Fourth Doctor #2 - Gaze of the Medusa (Part Two)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 20 June 2016 - Reviewed by Tom Buxton
DOCTOR WHO: FOURTH DOCTOR MINI-SERIES #2 (Credit: Titan)Writers: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Artist: Brian Williamson
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterers: Richard Starkings and Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Senior Comics Editor: Andrew James
Assistant Editors: Jessica Burton and Gabriela Houston
Designer: Rob Farmer
Released: April 20th 2016, Titan Comics

If the superb opening instalment of Titan Comics' five-part Fourth Doctor miniseries gave fans of Tom Baker's incarnation the impression that they might be in for something special, then Issue 2 confirms those suspicions wholeheartedly, embracing its predecessor's strengths whilst building upon them so as to further fulfill the "Gaze of the Medusa" storyline's vast potential.

Penned once again by Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby, this similarly accomplished sophomore instalment doesn't so much centre on Issue 1's fascinating final panel revelation - namely that Sarah Jane appears doomed to be converted into a lifeless statue by the supernatural forces plaguing the TARDIS crew at present - as put it to one side for now. Instead, its focus lies on how the mysterious Lady Emily Carstairs' temporal machinations have forced the ancient Greek and Victorian worlds to abruptly collide, placing Sarah at the heart of the exposition as she converses with Carstairs about her somewhat tragic past while the Doctor tags along with his newfound allies, Professor Odysseus James and Athena, in the hope of rescuing his companion before it's too late.

This somewhat familiar premise might sound like a recipe for mediocrity to those readers still on the fence about picking up Titan's latest Doctor Who strip, but for all Part Two treads water as opposed to making genuine progress towards this one-off serial's endgame, there's plenty of compelling material to keep Fourth Doctor devotees hooked regardless. No more do the strip's merits come to the fore, in fact, than with the scribes' decision to separate their lead players for the majority of the issue, since their depictions of both Baker and Lis Sladen's characters are accurate in their emphasis on how each of the two characters can more than hold their own in the face of seemingly unfavourable odds. Yes, Sarah might remain in Carstairs' clutches here, yet by no means does that make her a passive participant in proceedings - if anything, that she manages to quickly convince Carstairs of how invaluable both she and her waylaid Time Lord can be to their foe if she keeps them alive only goes to demonstrate her endearing charisma, while the Fourth Doctor's constant joke cracking clearly does just as much to earn him the faith of his latest comrades as they plunge headfirst into a wealth of new dangers.

What's more, despite them having only five issues in which to depict the Baker era's most beloved assets and convey a captivating standalone narrative, Beeby and Rennie also show an admirable commitment to rendering their secondary constructs as equally sympathetic individuals to 'watch' develop. Odyesseus, for instance, displays a rather charming passion for the unknown that prompts him to seem believably reckless at times, with his daughter's determination to rein in this enthusiastic fervour for his own safety feeling similarly akin to some of the more memorable parental relationships we've seen on the TV series in recent years - albeit with the parent usually worrying more about their offspring than the other way around. Carstairs' surprisingly heartfelt backstory, meanwhile, endeared her to this reviewer far more than he might ever have expected upon picking up Issue 2, a trait which could bode extremely well for her memorability as a regretful antagonist of sorts in future issues should the capable writing team capitalize on her appeal between now and the "Medusa" arc's conclusion. Nothing's guaranteed, of course, but at the rate Beeby and Rennie are developing their impressive level of layered characterisation from issue to issue, chances are this five-part saga's primary and secondary constructs alike will linger in the memory of the strip's followers long after they've read its final panel.

Speaking of the panels themselves, thanks to Brian Williamson's phenomenal Gothic artwork, they're just as much a thing of beauty as the "Medusa" storyline itself. Whether he's depicting a simple, carraigebound exchange between the Doctor and his Victorian partners-in-crime with photorealistic facial imagery - not to mention authentically chilling mists surrounding the carriage - or the temporally unique, supernatural glare of the lamp of Chronos as it illuminates the room in which Sarah's busy untangling Carstairs' intentions or indeed the horrifyingly morbid cliffhanger moment which will all but guarantee that readers can't help but return for Issue 3 to discover what's next for the character, Williamson doesn't falter on any front whatsoever. Indeed, it's a wonder that he's not called upon more often to accompany the scripts for the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh or Twelfth Doctors' regular strips, since judging by the work he's produced in the space of two Fourth Doctor-centric issues alone, the man's got just as much to offer Titan Comics' ever-expanding franchise of Doctor Who comics as any other artist who's contributed to the various ranges to date.

Alternatively, though, Titan could take an even more obvious route once Issue 5 brings the "Medusa" arc to its end, commissioning a regular Fourth Doctor strip off the back of this miniature arc just as they did after their five-part Ninth Doctor miniseries, "Weapons of Past Destruction", met with such critical and commercial acclaim upon its debut on the comic-book scene last year. Certainly, based on the immeasurable strength of both Issue 1 and its immediate follow-up, there's no substantial reason to think why a fully-fledged continuation courtesy of Rennie, Beeby and Williamson couldn't continue to develop the pitch-perfect adapted rapport of the Fourth Doctor and Sarah, their era's much-loved supernatural array of adversaries as well as the supporting characters tasked with helping or hindering the pair in their adventures for many issues to come. Perhaps the Fourth Doctor will one day return to the TV series in the form of the Curator as introduced to us in 2013's televised 50th Anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor, but in the meantime, the character's printed incarnation evidently has plenty of life in him yet.

Eleventh Doctor Year 2: # 6 - The One (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 19 June 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek












The Doctor, Alice, The Squire and their 'ally of convenience' Daak have finally located the ultra-confident, ultra-capable Professor River Song, after more than a few parsecs travelled across the universe. A reunion for this version of the Doctor and River is somewhat overshadowed by the continued threat offered by 'The Then And The Now' being. But perhaps some solutions can be found at last to this rather unwelcome scenario the TARDIS crew have been immersed in. And this could see the Doctor clear his name at last, long after the actions of a former incarnation that he rarely mentions to even the closest people in his life.


Reaching the halfway-point of Year Two, I continue to be impressed by the direction this timey-wimey, French-loaf-twisted arc runs along. There is lots of vigour and derring-do and all the regular characters are sufficiently engaging to make the spectacle resonate to full effect.

River Song once again is used to good effect alongside the Eleventh Doctor, and how nice to have her grace more than a few comic strip panels and play a full part in proceedings. As enjoyable as it was to see her appear frequently in the bonus strip, it is considerably more involving when we are reminded of the complex non-chronological timeline that she and the Doctor are forced to share together.

Abslom Daak continues to add colourful unpredictability to the storyline; his wildcard status is neatly complementary to the stalwart Squire and the thoroughly down to earth Alice. The Doctor clearly enjoys having to juggle many things all at once, and be pushed to his limits, but is clearly in a comfort zone whenever his beloved River is in close proximity.

There have been plenty of references to the Master, at this point, and with a bit of luck we will get to see him reappear. Being that this is pre-Capaldi-era, the expectation is that we get the traditional male version. (Although having Missy somehow appear would be truly special, the question would then arise how the Twelfth Doctor does not recognise her).


Year One for the Eleventh Doctor had plenty to it, and required readers pay attention and remember various pertinent details. This second year is more of the same, but 'dialled-up', and writer Rob Williams has showed just how many tricks he has up his sleeves. It lives up to the clever nature of the Matt Smith TV outings, and especially the carefully pre-planned 'Series 6a and 6b'; (within were never my favourite stories, but unquestionably ones that showed Doctor Who could yet again re-invent itself to compelling effect).

Artwork continues to convince and thrill in equal measure. Simon Fraser confidently portrays the frenetic travels through both physical space and the (often chaotic) dimensions of time. 'The Then And The Now' is a great idea, and continues to be used well. It is hard to imagine this remorseless foe being any better in televisual or audio format. The colour work for these stories is also more than acceptable, although some of the finishes for the Eighth and Ninth Doctor Mini-Series of recent times were just a touch stronger at leaving a lasting impression

This now well-established monthly series from Titan, dedicated to the bow-tie-wearing variant of the Doctor, continues to surprise and delight. It also remains faithful to both its source telly-box origins, and to the visually infinite universe of comics.




HUMOUR STRIP - LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR - (Art and Visuals by Marc Ellerby)

A solid comedic display again from Ellerby, who has his own unique brand of depicting the familiar 'TARDIS family', as well as supporting or one-shot characters. The tenuous nature of neighbourly relations gets to be the main focus in this mini-story, and should evoke familiar emotions for the vast majority of readers. This material would arguably look at home in a regular daily newspaper, and its reach never exceeds its grasp. 


Two alternate covers feature amongst the final pages. One is a photo-style image of the Doctor reacting to a figure that casts a curly haired silhouette on the TARDIS, in the backdrop. The other is a quirky collection of images, which charmingly conveys an abundance of joy and humour.

Tenth Doctor Year 2 #2.3 - Cindy, Cleo, and The Magic SketchbookBookmark and Share

Thursday, 16 June 2016 - Reviewed by Dan Collins
DOCTOR WHO: TENTH DOCTOR #2.3 (Credit: Titan)
Writer:Nick Abadzis
Artists: Elena Casagrande and Arianna Florean
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft'sJimmy Betancourt
On Sale: December 2, 2015

In the previous two issues we saw Gabby and the Doctor out and about, once more gallivanting around the universe after stopping the destruction of Earth. While they are away, Cindy settles down to read the diary that her best friend gave her. She is hoping to finally learn the truth about this mysterious Doctor.

If I had to use just one word to describe this comic, I would probably go for… Bold. Why? Well let’s start with the overall story itself. This is a Doctor-lite issue. You know what I’m talking about, like those episodes where the actor playing the Doctor is on vacation and so they write a whole story that barely features the character. It has been done well with phenomenal stories like Blink. Sometimes though, they come up short, Love and Monsters being the most notorious example, though I personally enjoyed it.  Here we are just three issues into this “second season” of Doctor Who comics from Titan, and they are already taking a risk by excluding the two main characters from this story.  Both the Doctor and his companion Gabby are physically absent for the entire issue. We the reader are ultimately being guided by two of the more unlikable characters from previous story arcs, Cindy and Cleo. This could have been a disaster, maybe even should have been a disaster, but it wasn’t.  Mostly because Cleo has finally shed some of that hard exterior and revealed that she’s more than the thug who knocked the Doctor around during their last encounter. Cindy had a bit of a turn around too, though I feel like that has a lot to do with the second bold decision in this issue, the choice of storytelling device.

Here we are in a Doctor-Lite episode and the first page shows Cindy sitting on a NY park bench holding her best friend’s diary. She opens up the book and we are transported into the diary. We aren’t watching Cindy reading, but rather seeing with our eyes what she is seeing.  The pages are no longer comic book pages with panels, speech bubbles and captions, but instead paragraphs of text off to the side with quick sketches in the middle. Even the colour of the pages changes during this portion of the story.  And it works well! We get a mini “origin story” that tells us a little tale about how Cindy and Gabby bonded over a scary situation when they were just children. She then uses that feeling of terror and excitement to describe life with the Doctor. These diary pages also work really well as a catch up. If new readers came on board when “season 2” started, they might not know all about the Doctor. Here, through Cindy’s eyes, the audience are reintroduced to him, given a quick primer on just what sort of man the Doctor is and the stage is set for his reappearance most likely in the next issue.

There is a lot more to this particular story than just seeing what Cindy is reading. The book itself becomes the plot. There is something off with the diary. The pages are changing, almost alive. They start warning her how dangerous it would be if it fell into the wrong hands. Those hands belong to Mister Ebonite, the owner of the black market auction house. Dressed all in black, with his elongated and pinched face, he is giving off weird vibes long before he pulls out a flying skull and sends it after Gabby and Cleo. With weird mystical or magical powers that will undoubtedly actually be alien tech in origin, he gets the upper hand. When things are looking really bad for our rag tag misfits a familiar face makes an appearance. Even though this issue has been out for quite a while, I won’t spoil it for anyone who is planning to eventually get around to reading it. All I will say is that it was a pleasant surprise!


Over all I really enjoyed this issue. The diary portion was great. The little cartoons that accompanied the text were cute and perfect. I missed a bunch of the early issues in this series and so I benefited from the recap as much as any other reader would have. Both Cindy and Cleo get some great character development that makes them more likeable and relatable. Even if they hadn’t started endearing themselves to me, the twist at the end of the issue was more than enough to keep me coming back next month.


Bonus Strip: A Rose By Any Other Name By Rachael Smith


Rose-The-Cat wonders why the Doctor isn’t using his moping chair anymore, only to discover that he’s found all the companionship he needs inside a videogame.

The Peterloo Massacre (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 16 June 2016 - Reviewed by Richard Brinck-Johnsen
The Peterloo Massacre (Credit: Big Finish)

Written by Paul Magrs
Directed by Jamie Anderson

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Hayley Jayne Standing (Cathy), Robbie Stevens (Hurley), Gerard Kearns (William), Philip Labey (Thomas Tyler), Wayne Forester (Walton/Roberts/Rev Small), Liz Morgan (Mrs Hurley/Sister)

Big Finish Productions – Released March 2016

Every once in a while, Big Finish release a play which stands out from their large catalogue of Doctor Who releases as being something rather special. The Peterloo Massacre, based on one of the darkest episodes of early nineteenth century British history, is the most recent example of such a play. Paul Magrs, who is better known for slightly less serious offerings to The Worlds of Doctor Who, has produced a script which brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the tragic events of 16th August 1819. The massacre itself, a mass demonstration for reform by more than 60,000 people in St Peter’s Square, Manchester which was attacked by local militia, resulting in 15 fatalities and 654 casualties, is not a subject which would automatically lend itself to a Doctor Who story. However, sometimes it is worth remembering that events like the Peterloo Massacre actually happened and that real people were caught up in them.

By concentrating on a small number of fictionalised characters caught up in the massacre, Magrs is able to do what a pure historical story does best and concentrate on the human aspect. At the centre of this story is Nyssa’s relationship with Cathy, a maid who wants to speak up for workers’ rights only to find herself directly affected by the tragedy. Sarah Sutton is able to give Nyssa genuine compassion which particularly shines through in her scenes alongside Hayley Jayne Standing as Cathy, particularly when the human cost of the massacre becomes horrifically apparent. Peter Davison, meanwhile, gives one of his strongest performances to date as the Doctor realises far too late that he and his companions have arrived in Manchester on the eve of one of the darkest days in the city’s history. His growing anger as he seeks to protect his companions from the inevitability of the unfolding events is truly something to behold. This story really showcases the Fifth Doctor’s full performance range. Even Janet Fielding’s Tegan manages to be less abrasive than usual even when experiencing nineteenth century inequality towards women at first hand.

The only slight incongruity is that Nigel Fairs’ music score is occasionally a little intrusive but this really is a minor quibble in a story which otherwise delivers for its listeners in spades. Undoubtedly, The Peterloo Massacre will be considered as one of the best audio releases of recent times and is certainly the highlight of the opening trilogy of plays for 2016. Echoing my concluding comment on February’s Aquitaine, we can hopefully look forward to many more stories featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan. This reviewer is delighted by the confirmation at the time of writing that these three will be returning for next year’s opening trilogy of main range releases alongside Matthew Waterhouse as Adric. On the strength of these plays, roll on 2017!

The Fourth Doctor - Series 5.3/4: The Paradox Planet / Legacy of Death (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 11 June 2016 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Paradox Planet (Credit: Big Finish)

Legacy Of Death (Credit: Big Finish)
Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana),
John Leeson (K9) Simon Rouse (Drang),
Tom Chadbon (Embery), Paul Panting (Fyrax),
Emma Campbell-Jones (Shola), Laura Rees (Tyrus),
Bryan Pilkington (Lostar), Jane Slavin (Medea).
Other parts portrayed by the cast.

Released by Big Finish Apr/May 2016
Buy from Amazon UK (The Paradox Planet/Legacy Of Death)

The Paradox Planet opens with a lovely scene, in the TARDIS with the Doctor, Romana and K9. The Doctor has decided that it is time that he learns to play the violin (very badly) - his two companions are both trying desperately to convince him that he will never master it. It is the style of story opening that I remember this original era for. The comic timing of the three leads are truly excellent. I found myself chuckling during my listen on the walk to to work.

As the story quickly moves on, due to a collision in the time vortex, the Doctor and Romana are separated in time by one thousand years, and find themselves at either end of a battle that is being raged by the same race, on the same planet - but in two very different time zones. The Paradox Planet of the title is Aoris. With foreknowledge of extinction, the future faction are taking endangered species from the past, back with them to the future. The faction in the past are desperate to stop this, even if it might mean wiping out their own race in the future.

The story continues in Legacy Of Death, which finds both factions able to time travel. The Doctor volunteers to travel back to the past as a peace envoy, in the hope of saving the people of Aoris from wiping each other out, but finds himself caught up in the paradox himself.

The two episodes are, as usual in this series of audios, both split into two parts - meaning that we have four twenty-five minute(ish) episodes, which is a treat in itself. Each cliffhanger is expertly written, if sometimes craftily resolved - but this doesn't detract from a very action packed and well written story that is pure science fiction. The paradoxes are all very well planned, and all pay off. John Leeson gets a lot of K9 time in both stories, in fact at times there are two K9s, along with two versions of the TARDIS. One of my favourite of the 'classic' stories is Logopolis, and there are some similarities here. I also noticed that other episodes had some great nods. The biggest being one of the resolutions to a cliffhanger, which is very reminiscent of The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. Another episode that I felt heavily reminded of is The Face Of Evil.

The most fun to be had here are with the Doctor, Romana and K9 in the future Aoris, where they are essentially heralded as brave heroes, which when you find out as to why is very amusing indeed. 

The character of Machina is also a great reveal, which I didn't notice until I read them, but the credits to the story published by Big Finish give the identity of the character away (I have removed the offending credit here). If you can avoid reading the credits before listening, please try. Machina is essentially what seems to be a giant, old fashioned computer who is revered in the future. Romana's line upon stepping inside the giant computer is genius as she is disappointed that it is just a metal box with flashing lights on the outside for show.

Ultimately, both stories are tales of how a race can abuse a planet and it's resources without a thought for future generations. Yes it all gets a bit mind boggling, but at no point was I lost to any plot contrivances.

The cast are all excellent. Notables are Tom Chadbon as Emberry (Tom played Duggan from the classic City Of Death, he also featured in the 'not so classic' The Mysterious Planet). There is also Simon Rouse, who was originally in Kinda, here playing Drang.

Ultimately The Paradox Planet and Legacy of Death are both fun filled, intelligently written stories, which showcases Tom Baker in his absolute element. It is quite obvious that Lalla Ward and John Leeson also had great fun. These are a must for any fan of that classic era.


Associated Products

Doctor Who Adventures 226

Doctor Who Adventures 226

Shakedown - A 'New Adventures' Story (Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 7 June 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Shakedown (Credit: BBC Audio)
An Audio Reading Of 'The New Doctor Who Adventures' Novel

Written by Terrance Dicks

Read By Dan Starkey

Released By BBC AUDIO: 5th May 2016

The Doctor, alongside his youthful companions Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester, is tracking a Rutan spy which remorselessly continues a destructive rampage at the cost of various innocent lives. The justification? The securing of a decisive advantage for the Rutan race, in their aeons-old war against the squat and belligerent Sontaran clone warrior forces.

The pursuit of this lethal being - that can mimic the appearance of its dead victims in order to confuse any adversaries - leads the Doctor to separate from his friends and find himself on Space Station Alpha. There, the elegantly designed Tiger Moth racing yacht will soon begin its very first journey across the stars. Chris and Roz have their own agenda to pursue within the bustling Megacity, capital of a mining planet, and a hotbed of corruption, criminal activities, and Wolverine ferocities.

In the meantime, the Doctor's third associate in his time and space travels - Bernice Summerfield - is trapped on the library planet Sentarion where religious zealots have promised to slay her, if she leaves the sacred temple.

After both the Rutan spy and a squad of Sontarans face off on Captain Lisa Deranne's Tiger Moth, the chase finally comes to a climax on Sentarion. Can the Doctor's wits and wisdom be enough to save the cosmos from either one of these cruel and destructive species?


Shakedown is a curious entity in the Doctor Who universe. Originally it was mainly focused on uniting Doctor Who and Blake's 7 acting alumni, namely Carole Ann Ford, Sophie Aldred and Michael Wisher, as well as Jan Chappell and Brian Croucher. Legal rights at the time meant that only the Sontarans and a Rutan could be brought back from the Doctor Who canon, and the Doctor himself could only be vaguely referenced in dialogue.

Produced as a fast paced straight to video extravaganza, it was directed by the diligent and innovative Kevin Davies, and written by the ever-trustworthy Terrance Dicks. The original VHS video was only on release at specialist shops or on mail order in 1994, before later being reissued with a 'Making Of' documentary, and made available in mainstream shops. There has been no official DVD release yet sadly, and perhaps this may never be the case. Regardless, it is still worth tracking down should one have access to VHS player (that still manages to function!).

The story was considered to be worthy enough for a fuller novelisation/New Adventures combination in late 1995. That book was designed so that the film's events formed the central 'book' of three, and thus both an original prequel and sequel 'book' gave substance to the initial brisk storyline. Dicks returned to carry out the necessary expansions, and thus produced one of the more immediately enjoyable and readable entries in the book line, then-licensed to Virgin.  Whilst the New Adventures could be thrilling reads, they also frequently strayed into territory that was unwelcome to those of the youngest ages, and also could be rather verbose and more 'hard-sci-fi' than most TV stories, To my mind, Doctor Who is meant to be enjoyed by all ages. Whilst these books undeniably helped with the TV show returning in the 'Noughties', they perhaps should be regarded as interesting but optional, in terms of the general 21st Century fan's reading list.

More positively, this story was in a period where the (literary) Sylvester McCoy incarnation of our title hero was blessed with a TARDIS crew that included the lovably unique Bernice Summerfield, and the  duo of Roz and Chris - 30th century specialist police investigators. This clutch of companions was difficult to write badly, and Dicks masterfully adds to their story arcs. He also, in typical fashion, allows first-timers the luxury of being able to know sufficiently detail on who these characters are, where they come from, and what makes them tick.

The plot here is easy to follow, without being simplistic, and manages to get round the issues of the Shakedown film having a fairly conclusive ending. It avoids doing so by mere contrivance, and instead cleverly adds to the mythology of how the Sontarans and Rutans are able to survive, and pursue their agendas, through ingenious and deceitful means. The Seventh Doctor is very well done by Dicks here, and perhaps this should be no surprise given how the prolific script editor and story writer had contributed one of the earliest gems in the book line - 'Timewyrm: Exodus' - set during an alternative timeline where the Nazis won the Second World War.

As for this actual BBC Audio release, which is now just the latest of a rapidly growing collection, I can assure readers that the eight hours running time provides much to enjoy and admire. I was quite delighted to learn that Dan Starkey returns as the main contributor, and he effortlessly makes the most of Terrance Dicks' fluent prose. The narration of the various expository, descriptive and action-oriented prose never falters for a single minute. Starkey continues to excel in showcasing his voice acting range, and provides enough distinct character voices to help make this feel like an audio play, and not just a simple reading.

At 7 CDs this is a considerable investment in listener commitment. Yet, I can assert that 'tempus fugit' really does apply here. The intensity and intrigue of the plot and action dovetails, as chapter follows chapter.

So whether you are somebody old enough for this story to provide nostalgia, or a newcomer keen to know more about the many adventures of the Seventh Doctor outside his limited TV lifespan, this is a fine bit of diversion. 2016 really has begun to heat up, and the long-awaited Class spin off will soon be onscreen, and declaring its own spin-off credentials...