The Eleventh Doctor Year 2 #7 - The One (Part Two)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 2 August 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
DOCTOR WHO: ELEVENTH DOCTOR #2.7 (Credit: Titan Comics)















"THE ONE - PART 2 OF 2"

WRITER - 
ROB WILLIAMS
ARTISTS - LEANDRO CASCO + SIMON FRASER

COLORIST - GARY CALDWELL

(ABSLOM DAAK CREATED BY STEVE MOORE AND STEVE DILLON,  AND  APPEARS COURTESY OF PANINI COMICS, 
WITH THANKS TO DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE)
 

LETTERER - RICHARD STARKINGS +
COMICRAFT’S JIMMY BETANCOURT

ASSISTANT EDITORS - JESSICA BURTON
+ GABRIELA HOUSTON

EDITOR - ANDREW JAMES

DESIGNER - ROB FARMER

MAIN COVER: BRIAN MILLER

RELEASED MARCH 23RD 2016, TITAN COMICS

"The Time Lords ensured that the mere knowledge of this place was removed from all living things. For the safety of all that was good. But I came here. Once. I think… it… it’s difficult to recall. there was a book…something… … something to do with Cambridge? I forget". The Doctor addressing his travelling companions.

 

*

"Shada.. Shadaaa" - those were the words uttered by a bonkers-brilliant Tom Baker during the early 1990s, as he introduced his narration of the missing Season 17 Douglas Adams epic. Originally released on VHS, and currently available on DVD in 'The Legacy Collection', the reconstructed Shada saw Baker pull off a unique mix of himself and an alternate Fourth Doctor, narrating the missing material, (which comprised more than half of the projected run time for six 25 minute episodes).

For many years I have had a soft spot for that outlandish story which could well have fallen flat on its face through sheer over-ambition if actually produced and transmitted. At its core, it was a good example of how Doctor Who so typically manages to avoid being generic and sterile (unlike a good number of other sci-fi franchises).

The rather loose position in canon of Shada allows for the many brilliant concepts of Adams to be used by any budding writer as they see fit, and Rob Williams has met his usual high standard with this latest stopover in the ongoing galaxy hopping arc. By this point readers will have seen a rather unusually stressed Eleventh Doctor forced to try and clear his name of the unspeakable crime committed against the Cylors.

 

It is quite appropriate to have the Doctor's nemesis - The Master - linked to this fascinating prison locale, where the Doctor's fellow Time Lords opted to safely lock away potential universal despots for millennia. Although the glimpses of the Roger Delgado incarnation are fleeting - and the villain does not directly interact with our protagonists - it still is richly satisfying to have the original (and arguably the best) Master of them all gracing a well-established comic from the team at Titan.

 

This issue makes effective use of the (by now familiar) River/Eleventh Doctor dynamic. It has little pause to catch its breath, but never feels rushed or mindless during any passage. Also, the overall arc continues to move well. It is welcome to have a group of do-gooders, with Daak as the quintessential wildcard anti-hero, who are of such different ages backgrounds and personalities. The mystery of the Squire persists, being explored here in the most in-depth and tantalising fashion yet since the character first became a regular player.

The cliffhanger is a fine bit of confirming readers' darkest fears over just low the War Doctor was prepared to sink. There is also a clever contrast of the 'hidden Doctor' with the fundamentally immoral Master who, for all his defects, at least some fixed 'code of honour' or 'sanity'.

Writing continues to be of the highest quality, and the artwork is at worst quite good, and at best excellent. Two artists get to flex their creative-flair-muscles, with a cleverly done transition mid-issue as the Doctor's party are subjugated to 'hibernation'.

The wait for each subsequent issue in Year 2 has now become harder to bear, and is the sign of a team of creatives who are very much on their game.

 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:

No humour strip is present for this month's edition, but a pair of photo and art bonus covers do feature. The latter of those includes a tantalising promise of Daak visionary Steve Dillon entering the fray late on in Year 2(!).

There also is a collection of smaller sized preview/alternate covers for Issue 8.





Supremacy of the Cybermen #1 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 11 July 2016 - Reviewed by Thomas Buxton
Titan Comics: Supremacy of the Cybermen #1 (Cover A) (Credit: Titan Comics)
Writers: George Mann & Cavan Scott
Artists: Alessandro Vitti & Ivan Rodriguez With Tazio Bettin
Colorist: Nicola Righi With Enrica Eren Angiolini
Letterer: Richard Starkins And Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Senior Editor: Andrew James
Assistant Editors: Jessica Burton & Amoona Saohin
Designer: Rob Farmer
Released by Titan Comics - July 6th, 2016

“You know why I’m here, Ohila. Something is very wrong with time.”

There’s a whiff of The Pandorica Opens and A Good Man Goes to War’s bold, universe-spanning opening sequences about the first issue of Titan Comics’ new multi-Doctor crossover, Supremacy of the Cybermen, and that’s no bad thing. Not unlike last year’s Four Doctors Summer event, scribes George Mann – of Engines of War fame, if the name sounded familiar – and Cavan Scott don’t waste time establishing Supremacy’s similarly ambitious premise; quite to the contrary, within moments of proceedings getting underway, we’re brought swiftly up to speed with the present situations of the quartet of renegade Time Lords headlining this year’s team-up as the Ninth Doctor races to save a damsel in distress from the Powell Estate in 2006; the Tenth journeys with Gabby and Cindy to “the greatest shopping mall in the galaxy” in the 24th Century; the Eleventh and Alice pick up supplies for the Paternoster Gang in prehistoric times; and the Twelfth travels solo to the ever-increasingly popular planet of Karn so as to investigate the aforementioned universal crisis.

One might have forgiven this instantly audacious mini-series’ writing team for buckling under the weight of their own ambitions, particularly when they’ve crammed the various companions of each of those incarnations – as well as a fair few returning villains beyond the titular Mondasian cyborgs – into what would have already been a dense 25-page opening outing without them. Yet anyone who’s been following Titan’s array of regular Doctor Who strips since their debut in the autumn of 2014 will know all too well how competently their assigned strip-wrights tend to handle their serials and indeed, Mann and Scott don’t look set to represent the exceptions to the rule, somehow managing to balance these elements with unmistakable ease, ensuring each sequence has enough time to breathe wholeheartedly and that the reader will thus maintain a coherent sense of what’s occurring in each time-zone rather than longing for the next scene shift to occur in order to relieve their confusion. Just thinking of how critically acclaimed big-screen ensemble pieces like the Avengers or Mission Impossible franchises handle their hefty cast rosters will provide readers with a fair idea of what to expect going into this one, which says plenty for the safe hands in which Titan appear to have placed perhaps their riskiest Who-themed venture to date.

As if this supreme balancing act on Mann and Scott’s parts wasn’t enough of a substantial selling point to warrant a purchase, Supremacy Issue 1 simultaneously alleviates any concerns of lacking the canonical heft of a fully televised Who serial – especially in the absence of the TV show from our screens until December 25th – from the outset. In a welcomingly surprise turn of events, we essentially pick up the storyline of Capaldi’s Doctor straight from where we left off in last Christmas’ The Husbands of River Song as he encounters a face from his recent past, one who could very well hold the key to how the Cybermen have gained such an unparalleled foothold across time and space by the time that his former selves encounter their old adversaries here. Precisely how accurately this mysterious – yet familiar – benefactor is characterised in comparison to his televised self will doubtless define how successful his return in printed form proves with fans, but one would need to have missed the entirety of 2015’s Season Nine to miscomprehend the myriad tantalising implications this antagonist’s presence here will have for future issues so long as he’s portrayed with all of the necessary malice, self-perceived omnipotence and pompousness that many loved him for on TV last year.

Speaking of characterisation, whilst the understandably limited number of panels afforded to each Doctor in comparison to their solo efforts means the jury’s out on how effectively they’ll once again be brought to life here, Mann and Scott have evidently gotten the tropes of the four incarnations involved down to a tee, depicting a Twelfth Doctor whose brash exterior frequently fades to reveal an endearing sense of adventurous bravado, an Eleventh who never misses an opportunity to crack jokes even – or especially – in the face of potentially fatal dangers, a Tenth who willingly misleads his companions, Hartnell-style, in order to seek out intriguing mysteries as well as a gung-ho Ninth who’ll gladly dive into the action alongside Rose and Captain Jack regardless of the costs. Four issues stand between us and knowing for certain whether the scribes at hand will find enough time to offer any of these incarnations, their allies or their foes much in the way of satisfying character progression, but for now, at least we’re left into no doubt as to their understanding of how to provide a clear impression that we’re witnessing a continuation of the TV show rather than a ‘fan fiction’-style take on its leading constructs.

Any gripes? Well, by choosing to zip from planet to planet, timeline to timeline and TARDIS crew to TARDIS crew across their opening 25-page epic, writers George Mann and Cavan Scott don’t leave themselves a lot of time for character development so much as plentiful – albeit necessary – exposition, and despite their admirable efforts to clearly distinguish the dark, sombre hues of Karn and a ruined London with the far more eclectic, whimsical vistas of the Cosmomart and prehistoric Earth, Supremacy’s resident artists Alessandro Vitti, Ivan Rodriguez and Tazio Bettin would benefit from dedicating further time to reassessing their character designs, since some might mistake Jackie Tyler for Rose on occasion given the lack of effort afforded to individualising the pair beyond adding a few lines to the former’s face. On the whole, however, their artwork’s more than on a par with the finest produced in the various Titan ranges so far in terms of unpredictability and visual sumptuousness, with its failings constituting mere nit-picking elements at best.

If it wasn’t already obvious, then, the reasons to miss out on Supremacy of the Cybermen’s stellar initial chapter are so far and few between that they might as well be non-existent, particularly when juxtaposed with the countless reasons to cast aside any doubts and simply plunge straight in. Indeed, provided that the splendid fellows at Titan can keep up the excellent work undertaken here throughout this five-part multi-Doctor crossover, there’s every chance they’ll have a sure-fire critical and commercial hit like no other on their hands.





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

Sunday, 19 June 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
DOCTOR WHO THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR YEAR TWO #6  (Credit: Titan)

"THE ONE - PART 1 OF 2"

WRITER -
ROB WILLIAMS

ARTIST - SIMON FRASER

COLORIST - GARY CALDWELL

(ABSLOM DAAK CREATED BY
STEVE MOORE AND STEVE DILLON,
+ APPEARS COURTESY OF PANINI COMICS, 
WITH THANKS TO DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE)

LETTERER - RICHARD STARKINGS AND
COMICRAFT’S JIMMY BETANCOURT

ASSISTANT EDITORS - JESSICA BURTON
+ GABRIELA HOUSTON

EDITOR - ANDREW JAMES

DESIGNER - ROB FARMER

MAIN COVER BY ALEX RONALD

RELEASED MARCH 2ND 2016, TITAN COMICS

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.

 

BONUSES

 

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.





Eleventh Doctor Year 2: # 5 - The Judas GoateeBookmark and Share

Sunday, 10 April 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR #2.5 (Credit: Titan)

WRITER - ROB WILLIAMS

ARTIST - WARREN PLEECE

COLORIST - HI-FI
 
LE
TTERING - RICHARD STARKINGS AND
COMICRAFT’S JIMMY BETANCOURT

(ABSLOM DAAK CREATED BY
STEVE MOORE AND STEVE DILLON)

EDITOR - ANDREW JAMES

ASSISTANT EDITORS - GABRIELA HOUSTON
AND JESSICA BURTON

DESIGNER - ROB FARMER

MAIN COVER BY JOSH CASSARA
BONUS COVER BY WILL BROOKS

PUBLISHED JANUARY 27TH 2016. TITAN COMICS
 

Having had strong indications that his life-long nemesis the Master has framed him for evil deeds during the Time War, the Doctor resolves to explore another obscure planet yet again, in order to obtain hard-and-fast evidence.

Before long, the danger of hordes of militaristic Sontarans having a brutal civil war rears its head. A breakaway group have decided to grow beards that pay tribute to one of the most notorious renegades the Time Lord race ever produced. The Doctor persists in staying just a little longer, much to the chagrin of his fellow travellers.

Yet eventually even the twin-hearted 'madman in a box' realises the need for escaping this colourful world: the main faction of Sontaran are prepared to sacrifice themselves with a bomb that would destroy the 'stray' cohort, all indigenous life on this remote world, and indeed the very planet itself.

And beyond this stress-inducing stopover lies hope in the ongoing quest to quash the Doctor's 'guilt' in the eyes of The Overcast. Perhaps finally, the Doctor's bad reputation can be literally a thing of the past.

 

The title of this story is on the unusual side, and overall this is a real curiosity from start to finish. Titan have done many experimental stories with the different doctors they have been granted rights to, but this really pushes the envelope. The Eleventh Doctor uses a wacky turn of phrase quite often in any given edition, but this escapade really sees everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to synonyms and idioms. Rob Williams is normally a consist and strong writer, but this is a sign of creative juices being just a touch over-flowing.

The art continue in much the same vein as before. It tells the story well and offers fine facial expression. However I still cannot place Warren Pleece's efforts higher up on the ladder of creative quality than his fellow contributors Simon Fraser and Boo Cook.

There are many ambitious concepts in play, but for my sensibilities at least Pleece does sometimes miss that vital 'X-factor' when portraying large set pieces. He does however do justice to the excellent character work that the Eleventh Doctor line is by now renowned for.

However the crux of this instalment (of what is a cleverly done ongoing arc) does advance the mystery and speculations to great effect. We are drip-fed some information on just what the nefarious Master has been able to do during the Time War, and only now is this particular version of the Doctor in a position to piece together why The Overcast have been desperate to hold him to trial. The Doctor somewhat weakly admits how he may be a hypocrite of sorts, but simultaneously emphasises that his ends do justify the means, and there are far worse 'monsters' out there who do not stop to consider accountability. In essence, the Doctor's self awareness places him in the black column, and those he has had to defeat that had similar potential/talents that could have helped many beings are in the red column.

Just the one panel of the War Doctor surfaces amongst dozens of frames that populate this comic. Yet it does re-emphasise firmly the pressure being placed mentally on Alice, as she has already obtained a clutch of unwanted mental processes courtesy of being in close contact to the TARDIS. This particular aspect of the ongoing arc of Year Two is being done in assured and wholehearted fashion and it is difficult to see the resolution being any less than brilliant, given the pedigree of writing readers have come to expect.

Abslom Daak continues to be well written and feel an organic part of proceedings, rather than one of many examples in Doctor Who's history where nostalgia and homage to the past were a millstone around the neck of real and vital creativity. He manages to ooze charisma, although there is no doubt he is rakish, thuggish and lacking much capacity when it comes to empathy or patience.

It is The Squire who perhaps gets the short straw. Whilst remaining likeable, and indeed noteworthy in being considerably older in her physical appearance to most companions of the Doctor, she really does not have much bearing on the story. This has been a problem for a few issues now. True, she gets to unleash some weaponry that allows the Doctor to meet a vital figure in his life, and someone that can help him in his ongoing quest to clear his name. Yet it still feels like Daak could have done much the same thing, and probably been much more entertaining into the bargain. This problem almost brings to mind the issues with K9 when he was a regular character in the Tom Baker era: a useful plot-device, but lacking an actual path of character growth.

The Sontarans do have a marauding presence here, but never directly interact with the heroic TARDIS travellers. Eventually the Doctor attempts to use their genocidal practice as a means of eradicating Then and the Now being, but has little luck in that tactic. I do generally enjoy the Sontarans as adversaries, and hopefully they are used in a more traditional way in the future. The Sontaran Stratagem certainly did well in that regard, and especially as far as TV stories featuring the 'potato-heads' go. Hopefully that model is followed some time soon in one of the comics. 

This early 2016 entry into the adventures of the Eleventh Doctor is certainly not anywhere close to being perfect, and does somewhat lack the normal intangibles that the franchise thrives on. Yet it still offers plenty of memorable visuals and visceral thrills. Hopefully next time, there can be a little more even-handedness with the scripting and the art finishing.

 

BONUS HUMOUR STRIP - Time Spill On Aisle Five

A pretty solid effort, if not Marc Ellerby's best script. It again shows commendable planning in having thematic links to the main story. Given my mild reservations over the artwork of Pleece above, for once the bonus story actually outshines the main attraction. This is surprising given the focus on light entertainment, but it does (albeit in its short length) offer cohesive quality visuals.





Eleventh Doctor Year 2: # 4 - OutrunBookmark and Share

Sunday, 28 February 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
 THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR #2.4 (Credit: Titan)

WRITER - ROB WILLIAMS
ARTIST - WARREN PLEECE
COLORIST - HI-FI,  WITH THANKS TO AMOONA SAOHIN

LETTERER - RICHARD STARKINGS AND
COMICRAFT’S JIMMY BETANCOURT

(ABSLOM DAAK CREATED BY STEVE MOORE
AND STEVE DILLON)

EDITOR - ANDREW JAMES
ASSISTANT EDITORS - GABRIELA HOUSTON
AND JESSICA BURTON
DESIGNER - ROB FARMER

PUBLISHED DECEMBER 23RD 2015. TITAN COMICS

The Doctor's antiquated but invaluable vessel has finally decided to land somewhere after a series of mind-bending detours. So begins an exploration of the Planet Veestrax. After everyone's ordeal in the TARDIS tested their perceptions of reality, some respite should really be in order. However, more headache-inducing visions soon appear on the horizon for the Doctor, his associates, and the unkempt, swearing and psychotic warrior - Abslom Daak.

The Doctor has to open up further about his past to a concerned Alice, as well as attempt to decipher the clues as to the present status of Veestrax. Can he do this, however, when another old enemy of his may also be about to make their presence known?

As intriguing as last issue's Pull to Open was, it ultimately has minimal bearing on this new story, albeit being part of a larger arc.  A lot of set-up and characterisation is the chosen focus by scribe Rob Williams. Despite the pace being sedate, there is much that is memorable here.

Daak certainly gets his best outing yet, in that his bullishness and lack of education comes to the fore. Most notably, there is a stark verbal reminder made by the Doctor of this grizzled near-do-well having much innocent blood on his hands. This is despite some of his heroic acts that helped save lives, once Daak became an infamous 'Dalek Killer'.

It is also engaging to witness how this chain-sword-brandishing man's involvement in the Time War is contrasted with the Squire's own battles. The Doctor is caught in a tightrope act of judging just whether she is a force for good or evil. Fall one way and denounce squire as an enemy in sheep's clothing, or fall the other way and place as much trust in this aged female warrior as any of his most beloved assistants from 'home from home' planet Earth. Pick the wrong side and he may feel guilty for letting her down, or feel guilty for risking the lives of others.

Outrun is also notable in reminding us how little the Eleventh Doctor tends to tell his companions about the period of his former life when morals were all variable shades of grey. Of course, compared to Doctors Nine and Ten, there was little over guilt over the deeds of yesteryear. Fittingly, Alice still knows little of her friend's role in the Time War. This is despite her many adventures shared with him, and furthermore, her retained memories of the adventures with both a past and future self of him, in the spellbinding Four Doctors crossover.

Of course, a good chunk of the Steven Moffat TV productions explored the Doctor being more dangerous than his worst enemies. For the new Year Two arc though, this is a chance to keep building on The Day Of The Doctor - which functioned as an intriguing nucleus of an idea, as well as a crowd-pleasing feature length special. Once again, a handful of panels feature the bearded John Hurt incarnation, who is also described as "X-rated" by the Eleventh Doctor. They manage again to leave an impression, perhaps because of their brevity. The standout example is the attempt by 'The Then and The Now' to regress the Doctor back to his past self. Another moment of impact - and one that has spooky undertones - is when Alice is totally confused by the fluctuations in time, and sees herself beside the aged warrior in the middle of an adventure, despite never having met him in the first place.

Again, I found Warren Pleece was up to the demands of Williams' vision for the vast majority of the tale. Character expressions are something that comics can boast as an inherent strength, and even over the televisual media, where it takes indifferent direction or a weak performance to miss out on a vital emotional beat. And the emotions explored in this story are definitely raw and heartfelt. The particular visual highlight from Pleece's art involves a jarringly blank 'protective view' of the Time War, which only the Doctor is able to really see for what it is.

The questions continue to outweigh the answers, come the final sections of the story. And this is welcome, as the parent TV show, with Matt Smith at the front and centre, did similar tricks in keeping followers intrigued, and indeed frustrated (!). This is a strong effort, and I unreservedly recommend it for reading, once the first two or three issues in Year Two are accounted for.

                                                                  ***

Bonus Humour Strip - "Who Who Who, Merry Christmas".

This comic was released just before Christmas Day, and fittingly this example of adventures and witticisms with the Pond 'family' centres on the Yuletide occasion. Whilst we are leaving Winter behind shortly, this still can be read as a depiction of the highs and lows that a group of relations encounter in having to put in some original effort into an overly familiar time of the year. The particular humour standout for me came in the form of mocking a number of festive foes, that were conjured up by showrunners Russell T Davies and Moffat over the years as a form of lightweight opposition.

                                                                  ***

There is also another fine variant cover. It is described as a 'Subscription Photo', and credited to Will Brooks.

 





Eleventh Doctor Year 2: # 3 - Pull To OpenBookmark and Share

Friday, 12 February 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR #2.3 (Credit: Titan)
Written By: Si Spurrier
Art by: Simon Fraser/
Colours By: Gary Caldwell

Letterer: Richard Starkings + Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: Andrew James
Assistant Editors: Jessica Burton & Gabriela Houston
Designer - Rob Farmer

(Abslom Daak created by Steve Moore and Steve Dillon)

Published December 9th 2015. Titan Comics

Some crucial problems with the TARDIS linger on for rather too long in this latest batch of adventure, mystery and emotional bereavement. The TARDIS crew, their new ally the Squire, and Abslom Daak all fail to get an easy ride. Potential enlightenment may be the silver lining to the cloud, however.

Alice and the Squire are trying to cope with an uncooperative and arguably perilous TARDIS in a state of flux. Former Dalek killer Daak eventually comes into proceedings, and is still mightily frustrated over a lack of answers as to where his wife's body has been hidden. The TARDIS' long-lived pilot could resolve some of these issues, but he is nowhere to be found.

The Doctor is seemingly facing a judicial enquiry over the actions of the one past self he tries to shun completely. There is no way out of the law process that the Doctor had tried to avoid (in the preceding two-parter), and he feels there is little reason to deny what he may have been capable of. Whilst his abilities to recall everything that happened are affected by issues with the fabric of time itself, he still is prepared to confess every action that does enter his head..

 

The story does well to give regular readers more insight into why the War Doctor stepped in to ensure the removal of the Cyclors, and thus cause major seismic shifts in the Overcast society from that point onwards. The reveal of who the Doctor is actually talking to is also done well, and whilst not unprecedented in Doctor Who comics, is still a fine bit of (welcome) revelation.

The bold decision to use the front door panel layout of the TARDIS Police Box with which to arrange the storytelling is laudable for its ambition. At times the panels are consequently small and some of the bigger 'event' moments feel short-changed. But we also have some more conventional pages without this framework, most often for the storyline with the Doctor answering for his past, so a compromise of sorts is reached.

Otherwise though, Fraser manages to get back his overall creative vision and produce artwork as good as any he has done in the past for the Eleventh Doctor range. The overall story may have a somewhat thin plot, but it has some quite deep emotional depths to plough, and so justifies the overall arc in taking a somewhat side trip approach for this third issue.

I have always enjoyed a work of fiction that explores the reliability of memory, and also the sheer importance most individuals bestow on those past recollections. Each of Alice, the Squire and Daak has to contend with the ghosts of yesteryear, and this is brought to full life, given the overall simple nature of the story. Those of us who grew up with Daak as the 'backup' comic strip in (what is the present day) Doctor Who Magazine cannot begrudge a very similar visual portrayal of the tragic end that Daak's other half Taiyin suffered.

In summary, this is a decent one-off that passes a reader's time pleasantly, but may not be one to keep reflecting upon to the same extent, that the opening multi-parter to Year Two had the quality of in spades.

 

Bonus Humour Strip

Gunpowder, Time Lord, And Plot is a tale which harkens back to the major celebration that all British people know and love - 'Guyfawks Night'. A two page entry, this has ample space for a bit of time travel and for Fawkes himself to assist with the powerful fireworks one would require for holding a private display at home. The Ponds and the Doctor almost get more than they had bargained for, but nothing too vital ends up blown to smithereens, come the last panel.