A Cold Day in Hell (Panini Graphic Novel)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 30 December 2017 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
A Cold Day In Hell (Credit: Panini)
Written by Simon Furman, Mike Collins, Grant Morrison, John Freeman, Dan Abnett, Richard Alan, John Carnell, Alan Grant

Artwork by John Ridgeway, Kev Hopgood, Tim Perkins, Geoff Senior, Dave Hine, Bryan Hitch, John Higgins, Lee Sullivan, Dougie Braithwaite, Dave Elliott, Andy Lanning, Martin Griffiths, Cam Smith

Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Panini UK LTD

The first Seventh Doctor Volume, A Cold Day in Hell is, like all of Panini's Who collections, wonderfully put together and restored, but much of the stories in this volume didn't totally work for me. The first story tries to wrap up the Sixth Doctor comic era by having a finale adventure for companion "Frobisher," but just continuity wise it just feels out of place with the Seventh Doctor...too many references to "since Peri left" which just doesn't fit where the Seventh Doctor was from the moment he took over the part on TV. 

They should've just started fresh...time has passed, there is a new Doctor, and if you are going to say goodbye to Frobisher anyhow, why shoehorn him into the start of a new Doctor's run? It is an especially odd choice as Frobisher's exit lacks any real emotional impact.  If they wanted to say goodbye to the character, maybe they should have worked that into the end of "The World Shapers" which closed out the Sixth Doctor's run. Seems an odd choice, but this book is full of that. 

It seems at the time Marvel (who was still distributing Doctor who Magazine at the time) was desperate to drag Doctor Who into their big sweeping and ridiculous canon.  They used the Doctor Who strip as a weird in between for a character called "Death's Head," who appeared in some other comic and is shrunk down by the Doctor as an excuse to move him onto his own title by Marvel UK.  They also brought in two awful characters from another title called The Sleaze Brothers for a story so inept and awful. Admittedly, I am almost always anti-Crossover, but Doctor Who really does need to just live in it's own vast and strange universe. The stories that Marvel forced are also just plain bad.

The book also has so many artists, you'd think at least a few would manage to demonstrate an ability to capture Sylvester McCoy's likeness.  But very few actually did, which is odd.  The actor has, in my view, a fairly distinctive face, you'd think artists would find his features easy to capture or even caricature after the more non-descript faces of Peter Davison and Colin Baker.  But for most of this collection you only know it is the Doctor because he's the guy wearing the hat. 

It isn't all bad, "Claws of the Klathi!" is a decent atmospheric tale with good art and a better than the usual capturing of the Seventh Doctor's look.  I rather liked "Keepsake" and "Echoes of the Mogor!" and I did like the running gag in which the Doctor is always landing and immediately realizing he has not yet found his friend's birthday party, which he is apparently on his way towards. 

I think the biggest issue is that collected in this volume is a total hodge podge of writers, artists, and stories.  There is no clear voice (as Steve Parkhouse was throughout all of the Fifth Doctor's run and the early days of the Sixth Doctor), and no clear visual style (as the Sixth Doctor's entire run had in John Ridgeway).  That lack of any artistic vision, along with a company bullying them into working in their own characters that don't really fit...and what you get is a bunch of one offs and only a few stories that actually dig in for more than one issue.  Ultimately this is a collection for Collectors and Completists only, otherwise, I think it is rather easy to skip.