The Third Doctor - #2 - The Heralds Of Destruction Part TwoBookmark and Share

Sunday, 1 January 2017 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Doctor Who: Third Doctor #2 (Credit: Titan)
Writer - Paul Cornell
Artist - Christopher Jones
Colorist - Hi-Fi

Letters  - Richard Starkings + Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

(Alastair Lethbidge Stewart -
Created By Mervyn Haisman + Henry Lincoln,
appearing courtesy of Candy Jar Books --
with thanks to Hannah Haisman, Henry Lincoln,
and Andy Frankham-Allen)

 Editor - John Freeman

Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton + Amoona Saohin

Senior Designer - Andrew Leung

Published October 12th 2016, TITAN COMICS

The Third Doctor and Jo return to the lab in UNIT HQ, where the TARDIS Is housed, and discover an unexpected visitor - none other than the Doctor's last incarnation, complete with a dark mop of hair and chequered trousers. Jo is delighted to see the other Doctor who was so kind to her during their ordeal in Omega's universe. The 'of-his-time' Doctor, however, was hoping such an exceptional event, and one needing him to cross his own time stream, would indeed remain rare. But the Second Doctor, in typically buoyant mood, assures his friends that he was again sent by the Time Lords, and in this case to help with the robotic entities threatening Earth.

Some of UNIT's forces are holding the invaders at bay with a makeshift, passable force field. Suddenly the Brigadier, overseeing the defences, is visited by a 'General Mayhew' who is coming across just a little more familiar than he should. Lethbridge-Stewart quickly unmasks the visitor, as none other than the Master. But is the evil renegade Time Lord to blame for the events that are occurring?

As the two Doctors try to solve the mystery of the 'micro machines', Miss Grant is suddenly attacked by the specimen that was retrieved. This forces the incumbent Doctor into having to perform a Gallifreyan mind meld and visit the inner psyche of Jo to both save her, and perhaps find a solution to the crisis at hand...


Paul Cornell continues to tell a story that is fun, amusing, and not entirely predictable, and yet there is homage aplenty to the much-loved Jon Pertwee era of the 'Classic' TV show.

The interplay of the Pertwee/ Troughton Doctors is hard to get wrong by even the weakest writer. In the hands of Cornell, this is thus a big plus point in a comic book teeming with positive attributes.

Of particular interest, is the way that these two regenerations of the title hero show their concern and affection for Jo Grant, in markedly different fashions. The Third Doctor is the protective patriarch, whilst his predecessor is the genial, funny uncle. Also well done is the Second Doctor's keenness to one day change his appearance, and be acquainted with Jo properly. This is a nice echo of a scene towards the end of The Three Doctors, where the 'present'  Doctor acknowledges how he used to be rather "sweet".

The actual main threat of the 'Heralds' does slow to a crawl, after the perils of Issue One. However, given there are three more instalments in the mini-series to follow, this is more than acceptable.

Art from Christopher Jones remains at a high level, and is both authentic in evoking the many stories of the Third Doctor and UNIT, but also having its own confident style. I enjoyed the way the Master's disguise was all too obvious on several occasions. This surely is a knowing homage to when either the Master removed the mock-up 'face' of someone he was impersonating, or (more memorably) when a character he was able to hypnotise had the false face of the bearded renegade Time Lord.

And Cornell is clever enough to have this apparent joke turned on its head, in an action scene which really needs to be read/seen to be appreciated properly, and which is my personal highlight of a sterling second instalment in the mini series.

The main characters of the (early 1970s) TV shows really feel just as we knew and loved them. Any newcomers will want to see some of the Pertwee stories based on the vitality of the players in this story. And the art stands on its own feet such that many readers will want to come back to look at the comic, just for its visual dimensions. Hi-Fi has made many of these Titan comics breathe full life, but deserves particular praise for the final product of this mini-series.


BONUS FEATURES:

Two separate pages at the latter end of the comic book show Jones' pencils at an earlier stage before the colour process took hold. One is devoted to the Master and the Brigadier, and the other for the Two Doctors and Jo.                                                                                                                    

There are also main/alternate cover variants for both the current issue, and the upcoming one as well. Issue Two also has full page cover variants separately. 





The Eleventh Doctor (Year Two) #10 - First RuleBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 28 December 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
ELEVENTH DOCTOR #2.10

 Writer - Rob Williams, Artist - Simon Fraser
Colorist - Gary Caldwell

[Abslom Daak created by Steve Moore + Steve Dillon, appearing courtesy of Panini Comics, with thanks to Doctor Who Magazine]

Letterer - Richard Starkings + Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt

Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton + 
Amoona Saohin
Senior Editor - Andrew James 
Designer - Rob Farme


COVER A - DAN BOULTWOOD
Released June 8th 2016

"Of course I knew! I'm not you, Daak! I actually think! I think a lot! I am very, very, very smart! Why else do you think I kept you around! Not for your witty repartee. I had something specific in mind for you. You had to be her bodyguard."

The Doctor chastising Daak for failing to protect Alice.


 

'The Then And The Now ' could not be stopped forever, and at some point in its pursuit was going to cause serious damage. The badly injured Squire lies prone in the clutches of the TARDIS Robo-med, with the Doctor desperate to save the aged warrior's life. And all Abslom Daak can do is speak up and find his Time Lord 'ally' in far from his usual convivial mood.

 

Meanwhile Alice is abroad the diseased TARDIS belonging to the Doctor's nemesis, the Master. She is aware of the importance of getting to a point in the Time War that will solve the current threat hanging over the Doctor. A mysterious amorphous entity may be the key to her accomplishing her mission.


 

This tenth issue in the intricate, broad Year 2 arc skilfully manages two parallel storylines, such that both grip in equal manner, but for different reasons.

The artwork, colours and panelling variety all operate well together, and the issue overall culminates triumphantly with a 'double whammy' cliff hanger.

Alice is being given supremely worthwhile character development, in a plot thread that shows that whilst the Doctor is key to any story, it is not always wrong if his assistant - or, in the case of this run of stories, team -  are vital in finding some kind of resolution to the problem at hand.

We also see a Doctor struggling to accept that Alice is having to fend for herself in some corner of the sprawling mess of chaos that is the Time War. And this was down to his own machinations, except that his plan involved Daak being there to help the rather benign and weapon less Alice. At one point the Doctor shows a dark fury which is welcome, given how sometimes - and certainly in my view - this particular incarnation is overtly clownish.

Further, the Squire's fate hangs in the balance this issue, and it is tribute to the fine work of Rob Williams, (with support from alternate writer Si Spurrier), that readers will be concerned over this potential tragedy. The character is decidedly offbeat and has not appeared in either TV show or legendary comic strips of yester year (as with Daak). Yet it still feels vital that the Doctor can 'pull a rabbit out of the hat'.

In sum then, the arc continues to astound and delight in equal measure, despite entering some rather grim settings and thematic backdrops.


The reviews for the Eleventh Doctor Titan comics will return with a look at the 'collected edition' of the next sequence of issues. So watch this space (!)





Ninth Doctor Issue 3 - Doctormania (Conclusion)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 26 November 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
DOCTOR WHO: THE NINTH DOCTOR #3 - Cover B (Credit: Titan)
"Doctormania - Part 3 of 3"

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 29 June 2016 - Titan Comics

On the planet Clix, Rose Tyler has gone from kidnapper to game changer in the blink of an eye, having exposed a ploy to use the Doctor's likeness by one of a rogue Slitheen group.

However now both Rose and her former captor Slist are made to run for their lives in a jungle with predatory Jinglatheen in keen pursuit.  And as a conspiracy truly begins to manifest itself, the Doctor will need his trademark ingenuity and wits to quash it before a brutal civil war fully takes form.


 

My concerns from previous reviews as to how this monthly series' art will hold up are now beginning to recede, as the visual side of things stands up quite well here. Various emotions are conveyed authentically and vividly, be they for the protagonists that Who fans have come to know so well, or for the humanoid and non-humanoid guest characters. Some of the more frightening elements, such as the effect of acid rain are not as relentless as they might be. This is likely paying respect to the original TV show/ source material. It is also clear at this point how much Adriana Melo enjoys using the broad canvass of situations that this particular fictional universe can offer her.

Cavan Scott's work in keeping the reader gripped in both the story and the fates of the characters is as effective as ever. Rose is once again portrayed as likable and caring, which fits her Series One character to a tee. Many human companions of the Doctor would harbour a grudge for being kidnapped by an alien who has some malignant intentions in their wider schemes, but when the Slitheen in question becomes a victim, Rose is steadfast in fighting the corner for a former foe.

Jack gets some decent moments at times, and it is notable that he is still a bit shallow and brusque as he yet to go through the humility process of his endless 'resurrection' status. The Doctor does however seem to be rather more comfortable with him at this point, and this is part of Scott's intended use of this comic to bridge the gap between The Doctor Dances and Boom Town, so the camaraderie viewers suddenly saw amongst that trio will now be that bit more organic.

Some nice wider continuity or canon links feature at times without being too ostentatious. I especially enjoyed the mention by the Doctor of the Shadow Proclamation, in a way that highlighted that whilst a do-gooder, he was never one for being part of the establishment.

 

Whilst the key storyline is on a rather epic scale with the unity of a system hanging in the balance, and the threat of acid rain is a grim one, there is still a welcome amount of humour or self-awareness. And I feel this is quite appropriate for a story featuring the Slitheen. I enjoyed the reversal of how these ruthless clawed creatures manage to fit into their victims' skins. The rather macabre concept instead now has a fun counter side to it, as the Doctor and Jack impersonate natives so as to go incognito. And later on, there is a comical moment as the Doctor tries to tame a beast in the manner of a cowboy on his horse.

It is also a plus point to have some use of the TARDIS in this story which is  other than just having it as a gateway from one story to the next. The main villain gets their comeuppance thanks to the Doctor's confidence in manoeuvring his ship's location and time setting .The final closing panel of this issue also highlights how the Doctor can sometimes meet people out of order (such as when Tennant's Doctor did with Queen Elizabeth).

 

In a nutshell then, this is a quite satisfying closer. Perhaps the two issues would have been enough for the storyline to have pace and twists in abundance, but it is great to catch up with one of the best TARDIS teams, and now know there will be more perils for them to negotiate on a regular basis.

And what a nice hook into the next ensuing story, with Mickey Smith ringing the console room telephone (and also distracting the Doctor from a worrying mystery). However this is a Mickey that is clearly somewhat more mature and battle-hardened than the clownish figure that assisted the Ninth Doctor on a semi-regular basis. Will all their be a happy reunion then, or is such an occasion best avoided? Issue Four will certainly offer a number of answers..


 

EXTRAS:

Readers are granted a (very welcome) 'behind the scenes' insight into how Scott, Melo and Lopes work together to plan the layout and look of a given portion of the issue. This not only highlights the dedication and thorough preparation that go into these comic books, but is sure to inspire new talent to take up the mantle of contributing to the comic book market and/or the Doctor Who phenomenon one day in the future.

A clutch of four different front covers also feature; being particularly diverting and vivacious for this edition.





The Eleventh Doctor (Year Two) #9 - Running To Stay StillBookmark and Share

Saturday, 8 October 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
ELEVENTH DOCTOR #2.9  (Credit: Titan)

   Writer - Si Spurrier
Artist - Leandro Casco
Colorist - Rodrigo Fernandes

[Abslom Daak created by Steve Moore + 
Steve Dillon, appearing courtesy of Panini Comics, 
with thanks to Doctor Who Magazine]

Letterer - Richard Starkings + Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt

Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton +
Amoona Saohin
Senior Editor - Andrew James
 Designer - Rob Farme

Main cover - Mark Wheatley

"What is it? Is it Daleks? Did you find the secret Daleks? Can we fight the secret Daleks now?!"

"No. it's... odd. Not good-odd or bad-odd, exactly, just... odd. There was tech here once. Left traces. Extremely sophisticated. As in: Godlike. As in: not Dalek"

Abslom Daak and the Doctor in conversation.

 

The pressure on the Doctor and his friends continues to intensify. Before long, the normally effervescent River Song is rendered comatose, and placed alongside the (long-dead) 'wife' of Daak. The efforts to find a solution see a visit to a planet named Sshh.  The Master's TARDIS continues to be a tool of great value, but also a symbol of despicability and ruthlessness.

Furthermore, Alice suffers a rush of memories, that she would normally care to forget. Another companion makes a return to the fray, and in thrilling fashion, but could be risking too much for too little reward.

And amidst it all the Doctor shows a side to him that is far darker and more chilling than a good number of the foes he has defeated over the millennia..  

 

The main point of interest in this latest instalment of the Year Two arc is just out of character the Doctor is, and how indifferent he is to the suffering of others around him. Whilst glimmers of this happened now and again over the five-decades-plus history of the parent TV show, this choice of characterisation truly stands out. We get a real sense of an anti-hero at work, but one with somewhat less charisma and belief in his actions as well.

The urgency of the plot is kept reasonably high by having the 'Then and the Now' entity around and in no mood to hold anything back. We also see an interesting exploration of the Daak/Alice dynamic which was not really made too much of in previous issues, as they try and take the role of the Doctor in coming up with a solution. Daak had generally been just as much a millstone around the TARDIS crew's neck as an asset, but truly comes good here. By contrast, the Doctor shows a rather feckless and passive side to himself, when a truly harrowing sequence of events occurs.

Somehow though, a generally intriguing core to the story is not enough to result in a satisfying end product. Whilst myself and other reviewers here find Titan material to be of a generally decent, if not excellent, standard month-in, month-out, I have to go against this consensus on this occasion. Certain patches are lacklustre and there is an uneven tone and a confused sense of what the creative team are trying to say. Spurrier has done some decent work before on this monthly series, mixing the character work with the action. But the unusual portrayal of most of the protagonists just does not quite feel organic and convincing enough.

To be fair though, there are steps made forward in the arc, and the danger that especially Alice and the Squire face are of significance. The final stages of this issue are gripping and shocking in equal measure. Plenty of readers will rush to the ensuing issue 10 wanting to know what will come of the various frenetic twists of fate. Overall however, this is the first true blip in a generally confident second year, for Matt Smith's incarnation in comic strip form.

 

EXTRAS (Alternate Covers/ Issue 10 Preview Covers):

At this point the bonus mini story or humour strip is something of a scarcity, and once again does not feature. Perhaps with the plethora of Who comics now being made, and even a Torchwood one to attract readers, a decision was made to fully showcase the talent of the artists who deliver worthy covers that reflect either the actual issue concerned, or the general spirit of the monthly series.





The Third Doctor - #1 - The Heralds Of Destruction Part One (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 2 October 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Third Doctor #1 (Credit: Titan)

Writer - Paul Cornell
Artist - Christopher Jones
Colorist - Hi-Fi

Letters  - Richard Starkings + Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

(Alastair Lethbidge Stewart - Created by Mervyn Haisman
+ Henry Lincoln, appearing courtesy of Candy Jar Books)

Senior Editor - Andrew James
Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton + Amoona Saohin
Senior Designer - Andrew Leung

Published September 14th 2016, TITAN COMICS

Newly released from the exile imposed by his own people - the Time Lords - the brilliant scientist Doctor John Smith is once again needed in order to help his friend Lethbridge Stewart and UNIT. A relentless, self-repairing metal menace has come to make life difficult for the natives of planet Earth, and that may be not be the only threat of consequence before too long.

 

Having had success with other Doctors from time past in the Eighth Doctor miniseries and, more recently, Fourth Doctor miniseries, Titan now unleashes another title. And how welcome that it features the undeniably charismatic Third Doctor, performed onscreen with such conviction by the late Jon Pertwee.

Paul Cornell knows exactly how to mix in the familiar elements which fans have come to know and love, but also add a sprinkling of his own creative skill to make something memorable and engaging. There is one returning foe, several returning secondary UNIT characters - Corporal Bell and Sergeant Osgood - and a key returning character who makes a sizeable impact in the customary end-of-issue cliffhanger.

The decision to set these new stories after The Three Doctors is a sound one, and potentially allows for Jo and the Doctor to go on travels across cosmos and time zones without yet another formulaic 'mission for the Time Lords' justification. It also allows for a properly fleshed out and well-knit 'UNIT family' - i.e. the Doctor and Jo, as well as the Brigadier, Captain Yates, and Sergeant Benton.

The art, from Christopher Jones, is a truly impressive selling point for this maiden issue, and earned the praise of Pertwee Era script-editor Terrance Dicks: "A handsomely-drawn epic". Key to having this miniseries work is a proper rendering of the Third Doctor, and this is certainly the case as we witness the 'James Bond/ Gentleman's Club' variant of our favourite Time Lord, as he goes about his heady business. Although the heavily stylised use of lines can be noticeable in the odd panel, the overall effect is compelling. Further, the use of palette, by the ever-reliable Hi-Fi, evokes with authentic impact the very first period of Doctor Who's history to feature full colour visuals.

 

The story undoubtedly will read well to old and new fans alike, with just the right balance of continuity and innovation. However, a certain clutch of early 1970s stories perhaps should be seen first, by those Who aficionados, who have tried little or none of the Classic era of the show. Not only will it add to the strengths of this particular adventure concocted in 2016, but it will be a reminder that the show was always able to deliver great acting and show initiative in trying markedly new things, both for science fiction and for TV in general.

Working splendidly both as set-up, and a showcase of incident and drama, also, this is a flying start to another promising new title from Titan.

 

EXTRAS :

* 'Behind the Scenes' Pencils and Inks are on display for one of the comic's most interesting panels, with the Doctor standing atop his car, Bessie.

* Three medium and full page-sized alternate covers feature, as well as two variant covers by Boo Cook and Andy Walker respectively.





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.








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