Showing posts with label Sea Devils. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sea Devils. Show all posts

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4
"Clara Oswald and the School of Death" - Part 4 (of 4)
Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Rachael Stott
Colours by: Ivan Nunes

Robbie Morrison and Rachael Stott bring their first story-arc together to an action-packed conclusion, as the Doctor and his companions attempt to prevent the Sea Devils from taking over the world. With all the narrative cards on the table, this final installment is largely driven by action set-pieces which allow Stott’s artwork to take the centre-stage, especially with the double-page spread that opens up the issue. There’s a sense of joy to Stott’s work and it’s clear that she’s enjoying the opportunity to work on the character, bringing her “A-game” to each and every panel. While I wasn't overly enamored with her redesign of the Sea Devils, I do love her take on the Twelfth Doctor, which captures his mellower Season Nine persona perfectly, and her interpretation of Clara is brilliant too, specifically the moment when she rescues the Doctor from the crumbling ruins of Ravenscaur School. There’s a strong energy to her work that really gels well with Morrison’s scripts, and I’m looking forward to seeing her conjure up more science-fiction settings for the Doctor and Clara to visit.

Morrison has weaved a really fun story over the past four issues, taking a few jabs at public-school mentality and David Cameron along the way. It’s interesting how the choice of artist can influence the tone of the story – with certain other artists, this could have been a much darker adventure, but Stott’s style manages to keep things upbeat and light-hearted throughout, reminiscent of the Russell T. Davies era of the show at times. It was also fun to see him reinvent the Sea Devils, bringing them forth into the “NuWho” era of the franchise with a new look and more aggressive personality, not unlike the recent reworking of the Ice Warriors and Silurians. I also liked the inclusion of Kate Stewart and Osgood – while neither of them contributed directly to the storyline, it was fun to see Morrison acknowledge the supporting cast. Perhaps we might even see the Paternoster gang in a future storyline too?

Overall, this was another strong storyline for the Twelfth Doctor comic series – on first appearance; this story-arc doesn't seem to be setting up a “big bad” for the Year Two of stories, which suggests that Morrison may be adopting a different format for this run of adventures, possibly focusing more on unconnected adventures, rather than tying them together with a theme as he did in the previous series. Rachael Stott has proven herself to be a worthy addition to the Titan Comics team, and she shows all the signs of a rising star in the comics industry and I hope her work on Doctor Who will increase her profile, as she is a real talent. With great scripts and fantastic art, this really is a golden age for fans of Doctor Who comics as Titan Comics are producing some absolutely brilliant spin-off media here that is just as important as the show itself. If you’re missing this, you’re missing out…

Score - 9.5 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 3

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 3
"Clara Oswald and the School of Death" - Part 3 (of 4)
Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Rachael Stott
Colours by: Ivan Nunes

This penultimate episode of “Clara Oswald and the School of Death” is filled with the same chaotic energy of the preceding episodes as the Sea Devils, now unmasked before the Doctor and the reading audience, unveil their grand plan to influence political decisions regarding the environment. The more damage the Sea Devils can do to the eco-system via things like fracking and oil-framing, the more hospitable the Earth becomes to the creatures, enabling them to eradicate the human race and reclaim the planet for themselves. With the fictional Prime Minister Daniel Claremont sharing both the initials and a passing resemblance to real-life Prime Minister David Cameron, writer Robbie Morrison is able to use satire to make a statement about the environment policies of the Tory Party, as well as inferring that the private school elite are secretly cold-blooded lizards. I'm sure somewhere David Icke's ears are burning....

Rachael Stott continues to draw her heart out onto the page, showcasing her obvious love for the subject matter with every panel. You can tell from her artwork that this is a labour of love for her, and that passion is truly infectious. While I was initially unsure about the redesign of the Sea Devils, a brief bit of exposition for newcomers describes them as a warrior clan offshoot from the original incarnation of the creatures, complete with a lovely rendition of Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor, Katy Manning's Jo Grant and Roger Delgado's Master from “The Sea Devils”. This falls in line with other alien races, such as the Silurians themselves and even the Ice Warriors, which have slightly differently designed variants, often based on rank and seniority. I loved seeing Stott's take on the Third Doctor's era that I sincerely hope that Titan Comics consider asking her to illustrate a miniseries based on that time in the show – perhaps once the Fourth Doctor miniseries concludes? There are so many potential time periods from the show's fifty-two years of continuity to choose from, Titan Comics could easily end up printing twelve ongoing series – although that might stretch the wallet's of even the most hardcore Whovian!

Morrison manages to keep the narrative moving at a brisk pace, quickly revealing the Sea Devils' plan and then promptly foiling it through the Doctor's ingenuity. However, the stakes are raised high in the final sequence of this issue and I wonder if the cameo from UNIT in this episode is a portend towards a more militaristic solution as seen in the classic Third Doctor adventure, “The Silurians”. As with the Silurian-based adventures, the Doctor points out that the Sea Devils have more claim to the Earth than the humans based on their pre-historic roots with the planet – however, while the Silurians were more open to negotiation, as seen in “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood”, the Sea Devils appear more war-like than their land-dwelling cousins. I'm genuinely unsure of how the Doctor intends to defeat the armies of invading Sea Devils, although I suspect it will involve some sort of deus ex machina. While these new versions of the Sea Devils do come across like a mix of the Slitheen and the Silurians combined, they remain an interesting choice of monster and allow Morrison to rejuvenate a “forgotten foe” from the vaults – especially, one that is unlikely to return to the screens.

While initial episodes confirmed that this adventure took place during Season Nine, the appearance of the two Osgoods in this installment firmly places the adventure after the events of The Zygon Inversion”. With no new series of Doctor Who this year, the Twelfth Doctor comic series has the potential to fill the gap between Season Nine and Ten, possibly introducing new comics-only companions to replace Clara. If this does turn out to be the case, then Robbie Morrison's stories will become even more vital reading material for Doctor Who fans, offering the newest adventures of everyone's favourite time-lord until the show returns. As a relaunch of the Twelfth Doctor comic adventures, this storyline has done a tremendous job, capturing the spirit of Season Nine and bringing it to life on the page. Stott's artwork deserves all the praise it is getting, even from Peter Capaldi himself, as she captures the mannerisms and facial expressions inherent in the character. Quite simply, this series is the best medicine for any Whovians suffering Doctor Who withdrawal symptoms!

Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 3 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

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

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 2
"Clara Oswald and the School of Death" - Part 2 (of 4)
Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Rachael Stott
Colours by: Ivan Nunes

Wrapped up in an absolutely gorgeous Alex Ronald cover, this latest issue of the Twelfth Doctor series continues to deliver a dynamite storyline, thanks to the dynamic partnership of Robbie Morrison, Rachael Stott and Ivan Nunes. Ignoring chronology, much like the Doctor himself, I’m going to start off with the cliff-hanger reveal that the Sea Devils have returned – albeit in a modernised form, much like how the Silurians were revamped for “The Hungry Earth”. As soon as I saw that final page, my smug-o-meter nearly hit the roof, as I accurately predicted a revamp of the classic Sea Devils monster in my review for the previous issue. They are a fabulous enemy, and one of the first memories I have of watching Doctor Who from my childhood – as a result, I am slightly attached to their classic design and it may take a while for me to adjust to Rachael Stott’s re-imagining of the creatures.

The story itself feels like an amalgam of past Doctor Who stories, with the boarding school element reminiscent of “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood” and the alien species posing as members of the political elite coming straight from the Slitheen scheme from “Aliens of London” and “World War Three”. Also, the concept of an alien species manipulating children to achieve world domination was seen from the Krillitanes in “School Reunion”. Despite these ‘echoes’ of past storylines, Robbie Morrison manages to keep his script fresh and exciting – accurately hitting those classic Doctor Who story beats in the same way he has done in past stories such as “The Weeping Angels of Mons” and “The Fractures”. While all the writers of Titan Comics’ Doctor Who comic series are doing a fantastic job, Robbie Morrison’s work feels the most true to the spirit of the show.

Rachael Stott is fast achieving a reputation as a spectacular artist, and this issue offers further proof of that. Interestingly, the issue features a similar structure to the first, in that the Doctor and Clara are kept largely separate, with the Doctor finding himself outnumbered and in another scrape. Stott’s artwork captures the more light-hearted aspects of Peter Capaldi’s performance as the Twelfth Doctor, perfectly reflecting the slight change in his personality that occurred after Season 8’s conclusion. The sequence where the Doctor attempts to fight the disguised Sea Devils with a swordfish feels similar to his “spoon duel” with Robin Hood in “Robots of Sherwood” – another ‘echo’ that helps Morrison achieve his authentic Doctor Who flavour. Despite her natural affinity for the light-hearted sequences, Stott can also manage to generate tension and foreboding during some of the creepier sections, ensuring a strong balance between the humour and horror.

Overall, this was another kick-ass issue of the Twelfth Doctor comic adventures. I love the fact that Morrison is revisiting classic Doctor Who monsters, such as the Sea Devils, and giving them a new lease of life in this expanded universe canon. With appearances of Jack Harkness, River Song and even, Absalom Daak in the other Doctor Who comic series, it seems that Titan Comics is more willing to dig into the show’s rich continuity during this second year of stories, resulting in a more stronger line-up. Rachael Stott continues to woo my eyeballs with her wonderful artwork, and it’s clear that both creators have a true love for Doctor Who. It’s been a strong start for Year Two of the Twelfth Doctor adventures, and I am eager to see how Morrison and Stott plan to top this opening story-arc.

Score - 9.7 out of 10

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

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 1

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 1
"Clara Oswald and the School of Death" - Part 1 (of 4)
Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Rachael Stott
Colours by: Ivan Nunes

This second year of Twelfth Doctor stories is set firmly in the Season Nine timeline after the opening two-part storyline, “The Magician's Apprentice” and “The Witch's Familiar”, showcasing a more laid-back incarnation of the Twelfth Doctor, who is now sporting a more casual outfit and the Sonic Sunglasses introduced in those episodes. It's nice to see the series react to the changes in the TV show, and the “Year Two” banner makes it much clearer for readers to delineate which comic volumes align with which TV Seasons. Along with this change in chronology comes a change of artist, with Rachael Stott joining the series as the full-time artist. Stott has worked on the Ninth Doctor mini-series in the past and a story within the FCBD special, but this is her first full Doctor Who comic, and I have to say that she knocks it out of the park with this one.

I was lucky enough to meet with Rachael Stott during a signing at Orbital Comics in London, where she drew me an excellent Spider-Man/Doctor Who mash-up sketch, which can be viewed on our Facebook page! Already, I was impressed with her art style from the brief work she'd done in the past for Titan Comics, but I was wowed by the way both her and colorist, Ivan Nunes, were able to convey such a palpable atmosphere through their artwork, evoking that Gothic Horror from iconic Fourth Doctor stories such as, “Horror of Fang Rock”. Stott's more youthful take on the series and its characters fits nicely with the lighter version of the Twelfth Doctor seen in Season Nine, bringing a frivolity to her portrayal of the character that wasn't as pronounced in the previous year's worth of stories. Aside from focusing on ensuring the characters maintain their likenesses to the actors, Stott also excels at filling her environments with details and is given the opportunity to do so in this inaugural issue with the space-bar in the Rosette of Sirius, the scenic Scottish backdrop of Ravenscaur School and the alien-egg infested caves at the climax of this installment. It all looks absolutely beautiful and represents a confident start to a whole year of Twelfth Doctor stories.

When it comes to the script, Robbie Morrison continues to impress with another storyline that feels ripped from the DNA of the TV show itself. Having his cake and eating it too, Morrison manages to blend the outer-space antics of the Doctor with the low-key disappearance of Clara's friend with such skill that it feels like a Steven Moffat-written opening sequence to an episode. Eagle-eyed fans may notice a cameo from The Doctor Who Fan Show's Christel Dee as the friend of Clara's who disappears at the start of the issue, sparking the investigation into Ravenscaur school. The storyline itself feels reminiscent of “The Green Death”, albeit with a nautical theme as opposed to killer maggots. Part of me hopes that this might end up being a revamp or redesign of those classic monsters, The Sea Devils, but I suspect this is a whole new alien species. My only nit-pick throughout this episode was the brief references to the Marvel Comics characters, The Wasp and Doctor Doom - while it get it was a humourous aside, I wasn't that keen on the implication that Doctor Who takes place within the same universe. I guess the best way to explain it is that he is referencing the fictional characters, rather than the "real" versions...

Overall, this was a brilliant debut for the second year of stories with a fantastic new regular artist at the helm, creating a new tone for the series that manages to combine adventure and horror together with ease. Every panel of Rachael Stott's artwork looks gorgeous, with Ivan Nunes' pitch-perfect colours bringing out the best of her work. Demonstrating a capability to bring both the mundane and the otherworldly to life, I am excited to see Rachael tackle the wide spectrum of Doctor Who adventures under the pen of Robbie Morrison. The strength of quality behind this relaunched series is further evidence that Titan Comics knows exactly how to handle the Doctor Who licence and is producing some of the best supporting material out there, rivalling that of Big Finish and BBC Books. If you're not reading this series, you're missing out on some truly spectacular Doctor Who stories!

Score - 9.7 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 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!
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