engaging script – I shall definitely seek out more from this writer in the future!

The Rocket Men can be ordered on CD and Download from or available externally from

Score - 9.2 out of 10

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 15 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

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

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

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

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

Score - 8.9 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 17 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

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, 30 November 2016

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

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 12
"Terror of the Cabinet Noir" (Part 2 of 3)
Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Mariano Laclaustra
Colours by: Carlos Cabrera

The Twelfth Doctor's adventures in 17th century France continue as he and new companion, Julie D'Aubigny, attempt to find out more about the sinister darkness consuming the high ranking officials in King Louis XIV's court. Robbie Morrison taps into a period of history that I was largely unfamiliar with, and creates a story so enthralling that it makes me hit Wikipedia to find out more about these real-life figures. If only my history teacher could have made learning this fun! My only experience with this era in French history is the equally fictional The Three Muskeeteers by Alexandre Dumas, and it's great fun to see the Doctor embroiled in this period of swashbuckling adventure, accompanied by a feisty female protagonist. Morrison does a great job at delivering the necessary exposition to explain how Cardinal Richelieu has tapped into the inter-dimensional energy that has extended his life beyond his original date of death – it never feels forced and flows naturally alongside the plot. Once again, Mariano Laclaustra switches art styles to depict the flashbacks, bringing an interesting 'sketchbook' narrative into play that helps distinguish the past from the present and injects a palpable feeling of 'storytelling' to events.

Laclaustra's artwork is simply breathtaking throughout this storyline, and every panel is rich with atmosphere, conjuring up the darkness and suspicion of the era. Even in the quieter moments within the TARDIS, Laclaustra experiments with his artwork adding visual effects such as blurring to remove the focus from the foreground when the Doctor and Julie examine the sliver of dark matter. Laclaustra does a great job with the interior of the TARDIS, using various light filters to exaggerate the gadgetry and illuminous nature of the time machine. It's a great juxtaposition to witness his artwork transition between these futuristic settings into the low-tech world of 17th Century Paris. His likeness of the Doctor is staggeringly realistic, and partnered with Morrison's authentic dialogue – this is the perfect antidote for those Doctor Who withdrawals since last Christmas. I'm a huge fan of the historical storylines in the Doctor Who universe, and I really admire the talent of writers who are able to weave a thrilling adventure in amongst the established lore of the time period. If you've been curious what the Doctor has been up to throughout 2016 whilst he has been off our TV screens, then this is the place to go to find out. Absolutely top-notch storytelling and one of those tales that you'd swear you'd seen on the TV before.

Score - 9.8 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 12 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

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

Doctor Who: The 3rd Doctor # 3 (of 5)
"The Heralds of Destruction" - Part 3 (of 5)
Written by: Paul Cornell
Art by: Christopher Jones
Colours by: Hi-Fi

Wow, I did not see that coming at all. Paul Cornell demonstrates his capacity to surprise as he reaches deep into Doctor Who's history for an obscure slice of continuity, revealing the architect of the Third Doctor's troubles to be Ramon Salamander – the Second Doctor's doppelganger from the serial, “The Enemy of the World”. It's a brilliantly bold choice of villain, and a lovely way to fool the readers into expecting a “The Three Doctors” reunion, but instead getting the return of Salamander instead. However, Salamander's appearance certainly leaves us with plenty of unanswered questions, such as how did he survive being expelled into the Time Vortex, and how does he know about the Second Doctor and the Time Lords? I'm sure Cornell will provide us with these much-needed answers in the remaining issues of the miniseries. Throughout the adventure, Cornell's script remains utterly authentic to the era – capturing the vocal stylings of all the main characters with ease, so much so that you can actually hear the likes of Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Nicholas Courtney and Roger Delgado reading the lines out loud in your head. With most of the cast from this era no longer with us, it is particularly special to be able to experience this 'untold story' with them.

Christopher Jones' amazing artwork is the perfect accompaniment to Paul Cornell's pitch-perfect recreation of the Third Doctor's era. Jones manages to evoke memories of that classic period in Doctor Who history with his startlingly accurate renderings of the various actors from that era. His take on Roger Delgado is simply amazing – capturing his micro-expressions and body language alongside his actual likeness. I'm a huge fan of the rivalry between his incarnation of the Master and Jon Pertwee's Doctor, so its great to see a double-page spread dedicated to the Doctor and the Master as they engage in a bit of Venusian Aikido, Martian Kendo and Mercurian Kung Fu. This miniseries is a wonderful trip down memory lane for fans of the Third Doctor era, and while Cavan Scott has been exploring this time period in his brilliant Ninth Doctor series, Cornell and Jones nail that real sense of nostalgia in a much more effective manner with their flawless blend of art and script. Throwing Salamander into the mix just sends this series up into the stratosphere – it has the perfect mix of UNIT espionage, classic monsters and flamboyant arch-villains. Three issues in, and this series has achieved 'Ten out of Ten' scores with every installment. This is the closest thing to perfection to come out of Titan Comics' Doctor Who line so far! No need to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow with this one, Doctor...

Score - 10 out of 10

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