Genesis of the Daleks (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 9 March 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who and The Genesis of The Daleks (Credit: BBC Audio)Written by Terrance Dicks
Read By Jon Culshaw
With Dalek Voices by Nicholas Briggs

Released by BBC Worldwide - October 2017
Available from Amazon UK
Genesis of the Daleks is one of the strongest serials in all of Doctor Who. Not just of the classic series, but to this day you can still see ripples from it.  Davros made another modern reappearance fairly recently in the Series 9 opening two-parter. His story, and one can even argue that one of the earliest seeds of the Time War that served as the series main background when it relaunched in 2005, began in that wonderful story.  It has a ton of memorable moments, from the introduction of Davros, the great scene between the Doctor and Davros discussing philosophical questions, the Doctor's moral dilemma about whether or not to destroy the Daleks...up to the big finale with the Daleks taking over and turning on their own creator.  It's a great story, that never feels too padded despite it's six episode lengths.  Such an iconic story could, in theory, be lessened by it's adaptation in another form of media.  But the book only enhances the story, adds a bit more behind what the characters are thinking and motivations, and this audiobook of that book is equally excellent.  
Read by Impressionist/Comedian/Voice Actor Jon Culshaw, and enhanced by some sound effects, music, and even Daleks voiced by Nicholas Briggs...there are moments that make you forget you are even listening to an audiobook.  Culshaw's top notch impression of Tom Baker's tones is so perfect that it is beyond parody. There were genuine times I could have sworn I was just hearing Baker himself in the recording.  And since Culshaw also uses the same voice modulation device that Briggs uses for the Daleks to voice Davros...the conversations between The Doctor and Davros leave you completely caught up in the story. 
Audiobooks are, for me, the most entertaining when the narrator can do a wide range of voices and keep the listening interesting.  Culshaw is then the perfect narrator for me, as he can do so many different voices, and his Fourth Doctor is pitch perfect.  Having Briggs' Dalek voices mixed in as well keeps this one of the most entertaining of these audiobooks that I have listened to thus far.  
It also made me think.  I remember watching a classic story of the series, and someone who really enjoyed the modern show watched a bit with me out of curiosity.  They struggled with the old effects and cheap look. But the audiobooks can take an interesting story, and remove that element. The lesser visuals are no longer part of the equation, only the story.  I actually tried to forget what I know of the classic story, and try and picture it with more modern visuals. This story holds up, and I think if old fans who can't quite get past the old show's visual cheapness, but want a taste of these great old stories, these could be an interesting way to jump in.  
This is a classic story, one of the all time greats, and it is wonderfully brought to life by Terrance Dicks adaptation and Culshaw, with the help of Briggs, make the listening a true joy.  

The Robots of Death (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 1 March 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who And The Robots Of Death (Credit: BBC Audio)
Written by Terrance Dicks
Read By Louise Jameson

Released by BBC Worldwide - February 2018
Available from Amazon UK

Louise Jameson, who portrayed Leela alongside the Fourth Doctor in the 70s, reads Terrence Dicks' Target Novelization of one of her earliest episodes, and it's another solid unabridged audiobook of this classic line of novels.  As I stated in my review of The Ambassadors of Death, my familiarty with the Target line is somewhat limited.  I only really knew that they existed and that in the years prior to home video, a lot of fans were more familiar with the books than they were the original TV episodes. But from what I've gathered just listening to these two audiobooks, this really was a wonderful line of books, faithfully adapting their TV counterparts, while still feeling fresh. I've seen The Robots of Death a couple of times, I know the story, and yet this audiobook still felt fresh.  There are scenes I remember quite clearly, like the early TARDIS scene with the yo-yo and the Doctor giving his enigmatic explanation of how the TARDIS can be bigger on the inside...but Jameson's reading of it felt like I was getting it new again.

One thing I am enjoying is that these audiobooks, while unabridged, aren't terribly long.  This one was only about three hours or so long.  I listened to it in an afternoon while cleaning up around the house. A real long novel unabridge on audio can be up to 11 hours long, but these little adaptations of the show weren't terribly long books, but they weren't dumbed down either. Dicks does a great job taking the televised version, and turning it into a book that is both short and sweet, yet not compromising what the television version was all about. 

Jameson does a solid job reading this as well, and the occassional bit of music or sound effects help make the action soar. I don't know if I'd ever have time to sit and actually read every Target Novelization, but getting to sample them via the audiobook is not a bad route to take.  If you are curious about these old books, find a story you like that has been released in this format by BBC Worldwide so far, and give them a listen.  This was always a good story, and at three hours your time commitment is minimal. 

The Ambassadors of Death (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 24 February 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who: The Ambassadors Of Death (Credit: BBC Audio)
Written by Terrance Dicks
Read By Geoffrey Beevers

Released by BBC Worldwide - January 2018
Available from Amazon UK

Way back in the day, before home video, and before there were even many reruns of Doctor Who, many serials of the Classic Series were fondly remembered by fans via their novelizations printed by Target Books. There are probably still older fans who remember seeings bits of stories that never actually aired, because their memories of the Target Novelizations were so embedded into their memories of the show.  Now the BBC are taking those novelizations, and producing audiobooks of them.  So The Ambassadors of Death this is an audiobook adaptation of a novelization of a TV serial that aired in 1970.  Also, this is not to be confused with the television soundtrack of the story which was previously released, which was the soundtrack of the TV story with linking narration by Caroline John

With all that out of the way, I can say, I was not one of the fans who grew up with hte Target books.  I've never had an opportunity to read any of them, as I grew up i nthe wrong era and wrong continent for these books to be too available.  So this is really my first taste of what Target brought to the table. I can see why this line of books lasted so long, and managed to adapt nearly every serial from the classic series. The Story Editor of the Pertwee Era, Terrance Dicks, wrote this novelization (he actually wrote several and was fairly prolific in the book series), and his adaptation of the TV story he co-wrote is very detailed and captures the spirit of the original Pertwee story perfectly. I haven't watched The Ambassadors of Death in a few years, but listening to this I could just picture it all brought back to life in my head. 

Of course, an audiobook version of any book is only as good as the person reading it, and Geoffrey Beevers could read me the phonebook.  He has a great voice, actually voices as he distinguishes several characters with different tones and accents, and that voice encouraged me to zip through the audiobook.  Beavers also briefly played the Master on television against Tom Baker, and went on to reprise that character in severa Big Finish audio plays.  He was also, fact fans, the husband of Caroline John who portrayed Liz Shaw during the first season of Pertwee's tenure (including this very story).  I have all sorts of pointless trivia!

Anyhow this audiobook was quite good.  If you are on the go and want to relive the Target novels you once read (or, like me, experience them for the first time) you want be disappointed in this.  Beevers is a great narrator, and the audiobook reminded me just how entertaining the original Serial was. 

Doctor Who: The Day She Saved the Doctor - Audio BookBookmark and Share

Sunday, 18 February 2018 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Day She Saved The Doctor (audiobook) (Credit: Puffin)
Stories by Jacqueline Rayner, Jenny T Colgan,
Susan Calman and Dorothy Koomson
Read by Yasmin Page, Rachae Stirling,
Catrin Stewart and Pippa Bennett-Warner

Published by Puffin on 8th March 2018
Purchase the Book or Audiobook from Amazon

The Day She Saved The Doctor (Credit: Puffin)

This interesting take on Doctor Who includes four stories that are told from the point of view of the Doctor's companion, who in each of these cases are female. The collection is published quite handily on March 8th, which is International Woman's Day. Each story is written by a high profile, female author and read by an actress with ties to Doctor Who.


Story One - Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes
Written by Jacqueline Rayner. Read by Yasmin Paige.
"It's a snake. Great" - Sarah Jane Smith.
In this, the opening story of the four we find the fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith somewhere near Rome, at the height of the Roman Empire. While perusing a market they come across a woman who has quite literally just been struck blind. With the help of Sarah's finely honed investigative reporting skills, they discover that this isn't the first time this mystery blindness has struck, and rather mysteriously, the blindness only afflicts women.
As their investigation proceeds, it's not before long the Doctor is tied up and about to be slaughtered by a female cult - can Sarah Jane Smith save the day?
Jacqueline Raynor has a list of previous credits with Doctor Who that is VERY impressive, from
original novels, through to comics and Big Finish. This is probably why this story was my most anticipated of the set, especially as it featured my companion, Miss Sarah Jane Smith and my Doctor. Because of this, to say I was disappointed is sadly an understatement. 
The story is placed somewhere between The Brain of Morbius and The Hand of Fear, which doesn't leave a lot of space for it to fit in. Raynor's story deals with blindness and a female cult - which means there are a lot of similarities between this story, and The Brain of Morbius. Too many if I am honest, it all felt too familiar. I also struggled with Raynor's characterisations of my favourite TARDIS pairing. For me it didn't feel quite right.
Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes is read by Yasmin Paige, who played Maria Jackson in The Sarah Jane Adventures.  Unfortunately I found her narration very bland - which didn't help the weak story at all.
Story Two - Rose and the Snow Window 
Written by Jenny T Colgan. Read by Rachael Stirling.
"Ohhh! I will NEVER get tired of the TARDIS translation circuit." - Rose Tyler
The second story opens with the tenth Doctor and Rose playing cat and mouse with the International Space Station. They are looking for a time leak, and quickly find it in Toronto. Once they arrive in the Canadian city, they quickly find a tall building from where they have a better vantage point. The time leak is (rather handily) in the building opposite, where they can see a room that looks out of place from those surrounding it. This room looks bigger than it should be, and there is a roaring fireplace. The room is indeed out of place - by a couple of centuries. It belongs to a Russian aristocrat, Nikolai, and it's up to Rose to get into a corset, pop on a posh frock and enter the quantumly displaced room to find out exactly what is going on.
Jenny T Colgan (or J T Colgan, and also sometimes Jane Beaton) has written for Who before, and is also known for her romantic fiction. Which actually comes into play quite well here as there is definitely a spark between Rose and the enigmatic Russian aristocrat.
Colgan has great fun with the 'person out of time' concept, as we witness the pure joy and wonder Nikolai experiencing a 21st century warm shower for the first time. This also works the other way with the amusing imagery of a group of rather confused 21st century Canadian Mounties trapped in a snowy 19th Century Russia. Thankfully Colgan's characterisations of the tenth Doctor and Rose are absolutely spot on. The story is very fast paced, dashing between different time-zones faster than anyone could say 'time-anomaly'.
Rachael Stirling, who played Ada Gillyflower in The Crimson Horror, does a great job at reading Colgan's work, and throws herself eagerly into making a good impersonation of both Rose and the Doctor.
After the rather bland Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes, my faith in this new set of tales was well and truly restored.
Story Three - Clara and the Maze of Cui Palta
Written by Susan Calman. Read by Catrin Stewart
"Doctor, don't you think there is something strange about this place?" - Clara Oswald
Bored with her housekeeping duties Clara begs the eleventh Doctor to whisk her away to somewhere exciting, so he takes her to Cui Palta, where they find a colossal maze. As always, finding his curiosity hard to resist the Doctor leads them both into a maze, a maze that they discover seemingly has no solution. The pair are soon hopelessly lost and surrounded by the bones of those who previously wandered the maze's ever changing paths. The situation looks desperate indeed. 
Comedian, author, presenter, Doctor Who fan and sometime Strictly contestant Susan Calman's entry is a wonderfully breezy story that captures the pairing of the eleventh Doctor and Clara perfectly. If I had one complaint (and it is a small one), it would be that Clara sometimes falls into being the 'default' companion by saying things like "Look Doctor" a few too many times. Otherwise Clara and the Maze of Cui Palta is a lovely romp, lovingly written by a fan of the show.
This entry is read by Catrin Stewart, the Paternoster Gang's very own Jenny Flint, Catrin reads in a lovely bright and breezy way that perfectly suits this story.
Story Four - Bill and the Three Jackets
Written by Dorothy Koomson. Read by Pippa Bennett-Warner
“Time and Relative Dimensions in Space means....Life!" - Bill Potts
Bill has a hot date that she is VERY excited about. She wants to get herself a smart, new jacket for the occasion, and quickly finds a shop on the outskirts of Bristol centre that seems absolutely perfect. Inside, she finds a very helpful sales assistant named Ziggy. Bill picks three coats, but would love to see how they suit her, so Ziggy breaks the shop's strict 'no selfie' rule (they don’t want their designs stolen), and takes some polaroid pictures of Bill in the three different coats. Bill decides to go and get a coffee so she can ponder over which coat to buy, but strange things begin to happen. No one she knows now recognises her as Bill, plus there is an imposter in the TARDIS with her face. Can she convince the Doctor that she is the real Bill before she loses all of her own memories?
Dorothy Koomson is a contemporary author, originally from Ghana who has a dozen published novels to her name. Her entry into the Whoniverse is fast paced, claustrophobic, confident and sometimes quite frightening. It's a story of loss of identity and the fear of never getting it back. Bill and the Three Jackets has a lovely continuity with the series, especially proven when Bill employs the help of Lou - the 'chip girl' from the episode The Pilot. I enjoyed it immensely, enough for me to want to read more of Koomson's work. 
The story is very enthusiastically read by Pippa Bennett-Warner, her Who credit being that she starred as Saibra in season eight's Time Heist. Her impersonation of Bill is spot on. So much so that I had to check that it wasn't actually Pearl Mackie on reading duties.


Overall I felt that The Day She Saved the Doctor contained three very good original stories. It's odd for me that the story that I was looking forward to the most was the weakest, and the one I was least anticipating (Bill and the Three Coats) was my overall favourite.
The Day She Saved The Doctor is a highly recommended listen/ read. I have to be honest though, I'm not entirely sure that it is unique in the way it approaches it's story telling, as a lot stories featuring the Doctor are told from the companion's point of view.

This new entry into Who cannon though, is far more unique in introducing real female talent to a very male dominated world. There are around 500 'official' novels and novelisations that feature the Doctor. After a quick glance over the this very long list I found 30 by, or with input from female writers. Thats 6% - which is a truly shocking statistic.

Tenth Doctor Novels (BBC Audio)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 7 January 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Tenth Doctor Novels (Credit: BBC Audio)

Sting of the Zygons
Written By Stephen Cole,
Read By Reggie Yates

The Last Dodo
Written By Jacqueline Rayner, Read By Freema Agyeman

Wooden Heart
Written By Martin Day,
Read By Adjoah Andoh

Forever Autumn
Written By Mark Morris, Read By Will Thorp

Written By Mark Michalowski, Read By Freema Agyeman

Sick Building
Written By Paul Magrs, Read By Will Thorp

The Pirate Loop
By Simon Guerrier,
​Read By Freema Agyeman

Written By James Swallow, Read By Will Thorp

Released by BBC Worldwide Auguest 2017
Available from Amazon UK

BBC Worldwide have released this collection of Eight Abridged Audiobooks from the Tenth Doctor's line of Novels, all of which feature Martha Jones as the Companion. The stories themselves range from mediocre to just plain decent.  Nothing in the collection really jumped out at me.  The readings all all decent, particularly those read by Freema Agyeman and Will Thorp.  Adjoah Andoh did a decent job as well, but Reggie Yates lacked something in his reading...while others found a way to capture the Tenth Doctor's voice in some way (Agyeman being the best in my opinion), Yates just never found a tone that worked for me.  His approach seemed to just be talk faster, but he missed key elements of this Doctor's delivery that took me out of the story, and just thinking "oh but the Doctor would've said it like THAT," which made it much harder to get into the story. 

It didn't help Yates that he was saddled with one of the least interesting stories of the bunch. In Sting of the Zygons, The Doctor and Martha battle Zygons in the early 20th Century...imagine Zygons on Downton Abbey, only somehow that isn't fun.  The second story of the bunch is The Last Dodo, read by Agyeman, which was a definite improvement in terms of story and reading.  The Wooden Heart is another decent story, but again nothing too stellar is found within this collection.  I did enjoy the Halloween themes and monster in Forever Autmn as well as the adventure with the sentient otters that is WetworldSick Building had some decent ideas, but the story is decidedly average. Peacemaker is another average adventure, this time with the backdrop of the old west, though I do think it got better as it went along.  This particular audiobook does show off some of the vocal range of Will Thorp, who does a lot of different Amercian accents. 

The one story that really jumped out at me was The Pirate Loop. Read by Agyeman, it has neat time travel mechanics, intriguing mysteries, unique storytelling devices, and Space Pirates who look like humanoid badgers.  What's not to love in all that?  Of all the stories, it seems the most memorable,  the only one I will probably continue to think of from time to time. 

Ultimately, this wasn't that impressive a set of stories.  There was nothing that was too bad, but everything was just middle of the road. A little bland. As someone who had not read any of the BBC original novels, these abridged audiobooks were sort of like a sampling of them...and it left me uninterested in reading more.  Because of the ongoing series, there is (or at the very least was) probably a lot of rules for what they could and couldn't do in the novels.  As such I think you end up with a fairly bland output of stories, things that certainly work as Doctor Who, but because of restrictions from the show itself take some of the edge out.  It could be that sme of the spark gets lost in the abridged nature of the audiobooks, or it could be the readings themselves weren't to my liking. For the most part, anything read by Thorp and (especially) Agyeman were more entertaining to listen to, but I can't say this was the most entertaining set of audiobooks. For collectors only, I would suggest just checking out either the audiobook of the prose version of The Pirate Loop, instead of going for the whole boxset.

Doctor Who - The Eleventh Doctor Adventures - Vol 6: The Malignant TruthBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 6 December 2017 - Reviewed by Damian Christie

Written by Si Spurrier & Rob Williams
Illustrated by Simon Fraser, INJ Culbard,
Gary Caldwell & Marcio Menys
Titan Books, 2016
HB ISBN: 9781785857300
SB ISBN: 9781785860935

Previously ...

The Squire is dead. Alice Obiefune is lost in the Time War, having piloted the Master's wounded
TARDIS back through the Time Lock. River Song's life hangs in the balance. And infamous Dalek Killer and bounty hunter Abslom Daak is almost certainly going to kill the Doctor for letting Alice go.
Now it's time for the Time War to give up its answers.
How was the Malignant created? Who killed the Overcaste? What great crime was the Doctor
responsible for? But will they be the answers that Alice - and the Doctor - want to hear?

The Malignant Truth is the concluding book which collects issues 11 through 15 of Titan Comics'
Second-year story arc for the Eleventh Doctor (as formerly played on TV by Matt Smith). The Doctor
has been blamed for killing the gods - or at least hyper-dimensional beings worshipped as gods - of
an entire species during the chaos of the Time War. It's a "crime" the Doctor doesn't even recall but
that's no excuse for the godless Overcaste who send bounty hunters after the Doctor, Alice and the
TARDIS, including an anomalous being known only as the Then and Now and notorious Dalek Killer
Abslom Daak.
With an extended TARDIS crew in tow - comprising an unwilling Daak (whose dead, trophy wife
Taiyin is being held hostage within the bowels of the Doctor's erratic time machine), a mysterious
elderly woman who claims she was the Doctor's squire in the Time War, River Song (who has yet
again escaped the sanctity of the Stormcage), and an Alice plagued by a string of "future memories"
of the Time War - the Eleventh Doctor establishes that he, and not the Master, may indeed have
committed the atrocity of which he is accused. This prompts Alice to steal the Master's TARDIS in a
desperate bid to break through the Time Lock and seek to prove the Doctor's innocence or stop his
wartime incarnation from committing a heinous crime.
By far the most interesting aspect of this storyline is the comic's interpretation of the Time War. The
war itself was glimpsed only briefly on TV (The Day of the Doctor) but has been portrayed in Big
Finish's War Doctor saga, in prose such as George Mann's Engines of War, and in Titan's own Four
mini-series in 2015. Alice meets the War Doctor (as portrayed by the late, great Sir John Hurt
on TV), the younger Squire and an unexpected, dare I say "impish", version of the Master that will
astonish many readers (but could plausibly tie into Professor Yana's origins back in the 2007 episode
Utopia). A few other tropes from the Time War are also adopted within the story, including the
application of a Gallifreyan Psilent song box, another weapon from the Time Lords' arsenal, which is
very reminiscent in shape and size to the infamous Moment of The Day of the Doctor.
Alice also becomes a prisoner of the Volatix Cabal, a hitherto unknown faction of the Daleks that was hinted at in the chapter Downtime in Volume 5 (originally issue 8 of the Eleventh Doctor Year Two run) and are revealed in all their infamy here. In the Master's own words at the beginning of this volume, the Volatix Cabal are a "Dalek death cult of abominations, deliberately bred for disorder. Reviled by their own kind, tolerated only for the talent that no pure Dalek could possess. Creativity."
Certainly, in terms of style, the Cabal seemingly combine the concept of "spider Daleks" from the 1990s abortive US TV series with the covert zombified human agents that were glimpsed on TV in Asylum of the Daleks and The Time of the Doctor. But it is the Cabal's eerie, melodramatic and almost poetic dialogue and their proclivity for cannibalising the organic parts of other species (which is anathema to their regular counterparts) that makes this breed of Dalek quite sinister and creepy. Indeed, they encapsulate more of the body horror of the Tenth Planet-style Cybermen than the regular Daleks do.
In addition to the Volatix Cabal, Alice, along with the War Doctor and his colleagues, also encounters the Cyclors, the so-called "gods" of the Overcaste. Intriguingly, these "dimensional nomads" are recruited by the Volatix Cabal in a very similar fashion to the way that the enigmatic beings in Big Finish's War Doctor audio drama The Enigma Dimension are solicited by the regular Daleks.

While visually the Cyclors are well realised in the artwork, conceptually they are a disappointment. There is an implication that like the Enigma of the Big Finish drama, the Cyclors are almost naïve and immature, unskilled in the ways of the plane they are visiting. Yet unlike the Enigma, there also seems to be a malevolence and bloodthirst to the Cyclors (based on the new "sensation" the Volatix Cabal has offered them) that the book's scribes Si Spurrier and Rob Williams don't really elaborate on, aside from a throwaway line. Indeed, any threat they may pose to the War and Eleventh Doctors and their companions has all but vanished by the conclusion of the tale

In timey-wimey fashion, the story eventually returns to the "present day" as the Eleventh Doctor, with Alice's help, realises the awful truth and is virtually helpless to avert the triumphant return of the Volatix Cabal. Again, in a manner that is all too frequently criticised about the modern program by fans (especially during the Matt Smith era), key pieces seem to fall into place which enables the Doctor to seize a last-gasp victory from the almost certain jaws of defeat. At any rate, the tension and excitement that ought to be felt at this juncture in the story is lost because there is far too much exposition between the Doctor, Alice, the Squire and River Song about how they have managed to pull off the supposedly impossible victory.



For the most part, the characterisation and dialogue in this volume is consistent with the TV series.The Eleventh and War Doctors and, to a lesser extent, River Song (as portrayed by Alex Kingston on TV) are true to their on-screen personas, although River spends much of this book in stasis as she was infected by the Malignant entity in Vol 5.
The "pint-sized" version of the Master is as Machiavellian as his predecessors and successors, delighting in the moral dilemmas that the War Doctor encounters in the Time War (as it clearly makes them more alike, to the Doctor's disgust). Indeed, he's probably creepier than usual because physically and mentally he could easily be mistaken for an urchin.

What's particularly interesting about this portrayal is how much Spurrier and Williams reference Roger Delgado's Master throughout the whole Year Two story arc (rather than Anthony Ainley's version), even down to the interior of the renegade's TARDIS (which is the version first seen in The Time Monster, not the later black décor of Geoffrey Beevers' and Ainley's time machines). Perhaps this is just the authors' bias towards Delgado's incarnation, or perhaps the idea is to reinforce that despite his stature, this version of the Master still houses the sharp wit and intellect of the original (especially hinted at when Alice's time-sensitive imagination in one panel depicts the Master's original Delgado-esque features on his rascally form).
Abslom Daak's portrayal is true to the original one-dimensional character envisaged by the late Steve Moore and Steve Dillon, and is entirely predictable in his actions and motivations ("I got to smash a Dalek! I got to smash a Dalek!"). Daak's fate in this tale is entirely fitting - it gives him renewed purpose (after it seemed in Volume 5 that the disappearance of Daleks from the universe had made him redundant). Aside from inviting chuckles from the reader, the closing panel also raises the potential of a War Doctor mini-series. I suspect the pairing of the Doctor's wartime incarnation with the Dalek Killer - chalk and cheese multiplied by a factor of 10! - would be short-lived but it could make for great storytelling over five or six issues.

The true hero of the story is undoubtedly Alice who literally leaps through hell and back to prove the Doctor's innocence, little realising that she has been manipulated by the Doctor himself. ("You proved you weren't a manipulative, reckless abomination by being manipulative and reckless?" she asks him angrily when she learns the truth.) Nevertheless, Alice proves herself to be a compassionate, faithful, selfless and courageous companion, someone worthy of the Doctor's company, even if he makes her feel otherwise. There is no reason why she couldn't become one of the Doctor's most memorable comic strip companions (after the legendary Frobisher, of course!).The Cyclors look impressive on paper but are otherwise a disappointment.
The artwork in this volume is shared between INJ Culbard and Simon Fraser, with Marcio Menys and Gary Caldwel providing the colours. Comic artwork is, of course, a form of shorthand, so it's no surprise that established characters like the War Doctor seem more caricatured than some of the original characters. The artists, though, seem to struggle with capturing Matt Smith's youthful appearance; the Eleventh Doctor, particularly in the climactic scenes in the Overcaste's arena, lacks the defined features that made Matt Smith's appearance (eg the high forehead, the chin) seem so outlandish and extra-terrestrial. Fortunately, the artists provide a good rendering of Smith's features in close-up panels of the Eleventh Doctor.
The placement of Menys and Caldwel's colours are also interesting. Predominantly they use darker shades in the background with splashes of colour in the foreground. This is arguably most visible in the Time War scenes, whereby Alice's purple ensemble adds colour to the grey, drab features of the War Doctor and some of the other characters. Similarly, in the final showdown in the arena, the Doctor and his companions are of a brighter palette than their drab, grey surroundings and the Overcaste that are trying to convict them.
Overall, The Malignant Truth is an example of Doctor Who comics at their best - at least certainly within the Titan stable. Not only this volume but the entire 15-part Eleventh Doctor Year Two arc overall has been highly entertaining, creative and intriguing. Aspects of the story aren't perfect, to be sure (and some of it will no doubt be redundant after the release of BF's War Master boxset this month). It's a bold move for any comic book publisher to run an arc that is effectively 15 months long and could effectively lose readers and deter others. Yet Titan, through a great writing team and some talented artists and colourists, makes it work almost effortlessly.

Now, Titan, about that War Doctor/Dalek Killer Time War team-up ... In memory of the late Steve Moore, let's make it happen! :)

My thanks to Martin Hudecek for the opportunity to review this volume.