Ninth Doctor: Issue 2 - 'Doctormania Part Two' - (Ongoing Monthly Series)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 28 September 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
NINTH DOCTOR #2 (Credit: Titan)
WRITER - Cavan Scott
ARTIST - Adriana Melo
COLORIST - Matheus Lopes

LETTERER - RICHARD STARKINGS AND
COMICRAFT’S JIMMY BETANCOURT
DESIGNER - ROB FARMER
SENIOR EDITOR - ANDREW JAMES
ASSISTANT EDITORS - JESSICA BURTON & AMOONA SAOHIN

Published - 25th May 2016, TITAN COMICS
 

The TARDIS trio continue to be separated, as Rose finds herself caught in the machinations of some other members of the Slitheen family. Their dreadful plan on this occasion? To undo a conference on the planet Clix, which is designed to bring some peace and re-bolster the Raxas Alliance. And they have the perfect way to do this, by impersonating their foe - the Doctor!

Meanwhile the real Doctor and Jack manage to escape custody, and in the process are accompanied by investigator Estiva.  Some impulsiveness from the young semi-humanoid leads to bloodshed. In the process however, it becomes clear just where Rose is.  

And back on Clix the Slitheen's plot is soon uncovered, but the by-product is that an old and savage ritual is brought back from the annals of history. Rose's proactive nature may have led her out of the frying pan, and into the fire....

 

Intrigue, action and revelation are all that much more pertinent and effectual, now the initial scene-setting in Part One has been dispensed with.

Once again Cavan Scott is able to swiftly remind fans who first saw the Ninth Doctor onscreen over 10 years ago (or caught up on DVD/ Blu Ray), what a strong and engaging main protagonist he makes. Virtually every line of dialogue rings true. Thus, the many-talented Mancunian who helped 21st Century TV Who hit the ground running, once again has justice done to his A+ performances. Ecclestone's Doctor, despite the scars of the Time War, truly cherished all life across the Universe. This gives gravity to when one of the enemy Slitheen is shot down, in a mostly accidental way, by temporary 'assistant' Estiva.

Rose gets plenty to do in her storyline, and is likable and as engaging as the finest hours for the character in the 2005 TV run. She does suffer the rather standard and old-fashioned incapacitated fate at one point. But it is more a road bump in her way and she is basically proactive, bold and determined to get the just, and most peaceful outcome, to this newest adventure for her.

Jack is also quite well done here, if perhaps not having the same amount of development as in the Weapons of Past Destruction mini series. But there is still time in the conclusion or the ensuing stories of this monthly comic for some suitable character development to be done. He is of course a figure in the wider canon that was strong enough to justify his own spin off series (and indeed also now a separate Titan comic as well).

The art from Adriana Melo is decent enough. It is admittedly not close to the sleek and epic worthy miniseries visuals of last year, but still good enough to evoke memories of the Russell T Davies stories, when the natives of Earth encountered unscrupulous invaders who were prepared to kill in order to pose as replicas of their victims. To my particular tastes, the events of the story here unfold with undoubted clarity, but at the expense of any risks and notable visual creativity.

In any case, readers will find that the plot of this multipart comic is more than robust enough to bind events together. The allocation of three issues seems fair, although on occasion some twists verge on the predictable or rote. 'Doubles' of the Doctor is a story core as old as the missing Hartnell story The Massacre. However, it was a missed opportunity in the early episodes of the reborn TV era not to have the Slitheen pretend to be one of the protagonists. The particulars of those stories back then hinged on the need for these sharp-clawed beings to kill who they mimicked. In this story however, a new spin on the concept is achieved.

 

EXTRAS:

 

Another letters page is incorporated towards the end section of the comic. From times long ago, before the idea of an internet seemed credible, I found this a welcome part of a publication which often relied just as much on fan/reader reaction, as the fertile imaginations of the writers and art team.

Four alternate covers are also on display, both in a gallery collection, as well as full page splendour.





Supremacy of the Cybermen #2 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 28 August 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
SUPREMACY OF THE CYBERMEN #2 (Credit: Titan)

WRITERS: GEORGE MANN & CAVAN SCOTT

ARTISTS: IVAN RODRIGUEZ & WALTER GEOVANNI

COLORIST: NICOLA RIGHI

LETTERER: RICHARD STARKINGS
AND COMICRAFT’S JIMMY BETANCOURT

DESIGNERS: ANDREW LEUNG & ROB FARMER

ASSISTANT EDITORS: JESSICA BURTON & AMOONA SAOHIN

SENIOR EDITOR: ANDREW JAMES

MAIN COVER: ALESSANDRO VITTI & NICOLA RIGHI
 
Released: August 17th 2016, TITAN COMICS

Four Doctors, occupying four very different time zones and places, but sharing one common denominator: an old enemy, who spearheads the ambitions of a race of perennial foes. There is much chaos to cope with, and many problems to solve for the grey-haired Doctor and his predecessors - who favour exclaiming "Allons-y", "Fantastic!" and "Geronimo" respectively to signify reaction to major developments.

Silurians have upgraded to the Cyber Race, and prowl the startling environment that is prehistoric Earth. The Sontarans are desperate for an unusual alliance with a Time Lord, as they gather their armies together in their native Sontar system. And back in 2006, in a council estate area of London, the Ninth Doctor and his closest friends try to save London from devastation by Cyber Forces. The most pivotal action is on Gallifrey itself, in a time of unrest and anxiousness, as the recently Clara-deprived Doctor tries his best to figure out the plans of his mortal enemy, who was once a Time Lord deity: Rassilon!

 

**

"The Cybermen bend their knee to me, Doctor. We are Time Lords. We mold eternity."

That quote from the ex-Lord President, that the Doctor so efficiently deposed in Hell Bent, is a fine way to solidify just what power ratio exists between The Gallifreyans and the Cybermen that have joined forces. (I also cannot help wondering if some Game Of Thrones in-joke is operating, given that Donald Sumpter has also portrayed the rather more moral Maester Luwin). There also is the fine concept of there being factions on the home planet of the Time Lords, which perhaps was not always explored in Doctor Who as much as it might have been over the many years since The War Games first was transmitted.

Rassilon works well enough as an engaging antagonist that clashes with the current Doctor's familiar righteous fury. It is also useful to have a clear figure that gives the Cybermen foot soldiers that extra dimension, even if all their dialogue remains much the same.

Also, he seems to be the exception to the rule that a Cyber Leader or Controller has all his emotions removed to the core. If anything this character at times is that bit more moustache-twirling and revelling in evil than any onscreen or off-screen depiction of the Time Lord's founding father from the parent TV show. And for the purposes of a mini-arc series released over summer this is acceptable enough.

Perhaps, however, writers in general could resolve to abandon one of the less engaging Who catchphrases. The Cybermen look great here, but some of their dialogue could be better, not least a certain catchphrase of theirs. I really do scratch my head that "Delete! Delete!" is still alive and well, eleven or so years after it's 'premier outing'.

 

Some of the Doctors get to shine better than others here. Obviously, the Capaldi incarnation cannot be shunned as he is the contemporary one, and he has all the sections most pertinent to the main plot. Tennant's doctor is bustling and full of giddy energy too, and quick to adjust to changes of circumstances like a top level pro chess champion. I also enjoy the interplay with his two female companions, and appreciate there is little reliance on continuity references, given that quite a few readers will not be reading the Tenth Doctor range that often, if at all.

 

The material for Doctors Nine and Eleven must be declared as rather ordinary in comparison to their counterparts. The Eleventh Doctor shows he knows the Silurians but there is no need for his keenest wit or skills. Someone else who had taken moments to read the TARDIS logs or diaries could easily have the same thing to say. Perhaps the most appropriate substitution would be River, who knew Madame Vastra, and would have some emotional engagement as a result. Things do pick up later on, when the Doctor uncovers evidence of the grander scheme by Rassilon and his armies, and explains to Alice the threat of 'Ark' ships.

 

The Ninth Doctor sections can border on the run-of-the-mill, barring a potentially decisive accident that may leave this TARDIS team stranded or severely wounded.  This last development is one of the quite common 'mini cliff-hangers', that immediately precedes the actual one to end this instalment on. The knowledge that Rose will encounter the Cybermen for the first time, with the Tenth incarnation of her best friend - at least if the Web of Time is restored to normality - makes her sections with them here feel very ephemeral, but also interesting in that these remorseless beings are such a menace to her beloved home city. (And as Noel Clarke once commented, the Cybermen have that raw physical intimidation to them, in that they can kick down the front door of your home.)

 

I am still hopeful that the various plot threads that intermingle in this epic crossover event will become less opaque. This progression would then allow for a fine execution of the core premise, and perhaps bring some new groundbreaking changes for the various ongoing monthly series, including: the well-established one for Doctors Ten and Eleven, the increasingly confident sequence for Doctor Twelve, or the fledgling first year proper for the much underused Ecclestone Doctor (after Scott's splendid miniseries).

Art is generally of a pleasing quality, although I again find myself struggling to hear Tennant's voice carry through during the Tenth Doctor sections, as the likeness here for this ever-popular incarnation is not the most representative. This has been a problem several times in the main range involving him before, and is somewhat puzzling.

Colouring is something I almost take as a given when I do these reviews, but in these two issues of the mini-arc so far, I feel like some attention is necessitated. With such a busy storyline, and so many characters involved it is welcome that Nicola Righi manages to make everything cohere that bit more, such is his considered use of palette. A lot of scope is required of the pencils/inks, and they need a particularly illustrious colourist to breathe full life. Consequently this is one event series that will reward re-readings simply for the enjoyment of scrolling through the visuals.

 

EXTRAS:

Two variant covers are presented both in mid-size, and full-page variants. The first is a photo cover, and the second is a striking effort by Fabio Listrani.





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.





Ninth Doctor: Issue 1 - 'Doctormania Part One' - (Ongoing Monthly Series)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Doctor Who: Ninth Doctor  #1  (Credit: Titan)

Writer - Cavan Scott

Artist - Adriana Melo

Colorist - Matheus Lopes

Letterers - Richard Starkings and Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

Senior Editor - Andrew James

Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton + Gabriela Houston

Designer - Rob Farmer
 

Published April 13 2016, Titan Comics

 

Their epic encounters with the Unon and the Lect now some way behind them, the Ninth Doctor and his two human friends Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness are ready for trials and tribulations anew. A visit to a world, where the cult of a certain "Doctor Who" seems to have taken popular cultural entertainment and its consumers by storm, causes consternation for the last survivor of the great Time War between Time Lords and Daleks. As much as he has a healthy self-regard, he is not prepared to be the cause of such unbridled joy and reverence. But metallic beings with considerable weaponry are also operating close at hand, and this challenge may be up the centuries-old-hero's street to a greater extent.

 

The triumvirate of Rose, Captain Jack and the Christopher Ecclestone variant of the ever-enduring Doctor only had a small clutch of adventures on TV together (especially if taking into account that two-parters were always just the one overall story during that time of the show's history).

The decision to persist with this particular TARDIS team after the success of the mini-series was a wise one and most welcome to my mind. The lack of complete trust the Doctor and Jack have with one another, coupled with a grudging respect ensures that things are never that cosy. Rose's naivety on one hand, but great ability to empathise and give good counsel on the other, make her one of the best companions even to this day. Cavan Scott knows his Doctor Who as well as anyone and makes sure that the three core characters are front and centre and take the reader along with them on their journey full-bloodedly.

 

This is a relatively straightforward and no-frills action adventure beginning, but it also plays out in a coherent and meaningful fashion, which sometimes is a noticeably lacking trait when a TV tie-in product is concerned. The traditional cliffhanger is well done, even if to some long-term fans it trades of the much-used device of having 'an evil version' of one of the regulars.

We meet a good clutch of supporting characters who do their role in fleshing out the latest world the TARDIS has landed on, and it remains to be seen which play the largest role in the plot. Yani and Penny are two intriguing female players in the mix, the former being sweet and deferential, the latter having various hidden layers much alike an onion.

Dialogue is consistently up to the mark that the initial Russell T Davies series of modern Doctor Who was so celebrated for. I have repeatedly stated my regard for the Moffat/Capaldi era we are currently in (even with a noticeably longer season interregnum), but the work of the versatile RTD still sets respectably high standards to this day - whichever of the many forms Doctor Who fiction can take its form in.

The art here perhaps is still to win me over as much as I ideally would like it to. I was very impressed by the combined efforts of Blair Shedd and (on a semi-regular basis) Rachael Stott for the 2015 mini-series. Now, for this new arc taking place within a regular monthly series, Scott has been united with the services of Adriana Melo. Whilst the consistency and textures needed to tell a coherent visual narrative are all perfectly sound, they seem to portray the main three protagonists in a way I do not associate from my various memories onscreen. Taken as a different interpretation in its own right, there is nothing technically wrong. Sometimes a whole story, complete with its visual twists and turns, needs to play out in full for me to truly appreciate its merits. Hopefully this is such one instance in the ensuing 'episodes' to come.

 

BONUS MATERIAL:

 

My many years as a comic addict have involved just as much anticipation with the letters page section (complete with pithy responses from the editors), as with the main comic story itself. So it is welcome that Titan have opted to make views known in this somewhat traditional form, and bestow some small honour on devoted followers of these well-crafted tales. A clutch of three letters is included here this month, although it is actually Cavan Scott himself who kindly responds to comments on the stories he puts so much thoughtful work into.

                                                                                                                ***

Once again there are some nicely done (full-page) alternate covers, and (smaller-sized) previews for next months' allotted selection, and in generous quantity for this inaugural issue. These serve to demonstrate the many artistic voices that can be so finely aligned with the evergreen Doctor Who core concept.

 





The Ninth Doctor Mini-Series - Issue FiveBookmark and Share

Thursday, 31 December 2015 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
DOCTOR WHO: THE NINTH DOCTOR MINISERIES #5 (Credit: Titan / Lee Sullivan)
Written By: Cavan Scott,
Artwork: Blair Shedd + Rachael Stott
Colouring: Anang Setyawan,
Lettering: Richard Starkings + Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

Editor Andrew James, Assistant Editor: Kirsten Murray
Designer: Rob Farmer
Released December 2nd 2015, Titan Comics

Weapons Of Past Destruction: Conclusion

 

This climactic finale to the mini-series manages to combine enough for readers' hearts and heads, with also some pure sensation and bursts of colour that serve to enliven any given panel. The Doctor gets to have a lot of morally sound commentary on the actions of the misguided Unon and show his deep concern for the all but extinct and forever distorted Lect.

Plenty of material of note also features for Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness. Rose has had to absorb a lot of alien planet history in a relatively short period of time and feels a bond for the half-crippled Lect, who now rely on battle 'tanks' and barely resemble the scientists and artists that occupied their now-destroyed home world. Jack is separated from the Doctor and Rose, and faces the prospect of an eternal limbo. But whilst captured he manages to realise that while the Unon have done some monstrous things, not all of them are irredeemably 'bad'.

The shades of grey that war is inherently all about is a strong theme, and that theme is effectively explored in this epic. It is also as relevant as ever in our own society in the 21st century. The title of the story misquotes a frequent headline that cropped up during the early part of the last decade, and that phrase still resonates and still has foreboding meaning now.

Although the  Lect would seem to have the more just cause, there is no dispute over their having a 'bull in a china shop' manner. By using such formidable war machine shells they have roamed parts of space and operated in a way that has shaken those with less battle-minded priorities, who may be present. The Unon may have a didactic and sanctimonious leader in Arnora, but still her intentions in shaping the universe have some substance and grounding.

Satisfyingly, we see the Doctor decide to ultimately let the war 'resolve itself',  although some help from Captain Jack ensures the Time Lord does not get cut down as a result of being somewhat passive this time round. It is reasonable for the Doctor to be an observer, as this war was not really his doing on a fundamental level.  Important figures on both sides of the battle die, but ultimately a peaceful solution does present itself, with a little help coming in the form of the Doctor's ship.

 

I have not discussed covers in any detail in any of my prior comic reviews for this site, but would like to on this occasion. Most of the ones used for this now-concluded mini-series look at least eye-catching if not mesmerising; my personal favourites being issues Three and One. Somewhat disappointingly this fifth issue bucks the quality trend in its choice of the main cover, which effectively acts as a close zoom at our heroic trio.

And as regards reflection on the miniseries as a whole and how each individual 'fifth' stands up: Issue Four perhaps was the highpoint of the run. It certainly had both incident and plot development but also gave the art team a free rein at showing their skill and ability to present such wonderfully 'out there' concepts. This issue is almost a bit more closed, (if also focused), and evokes the early issues again. But having a clear ending to the story which seems organic and fitting is a good quality. Also,  readers that committed to this long-running story do have their patience rewarded now, and indeed in the near future.

 

Several times this year Christopher Ecclestone showed his typical warmth and generosity - when the main spotlight and cameras are engaged elsewhere - of reprising the Ninth Doctor for respectively an engaged couple, and later a poorly fan of the show. Of course the chances of his ever coming back on-screen for a proper new story are as sparse as that of Paul McGann being entrusted with a fully fledged TV spin off. But clearly the readership and the critics think that the character that succeeds the worn "a bit thin" War Doctor deserves as many extra stops in his travels as can be made possible.

As much as this publication is a decisive end to a story that began quite some time ago now, it is in fact just the beginning as far as the Ninth Doctor comic book series goes. Cavan Scott will again be the writer, but will again other able artists on the endeavour; starting with Adriana Melo. I look forward keenly to a more flexible and experimental run from spring 2016 onwards that can utilise all manner of stand-alone, multi-part and arc-linked monthly editions.

A final word then before any more 'missing adventures' materialise:

Fantastic!

 

Bonus Material:

Once again some alternate covers are presented, in the absence of a humour mini-story.

 

Image result for ninth doctor comic issue 5 covers         Image result for ninth doctor comic issue 5 lee sullivan          





The Ninth Doctor Mini-Series - Issue FourBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 11 November 2015 - Reviewed by Martin Paul Hudecek
Ninth Doctor Mini-Series - Issue Four (Credit: Titan)

Writer - Cavan Scott
Art/Color Finishes - Blair Shedd
Colors-  Anang Setyawan
Letterer - Richard Starkings + Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor - Andrew James
Assistant Editor - Kirsten Murray
Designer - Rob Farmer
Released October 21st 2015, Titan Comics

This penultimate component of the miniseries makes the thoroughly widespread consequences ofthe Time War very apparent, and the Doctor is forced to make another choice that will affect countless life forms across all of time, space and potentially all reality as well.

Thrilling incident follows astounding revelation in this story, as we have every right to expect given the potential demonstrated in prior months. Captain Jack has to somehow control an especially emotional TARDIS stranded in the Vortex which faces an imminent threat from the Unon.

The Lect reveal that their considerably bulky and powerful frames are just a shell for a very much organic alien life form. As that happens the captured Rose is forced to hear their side of the story and possibly change her very attitude to the scenario previously assumed to be clear-cut by the TARDIS crew.

The Time War has already been explored in much length by both TV Doctor Who and the recent Four Doctor special event series. But yet more secrets are un-mined in the narrative as the Doctor converses with several of the Unon. This prompts him into doing the most direct and game-changing action since the adventure first commenced. As that happens his more proud, even pompous side is on full view for all to see.

Whereas previous issues were wholesale action or slower paced showcasing of lovely scenery and character imaging this issue is a smooth blend of the two.

Now we have the more light hearted characters dispensed with, and perhaps rather brutally given the supernova that has decimated Fluren's world, focus swings squarely onto the two opposing forces of Unon and Lect. More personal clashes are resumed in the case of the two alpha males that are Jack Harkness and the Doctor. Whilst it may be a bit more of the same dynamic, and so lack the freshness when employed in issues One and Two, but is still enjoyable and offers up some choice dialogue. It also does not distract from all the important new plot developments.

The writer is also possibly still trying to wrong foot his readership as although we see much of the background of the Unon and marvel at their articulate and noble personalities, there is still scope for them to actually be a lot less benign than they seem. The Lect forces make sudden contact with Rose apparently their newly-appointed and seemingly non-coerced spokesperson. The fine cliffhanger leads the way for a  finale that will almost certainly see a decisive and big battle. And more immediately of concern is just what will the Doctor have to do to regain the Rose Tyler that he thought he knew(!?).

As ever Cavan Scott's characterization and dialogue are well above par - even by the strong Titan Comic standards. I eagerly await what he has to bring in Issue Five, as much as I dread having to move on as the mini-series comes to its end.

Of course, presentation is the bread and butter of any comic book; be it intellectual, emotive, a romp or a heady combination of all these. Blair Shedd goes from strength to strength as he has the stern test of having to convey so many large-scale concepts. Fans will enjoy the fleeting re-visits to foes of the Doctor such as the Sontarans and the Cybermen that had three digits on each hand. The colour work is simply top-notch, and i continue to enjoy the silhouette change-up which almost is the signature touch to this mini-series.

It is also probably the most realistic and photo-style artwork of any Titan range I have reviewed thus far, and for my tastes anyway this is a great approach. Artistic licence is never a bad thing but can sometimes be pushed too far in order to stand out from the crowd. With Series One of modern Doctor Who being such a leap forward in terms of visuals, it seems appropriate to have a 'cutting edge' style here which almost an irrelevance of the decade since Ecclestone, Piper and Barrowman first played their parts together on TV.

 

BONUS:

There is no humour strip in this issue, but we do get a nice insight into the artwork process which only reinforces the care and attention Shedd brings to the table. Some alternate front covers are also present so as to add full value to this edition.