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

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 13
"Fast Asleep"
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: INJ Culbard & Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

After a year of fake-outs and dead-ends, this issue of the Eleventh Doctor series from Titan Comics finally reveals who was responsible for the creation of the Malignant, and it looks like a bit of a group effort to be honest. These past three issues set deep within the Time War have been utterly enthralling from start to finish, providing some of the best Doctor Who sequences ever committed to the page. It has been such an engaging interlude that I could easily read an ongoing series focused on the War Doctor, The Master and The Squire as they traverse the battlefields of the Time War battling allies of the Daleks. Williams has the unenviable task of explaining the complicated origin of the Malignant and the Then and the Now, and despite paradoxes aplenty and enough timey-wimey goodness to feed a Weeping Angel for eternity, it remains a fantastic and easy to follow read. Never losing sight of the human element of this story (Alice), Williams crafts a cataclysmic universe-ending set piece that rivals the scale of ending of “The Pandorica Opens”. Not content with the rather clever revelations within his story, he caps it off with a humdinger of a cliff-hanger involving the Squire and Absalom Daak. Obviously, there’s no way this issue couldn’t earn any less than a 10 out of 10 score!

Artists INJ Culbard and Simon Fraser work together on this issue as each artist handles a different Doctor’s timeline and the result is a wonderful visual treat for the readers. The two artists’ styles gel rather nicely together and it’s a lovely directorial device to showcase the two different eras in play throughout this adventure. Given the whole whodunnit nature of this second year, the success of this storyline ultimately hinged on this reveal and I have to say that Williams (and Spurrier) have done an absolutely fantastic job on nailing that landing. While some elements of the big reveal were telegraphed, there were some lovely additions that I didn’t see coming. I particularly liked how Williams incorporated The Master’s regeneration into Derek Jacobi’s Doctor Yana from “Utopia” into his plot, providing an in-continuity explanation behind his memory loss in that episode. I’m a sucker for a bit of pre-destination in time-travel stories and this ‘time loop’ and the way that the Then and the Now was responsible for its own creation in a Dave Lister-sort of way was an inspired decision. This whole year of adventures has been fantastically plotted from the outset and the attention to detail and continuity has been utterly flawless. While I enjoyed the intricate narrative of the Eleventh Doctor’s Year One adventures, this mega-epic has surpassed it entirely. The Doctor better watch his back because he has two rival time-lords in Williams and Spurrier.

Score - 10 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 12

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 12
"Kill God"
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: INJ Culbard
Colours by: Marcio Menys

Taking the narrative baton from his co-writer, Rob Williams returns to the Eleventh Doctor comic series to continue the flashback tale from the Time War started by Si Spurrier last issue. INJ Culbard's beautiful artwork remains the backbone to this story-arc, offering a visual 'breath of fresh air' that suits this change to the series' timeline. The decision to send Alice back to the Time War to learn about (and potentially influence) the events that led to the Cylors becoming the Malignant has been an inspired one, riffing on Back to the Future by having Alice interacting with the past. Rather than a staid 'two-dimensional' flashback, the inclusion of a present day Alice adds a whole new element to proceedings and a touch of the 'timey wimey'. Williams' script maintains the pace set in Spurrier's initial installment, and he captures the world-weary nature of the War Doctor and the craftiness of the Master – even though these two are working together, the Master remains out for himself and quick to cause havoc. The sequence where the Master summons the Time Lord army, only for them to be wiped out by the Cylors, is a perfect example of his duplicity and is subtly showcased in the episode by Williams and Culbard.

There's some really great moments in this issue, especially the sequence that sees Alice pitted against one of the Volatix Cabal. Williams and Spurrier have created a really menacing set of creatures here, taking the genocidal efficiency of the Daleks and adding a dash of 'mad scientist' to the mix to create something truly ungodly. Given how the Daleks themselves have yet to be seen in a Titan Comics' comic, I'm guessing there's a rights-issue that prevents them from being shown. If this is true, then it may be a blessing in disguise as it has allowed Williams and Spurrier to create this wonderful subversion on the traditional Dalek. The highlight of this issue for me was the mischievous nature of the Master, and how his actions seemed to have caused some sort of paradox which presumably leads to the creation of the Malignant. As this series hurtles to its conclusion there's still plenty of unanswered questions left to go and I am hungry for answers! I've loved every moment of this dense narrative that refuses to compromise and instead has delivered a solid, twisty-turny plot rewarding those loyal readers who've stuck with it. While it might be a tough task for new readers to jump in at this climactic stage, I strongly urge any Whovians suffering from the Doctor Who drought to go back and pick up the collected editions to catch up. Doctor Who or not, this is some of the best science-fiction storytelling in comics today!

Score - 9.8 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

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

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 11
"The Organ Grinder"
Written by: Si Spurrier
Art by: INJ Culbard
Colours by: Marcio Menys

Taking place during the Time War, this issue of the Eleventh Doctor comic series is a highly unusual departure from the series in that it doesn’t contain the Eleventh Doctor in it at all, instead Si Spurrier focuses on John Hurt’s War Doctor as the lead protagonist. With Alice trapped in the time-locked paradox, she is able to provide a first-hand look at the events of the Time War which led to the Eleventh Doctor’s current situation. Despite the absence of the series’ titular character, this issue loses none of its pace and in fact, it benefits from the sudden momentum in narrative as the readers are finally given answers to the mysteries that have ran deep throughout the past ten issues. I was quite pleased with the reveal of the Doctor’s young boy companion, which offers a surprising new addition to Doctor Who lore – adding a bonus incarnation of The Master in the Time War – presumably taking place between Alex MacQueen’s current incarnation in the Big Finish audios and Derek Jacobi’s Professor Yana who appeared in “Utopia”. It’s great to see the Doctor’s age-old nemesis inhabiting the body of a young boy, showcasing the unpredictability of Time Lord regeneration and even foreshadowing his eventual appearance as a female in Season Eight.

One of the highlights of this issue is the fabulously freaky Volatix Cabal – a group of deformed Daleks who are only allowed to exist because their madness allows them to create deadly weapons and creatures for use in the Time War. Spurrier captures the madness of these monsters perfectly during their interrogation scene with Alice, making use of different fonts to emphasise their craziness. Some of their bizarre non-sequiturs and creepy statements are quite disturbing and makes them much more scary than their Extermination-focused counterparts. They are a great twist on the Dalek concept, and a worthy enemy for the War Doctor to face during the Time War – interestingly, this issue seems to debut the concept of the Daleks hiding in Human skins, first seen in the TV episode “Asylum of the Daleks”, implying that the Volatix Cabal designed this ingenious weapon. Alongside this fantastic portrayal of the Daleks, Spurrier also strikes gold with his representation of the War Doctor. With scant appearances in the television show proper, the War Doctor is something of a blank slate and Spurrier captures the driven nature of this war-weary soldier perfectly, partnering him with his arch-nemesis in a desperate effort to end the Time War.

Making his debut on the Eleventh Doctor series is INJ Culbard, an artist who I've discovered through his absolutely beautiful work in 2000AD on series' such as Brass Sun and Brink. Unsurprisingly, his artwork here is truly brilliant too and within seconds, he makes the series his own. His interpretation of John Hurt's War Doctor is amazing, capturing both the actor's likeness and the inherent 'soul' of the character. One of Culbard's strengths is his ability to effortlessly convey the emotions of the characters through facial expressions, using subtle changes to communicate the thoughts and feelings going through their head. The sequence where Alice is being interrogated by the Volatix Cabal is a particular highlight, not only for Spurrier's creepy dialogue but also for the raw emotion that Culbard brings out in his artwork as a terrified Alice deals with some unbalanced Daleks.

After a slower pace in the past few issues, this Time War-centric installment has reinvigorated this already great series and propelled the narrative into a whole new direction. Ironically, this issue has benefitted from the removal of its lead character as the spotlight is shone firmly onto a new set of protagonists. Presumably, the next issue will continue to reveal the secrets of the Time War, leaving the final three episodes to bring this epic year-long adventure to a close. This second volume has been an ambitious Doctor Who story, and for the most part, Rob Williams and Si Spurrier have delivered a wonderfully epic adventure that scratches that Time War itch that many long-time fans of the series have. While it has been more dense and focused than its fellow Titan Comics series, I have loved the 'whodunnit' approach to this storyline and the twists and turns that Williams and Spurrier have dragged the reader through. Once completed, I have no doubt whatsoever that this storyline will be regarded as one of the high points in Doctor Who's comic-book history - It's just that good!

Score - 10 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 11 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, 8 June 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10
"First Rule"
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

With its tenth issue, The Eleventh Doctor comic series ends its second act and places the Doctor at its lowest ebb since this storyline begun. Aware that he is unable to re-enter the Time War, he manipulated Alice’s emotions to spur her on to hijack the Master’s TARDIS and break the time-lock herself. Unfortunately, he also planned for Absalom Daak to accompany her into the Dalek-infested war zone but events didn’t quite work out that way. The scene where the Eleventh Doctor snaps and fights back against Daak is suitably shocking and displays a whole different side to the Eleventh Doctor as he finds himself with his back up against the wall and forced to rely on his companions, gambling their lives to further his plans. Simon Fraser’s artwork really helps nail the emotional consequences of the Doctor’s actions over the past few episodes, especially the sequence where a distraught Doctor pounds away on the Squire’s chest as she dies. It’s certainly a bleak chapter and as with the first year of stories, it focuses on the ‘grey area’ in which the Doctor operates – sometimes doing bad things for the greater good.

Rob Williams’ script crackles with energy, despite the dour mood to the story and effortlessly picks up and runs with the baton from Si Spurrier’s hard work over the past few issues. Despite the apparent death of the Squire in this episode, I’m convinced that there is more to this character than meets the eye and I suspect that her ‘death’ may end up revealing more about her true purpose and identity later down the road. While this episode is largely transitional in nature, the emotional impact from Fraser’s sublime artwork and Williams’ excellent script really elevate the episode above recent instalments. The current storyline is so engrossing and enthralling in equal measures that the monthly issues struggle to sate my hunger for more delicious Doctor Who adventures, and I suspect the story would benefit from a binge-read in trade paperback format, given its novel-style structure. Williams, Spurrier and their team of gifted artists have really struck gold with this storyline and ten episodes in, I remain fully engaged with the lengthy “whodunnit” and cannot wait to get some real answers to the conundrum that has haunted the Doctor since the beginning of this second volume. If you're not reading this fantastic series, you're missing out on some of the best Doctor Who stories told in any medium.

Score - 9.5 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor (Vol. 2) # 10 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, 23 December 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Warren Pleece
Colours by: Hi-Fi

This fourth issue of the 11th Doctor comic series sees the return of artist Warren Pleece, who drew some key issues in the first year of stories. Unfortunately, this change in artist does require a brief adjustment period after three issues of excellent Simon Fraser artwork. That's not to say that Pleece's artwork is sub-par, but there is a noticeable difference in styles that takes some getting used to. Fraser has certainly put his mark on Absalom Daak and The Squire, leaving Pleece's interpretations to feel less authentic. Again, the problem isn't with Pleece's artwork, but more the juxtaposition between art styles which seems far more jarring here compared to the other Doctor Who comic series where the artists tend to have similar styles, or are used on separate and distinct story-arcs. The fact that this is all one rolling storyline doesn't help mask the inconsistencies between art styles. That said, I do like the simple and straight-forward style that Pleece brings to the comic, bringing a different tone to the comic as the Doctor and his companions search for clues to the series' over-arching mystery.

The mystery surrounding whether The War Doctor was responsible for creating The Malignant during The Time War remains central to this second year of stories as writer Rob Williams introduces more clues, including a potential mastermind behind the whole scheme. As with the preceding issue, Alice sees a mixture of visions from the past and future, which seemingly make no sense out of context, but assures the reader that Williams and Spurrier have spun a narrative equally as complex and organised as the first year's “timey wimey” story-arc involving ServeYouINC. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each issue reveals more hidden pieces regarding The War Doctor and the Time War. I am a sucker for a good mystery – it's part of the reason why LOST became a personal obsession for six years of my life – and this series is shaping up to be a thoroughly rewarding read, bringing in recent revelations from “The Day of the Doctor” to create a truly compelling mystery from the very DNA of the show.

The reveal that the Master may be the one responsible for framing the Doctor was a huge surprise for me. For some reason, I'd assumed that he wouldn't be appearing in any of the Titan Comics spin-off media, especially considering chronologically these adventures take place after “The End of Time” where the Master gets sent back to the Time War with the rest of the Time Lords. I am very curious to see which incarnation of the Master we get to see in this adventure – whether it is John Simm's version before he regenerates into Michelle Gomez's Missy, or whether it is an unseen version from The Time War that eventually becomes Professor Yana (Derek Jacobi) from “Utopia”. Given the appearance of the little boy in a number of the War Doctor's flashback sequences over the past four issues, I also wonder whether the Master may have regenerated into the body of a child, creating a situation even more unusual than a Doctor and Master of opposite genders.

Overall, this was another strong installment for the Eleventh Doctor's second year of adventures - one that further developed the series' central mystery but also provided the first glimmer of actual answers. I'm extremely excited at the possibility of Williams and Spurrier tackling the Doctor / Master relationship, especially considering the wide variety of incarnations that are available for them to use. As much as I'd love to see a Roger Delgado Master appear, I am hoping for a bridge between the John Simm and Michelle Gomez incarnations – something that will probably never be seen in the TV series proper. There's a slight swagger of confidence about this “second season” of adventures as Williams and Spurrier build an enthralling untold story from the Time War. This is a series that needs to be on the pull list of every comic-reading Whovian as it expands upon one of the most intriguing gaps in the Doctor Who mythology with an attention to detail and continuity that rivals the TV show itself. This isn't an optional extra - this is essential reading for Whovians!

Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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 December 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 3

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 3
"Pull To Open"
Written by: Si Spurrier
Art by: Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

Setting adventures solely in the TARDIS has been a recurring theme for the Eleventh Doctor comic series, often resulting in some of the best and most imaginative stories in the run. Rob Williams did a great job at telling a story in reverse in the brilliant, “Space in Dimension Relative and Time” and Al Ewing did an interesting colour-themed story with the Eleventh Doctor and his companions stranded in different parts of the TARDIS for Issue 11’s “Four Dimensions”. Both stories pushed the boundaries of Doctor Who storytelling, making full use of the unique properties of a comic book page to tell fresh, exciting adventures. Here, the latest writer to join the Eleventh Doctor series, Si Spurrier turns his hand at his first TARDIS tale with another experimental adventure that could only be told in the comic-book format.

After the hectic pace of the first two issues of this storyline, Spurrier changes pace with a surprisingly introspective issue that sees the Doctor questioning himself with the help of some familiar faces. Putting the action to one side, Spurrier is able to examine the magnitude of the ‘war crimes’ that the Doctor has been accused of, whilst demonstrating the mental turmoil that this has on the Eleventh Doctor’s mental state. It’s interesting to see the Doctor questioning himself and what he is capable of – this theme carries over from Year One’s “Serve You Inc” arc, demonstrating consistency between the two volumes.

Aside from developing the Doctor, Spurrier also plays with the three companions – each of whom bring something different to the table. Alice serves as the clear head, assuming a reluctant leadership role and attempting to stay calm when the Doctor seemingly goes to pieces. The Squire, much like ARC before her, is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle and topped with a conundrum – clearly, she is tied to the central mystery of the Malignant and I can’t way to find out more about her. And then there’s Abslom Daak, who adds a delicious rebellious streak into proceedings with his boisterous personality and aggressive nature. There are plenty of great character moments throughout the issue and this trio of companions work wonderfully well together, complementing the Eleventh Doctor’s personality.

With this issue, Simon Fraser reminds me why he is one of my favourite artists with some terrific artwork, especially the full-page flashbacks. I’m not whether it was Spurrier or Fraser’s decision, but I absolutely loved the way the panel layout reflected the TARDIS’ front door, even including a white panel filled with text to mirror the instructions of the police box. Once again, it’s this type of artistic flourish that really sets the Eleventh Doctor comic series apart from the rest, with Williams, Ewing and Spurrier embracing the comic book format and all it can offer. I also enjoyed the brief glimpses of the Daleks in Fraser’s artwork – I’m not sure if there’s an official moratorium on showing the Daleks in the comic, but Fraser circumnavigates any such restrictions with brief splashes of eye-stalks, plungers and whisks, including a bizarre creature which might be some kind of “wheel-Dalek” that may be foreshadowing a future appearance.

Overall, this was another brilliant TARDIS-centric excursion, allowing fans to explore the infinite interior of the machine without any cost-prohibitive special effects needed. I really love how the writers of this series manage to make the TARDIS into a prominent character, mirroring Steven Moffat’s own direction during the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure. While the episode served many to re-evaluate previous events, it did so in splendid fashion – offering some very interesting glimpses into the past and potential future that add to the central story-arc at the heart of this year’s adventures. With a limitless budget, and some of the best artists in the business, there’s no shortage of imagination from Spurrier and Williams as they deliver another amazing storyline, fuelled by the fires of Doctor Who’s darkest days. Fans of the 50th anniversary episode, “The Day of the Doctor”, need to pick up this series!

Score - 9.8 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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, 7 October 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 1

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 1
"The Then and The Now" - Part 1 (of 2)
Written by: Si Spurrier & Rob Williams
Art by: Simon Fraser
Colours by: Gary Caldwell

With a degree of confidence that comes from a successful first year of comics, the Eleventh Doctor comic series returns with a more chaotic and continuity-focused story-arc that ties back to the War Doctor's era, picking up many plot threads revealed in “The Day of the Doctor”. Series stalwarts, Rob Williams and Simon Fraser are joined by a new co-writer in the form of Si Spurrier who, like Williams, has written for 2000AD and has a history in writing UK science-fiction that lends itself well to Doctor Who. Opening the absolutely gorgeous Alex Ronald cover and being greeted by Fraser's artwork felt like coming home after a long trip abroad. I've been a fan of his distinctive art style since his early Nikolai Dante days, and I really enjoy seeing his interpretation of the Doctor Who universe, especially his take on the War Doctor. Fraser's artwork really captures the war-weary look on the character's face and I would love to see him do the interiors on a War Doctor mini-series. Hopefully one of the editors over at Titan Comics has had that very same thought!

Williams and Spurrier throw us straight back into the action as they thrust the Doctor and Alice into danger numerous times over. Whereas the premiere issue of Year One was a slower-paced introductory affair, this issue relies on prior knowledge of the Doctor's world and recent continuity. Despite being set in-between Seasons 5 & 6, many of the plot points pertinent to this storyline are from the end of the Eleventh Doctor's era, notably “The Name of the Doctor” and “The Day of the Doctor”. As with the Ninth Doctor's comic mini-series which deals with elements of Time War continuity from later eras, it's really interesting to see these plot-points been raised and discussed before they were formally introduced to the fan-base. It certainly makes the retcon of the War Doctor incarnation seem more organic and ingrained into the mythos of the character to have him referred to chronologically ahead of his televised debut. Eagle-eyed fans will also have caught a glimpse of the First Doctor and Tom Baker's Curator character during the sequence where The Then and the Now fiddles with the time-stream – the implication being that those are the two book-end incarnations. I quite like the idea that Tom Baker's Curator is the final regeneration, presumably the last from the second cycle granted to him in “The Time of the Doctor”.

There's a lot going on in this issue, so I was surprised to see that it was only a two-parter storyline. Although, judging from the more free-form nature of the previous year's story-arc, there might be elements of this storyline – particularly the mystery revolving the War Doctor's “war crimes” - which may reappear in later issues. With the supporting cast from the previous year put to rest, it's interesting to see Williams and Spurrier quickly building up a new TARDIS crew with former (and forgotten) companion, The Squire, and the self-styled Dalek Killer, Abslom Daak. Fans of classic Doctor Who comics may remember the character, created by Steve Moore and Steve Dillon, from the old Doctor Who Weekly comic strips. It's a nice retro shout-out to long-term fans, but may not have the same impact on the “new Who” generation. Hopefully there will be a short introduction to the character in the next issue, especially since the Doctor already knows who he is, and his companions won't.

Overall, this was a really strong “re-debut” for Year Two of the Eleventh Doctor's adventures. The introduction of Si Spurrier to the writing team has certainly given the series a different flavour, with a more continuity-driven storyline that weaves together both Classic and Modern Doctor Who plot threads. While previous Eleventh Doctor comic storylines have felt fast-paced, this issue felt like it was travelling at 88 MPH (nice little Back to the Future reference, there!) with a dazzling array of plot developments in the space of one issue. This isn't decompressed storytelling by any stretch of the imagination – I guess that's one of the many benefits of hiring British writers with experience writing for 2000AD! As a new number one, it might not be as accessible to new readers as one would expect, but for big-time Doctor Who geeks like myself, this is some excellent comic writing. With the timey-wimey craziness of its first volume, the Eleventh Doctor series has never been afraid of mature and experimental storytelling, and I hope that this trend carries over into Year Two – and judging from this initial issue, it has.

Score - 9.6 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Eleventh 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!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Review - Doctor Who: The Four Doctors # 1 (of 5)

Doctor Who: The Four Doctors # 1 (of 5)
"The Four Doctors" - Part 1 (of 5)
Written by: Paul Cornell
Art by: Neil Edwards
Colours by: Ivan Nunes

Ever since Titan Comics announced that it had the Doctor Who licence and would be releasing an ongoing comic series for the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, part of me hoped that they would unite in a multi-Doctor cross-over across the three titles. With the limitless budget of the comic book page and no tricky cast negotiations to deal with, bringing together multiple Doctors in the comic book format seemed like a no-brainer, and it seems that someone in Titan Comics had the same idea. “The Four Doctors” is a five-issue mini-series event taking place throughout August and September that acts as a buffer between Year One and Year Two of the main ongoing Doctor Who titles. Rather than featuring just the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, this series also teased the return of the War Doctor, thus presenting the storyline as a pseudo-sequel to the amazing 50th anniversary episode, “The Day of the Doctor”.

The series is written by Paul Cornell, who has written key episodes of the Doctor Who television show, “Father's Day”, “Human Nature” and “Family of Blood”. As one would expect, Cornell possesses an intimate knowledge of the series' continuity and makes references to both the classic and modern eras of Doctor Who. Long-term fans will recognises the planet Marinus and the Voord, seen here in the War Doctor's prologue, as elements from the fifth ever Doctor Who serial, “The Keys of Marinus”. Given the foreboding nature of this encounter with the Voord, I suspect they may end up being the main villains of the piece – another race damaged by the effects of the Time War.

Cornell also makes references to his own episodes, as the cliff-hanger to this issue revolves around one of the villains introduced in the episode, “Father's Day”. I was very pleasantly surprised to see the return of these forgotten enemies, especially since they've been underused in the TV show itself, and logically it makes total sense that they would reappear in a multi-Doctor storyline where paradoxes are rife. With two nostalgic call-backs to earlier episodes, Cornell's script is a delight for fans of both the classic and modern eras.

When watching these multi-Doctor episodes, it was struck me that a degree of mental choreography was needed by the writers to keep track of what part of each Doctor's timeline they have come from and what memories they should have. To simplify things for the continuity minded, it's best to remember that only the most recent incarnation will remember these events in full – every other incarnation will have fuzzy memories. This loop-hole explains why the Tenth Doctor doesn't remember the Eleventh when they next meet in “The Day of the Doctor”. Chronologically, the Tenth Doctor's adventures with Gabby take place after “The Next Doctor” and before “The End of Time”, whereas the Eleventh Doctor's adventures are after “The Big Bang” and before “The Impossible Astronaut” which explains why he doesn't recognise Clara Oswald, as they've yet to meet. Even after this adventure he won't recall her as the Twelfth Doctor is the most recent incarnation. Cornell's script displays a full understanding of the complex continuity around these characters and doesn't make any mistakes or errors.

While I was taken with Cornell's skilled scripting of this issue, I have to also single out Neil Edward's amazing artwork. The level of quality on display across these pages is absolutely staggering and certainly justifies this series as an “event”. It really helps channel the cinematic feel of this storyline, much in the same way “The Day of the Doctor” felt like an special event compared to ordinary episodes. There's a slick and stylish look to Edwards' artwork, no doubt enhanced by Ivan Nunes' brilliant colouring – there's no weak link in the chain of panels that make up this first issue. The tricky element of characters based on real actors and actresses is achieving that balance of getting the likeness right without losing the artist's own individuality in the process. Edwards achieves this with all of the televised characters, capturing the essence of the characters rather than doing portraits of the actors. This mini-series will be a true thing of beauty when collected together in a graphic novel format, if Edwards continues to produce all five issues.

Overall, this is a strong opening issue to what promises to be a fantastic multi-Doctor adventure. I have to admit that the sequence in the Parisian cafe does feel a bit busy and cluttered, but I think that's supposed to be the point, given that all three Doctors (and their companions) had converged at one location. Hopefully, future issues will give the characters a bit more space to breathe and interact with each other in smaller groups – it would be cool to see different companions paired up with different Doctors. Gabby and Alice took a bit of a backseat here, compared to Clara, so hopefully they are given a bit more time to shine in future installments. I think this series will definitely benefit from its weekly release schedule as I'm eager to see what will happen next, and I think I can just about manage to wait another seven days.

Score - 9.7 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Four Doctors # 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!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...