The Comic Strip Adaptations: Vol 1Bookmark and Share

Monday, 29 April 2019 - Reviewed by Callum McKelvie
The Comic Strip Adaptations Volume 01 (Credit: Big Finish)
Adapted By: Alan Barnes
Director: Nicholas Briggs

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom)

First Released: SMarch 2019

Big Finish’s year of anniversary celebrations has many surprises in store, not least of which was the reveal of a special release for Doctors 4-8. For myself, the most anticipated of these releases was the Fourth Doctors ‘Comic Strip Adaptations’ which had been teased on and off for some time now. The two stories chosen, The Iron Legion and The Star Beast are both from early in the DWM strip and were written by British comics legends Pat Mills and John Wagner. As such, they introduced some of their trademark ‘zaniness’, into the strips which whilst still traditionally ‘doctor who-ish’ had a unique whimsical flare and ambitious scope that set them apart from the admittedly cheap looking Season 17 (which was on air when Doctor Who Weekly debuted). So what of these adaptations then? Coming from such a visual medium, are they able to capture the spirit of their trend-setting originals?

The Iron Legion is the first story in the set and I think it’s fair for me to confess that alongside End of the Line, Voyager, Oblivion and Children of the Revolution it’s my favourite DWM strip. Admittedly then, I was quite nervous about how this would translate to the audio medium. The strip itself is arguably one of the most visual in DWM’s entire run and the scale is beyond vast. Alan Barnes adapts both these stories and given his history with both DWM and British comics, in general, is well placed to do so. With The Iron Legion, in particular, he keeps the main structure and set pieces of the original strip, whilst adding several new but not intrusive elements (which I wont spoil here). The result is this adaptation feels very much like a retelling of the comic original, but introduces enough to make it interesting enough to anyone who is familiar with that story. Toby Longworth and Brian Protheroe excel in their roles as Vesuvias and Ironicus respectively, the latter in particular capturing the character exactly as I imagined he sounded when I fist read the strip.

Of course, any adaptations of the Fourth Doctors DWM strip would have to include a version of The Star Beast which introduced Beep the Meep to the world of Doctor Who. Again Alan Barnes script sticks close to the original story but differs enough to keep it interesting. One particularly pleasing element kept from the strip version is the quirky natures of the humour given to the Doctor, with dialogue being taken directly from the strip itself. Tom Baker in particular, seems to enjoy this quirky and more off-the-wall version of his character (which is saying something) and he gives two intoxicating performances across the set. Rhianne Starbuck is equally wonderful as Sharon and the pair have great chemistry throughout this story. Of course, the real ‘star’ of Star Beast is of course Beep the Meep, played wonderfully by Bethan Dixon Bate. It’s a wonderfully funny and genuinely creepy performance, one that does great justice to such a well-established character.

The Comic Strip Adapations has proven to be a great success and they deserve all the recognition they can get, as the task of adapting two popular and incredibly visual stories for the audio medium must have been incredibly vast. One thing that really comes through with these two audio dramas is just how fun they are. Everybody, from Alan Barnes to Tom Baker to the sound designers, seems to be having incredible fun bringing these two wild and wacky stories to life. They may not be to everyone’s taste, given just how off the wall they are! But I for one look forward to a possible Comic Strip Adaptations Two and of course the four series of Beep the Meep box sets that must surely be around the corner…






Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #6 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #6 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Stott
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

31 Pages

Published by Titan Comic 10 April 2019

What I enjoyed about Issue 6 of the “Thirteenth Doctor” line from Titan Comics, is that it felt like it was going in one direction, but in the last few moments opened up to make this story bigger in an interesting way. Issue 5 had introduced us to a new setting, introduced a new guest character, and in the end the new monster of the week. It seemed like it was set up for a story in this setting.

Then this issue seemed to wrap it up. Sort of felt like a Doctor Who ending, monster defeated - onwards to the next adventure. But then our gang lands in another spot in history that the companions all know from the same podcast they learned about of the last era...and the same monsters are here...then some Time Agents show up.

When it was wrapping everything up, I initially thought "well this seems to be just a humdrum two-parter" and thought reviewing it might be hard, but that extra set up at the end gave me hope.  Our heroes are on a brand new adventure, one with more intriguing threads to follow than some monsters in the dark in a quiet wartorn village centuries ago.  Now there are the monsters, but also Time Agents, and a mysterious podcast which seems to be exploring the strange world s the TARDIS is now landing them in.

I thought the last issue was fine, but it had mostly been story set up, so it didn’t particularly grab me. This issue pushed it in a new direction, one that left me interested to see where it all leads.





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #5 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 6 March 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
DOCTOR WHO: THIRTEENTH DOCTOR #5 - Cover A (Credit: Titan )

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Stott
Colorist: Enrica Eren Angiolini & Tracy Bailey

26 Pages

Published by Titan Comics 6 March 2019

The fifth issue of the ongoing Thirteenth Doctor comic book from Titan begins a brand new adventure for the Doctor and the gang.  This time they land in a small village in 1500s Europe, during the Guelders Wars.  This isnt a period of history I am really familiar with, but no matter, there is an alien menace that gets involved!

****I try not to dive into too many details, but Spoilerphobic Folk Beware****

The village seems deserted, but they find one woman on the run, her name is Magda.  Through her they find that an army is apparently on the way, and accroding to rumors, they have the help of demons.  Demons implies Aliens to the TARDIS team, so they are ready to take them on.   And they eventually find a bunch of flesh eating monsters hiding away...so aliens confirmed!  And while she is beginning to talk to much, and alien bites the Doctor.  As cliffhangers go, this one is kind of lame, but there have been much worse in the long legacy of this franchise. 

This issue is all about the set up of the new storyline, and as such it is really all about building up our new setting introducing the current problems, introducing some the guest character, and eventually unveiling the monster of the story.  It can be difficult to review the first issue of a story.  It's like writing a review for the first 15 minutes of a movie.  Sure...I could say it's good or bad, but at the same time I have no idea where any of this is going, so how can I judge the story on the whole. 

What I can judge is that the writing of the characters is still top notch, and the art remains excellent.  As long as Houser and Stott are running this show, I will be satisfied to keep reading each and every issue. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #4 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 6 February 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who: Thirteenth Doctor #4 - Cover A (Credit: Titan )

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Stott
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

28 Pages

Published by Titan Comic 6 February 2019

The first storyline in the Titan Thirteenth Doctor comic line comes to a conclusion, bringing some closure to the story that began as far back as the "Road to the Thirteenth Doctor" mini-series.  As conclusions go, it is fairly straightforward and simple. I don't want to ruin it for anyone who may have yet to read it, so I will just say that it is a decent, if somewhat anti-climactic end, but should satisfy any fans who have been following the story thus far.  Spoilers from here on out!

Picking up where we left off, the Doctor and the gang fall down the tube and land in some kind of sewer or something, and find Perkins' time travel cohort. She explains that she trapped Perkins in the time vortex hoping to spare him the pain of their predicament.  They then release the prisoners of the hoarder, and the Doctor calls in some Time Agents and they go after the hoarder. He isn't down to give up so easily and attempts to escape using Perkins' Vortex Manipulator...and just as he did end up trapped in the vortex.  

As endings go, it is okay, but it felt like this story finally began to get somewhere interesting with the previous issue, and that is immediately solved here.  I can now evaluate the story on the whole, and I feel like it may have taken a tad too long to finally find an interesting path, and once it did, it closed up shop before really exploring that path.  

Still, it is a decent Doctor Who adventure and maybe reading it one go would be more entertaining than in briefer monthly instalments.  Overall I would say it seems the Titan Thirteenth line is in good hands. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #3 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #3 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Stott
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

33 Pages

Published by Titan Comics 19 December 2018

****These reviews may contain MINOR SPOILERS, Reader Beware****

The third installment of the Thirteenth Doctor ongoing comic from Titan Publishing fills in a bit more background for our guest character Perkins.  We begin with Perkins holding the gang hostage in the TARDIS, but he is easily thwarted by the state of grace nullifying his weapon.  He then fills them in on what he and Schultz had been up to, collecting all sorts of items for the alien being they called the Hoarder. It turns out part of what he wanted them to steal was alien children, to be held as hostages, and he at least claims to hold their own descendants hostage in order to keep them stealing for him.  

So the Doctor decides they have a new enemy to face off with, one that is not only stealing artifacts from all of history but has cages full of children as well.  They head out to try and find Dr. Schwartz and take on the hoarder, but are almost immediately caught in a trap with walls closing in on them.  Their only option of escape is to jump down a hole not knowing how far it actually goes down.  And that's our latest cliffhanger. 

I think despite a lack of action until the final pages (and even then the action was walls closing in on them), this was a solid installment.  I think the reason being that it helped develop the actual stakes our heroes are facing off with.  Bad guy has cages full of kids. Got it.  Before hand, it was vague energy beams and a shady guy who we didn't know much about making threats for reasons we didn't really know.  They weren't bad reads, but before now I can't say I was really invested in where the story was going.  Now I am.  That is probably the best praise I can give a single issue of a comic.  





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 11 December 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Thirteenth Doctor #3 - Cover A (Credit: Titan )

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Stott
Colorist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

38 Pages

Published by Titan Comics 21 November 2018

Titan Comic's second issue of the Thirteenth Doctor picks up where the first had ended, and sees the Doctor trying to stabilize the time trapped man, while a group of alien soldiers are closing in on them for arrest.  The Doctor quickly stabilizes the time trapped man while Yaz and Ryan distract the soldiers, but they are all soon arrested.  

 

****READER BEWARE - THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD****

 

While in a cell, the Doctor gets more info out of the guy from the time vortex, and he claims that it was an experiment that went wrong their first time using it.  But we get some flashbacks into how this guy ended up as some kind of a thief for an alien overlord at the same time. Soon the Doctor helps everyone escape the cell...and they find a room that gives hints of the army's world...there is a being called the judge and they are fighting some kind of a war, but they have little time for that now.  

As the soldiers close in on them, the Doctor uses the Sonic to call the TARDIS towards them and they escape...but our man lost in time (whose name is Perkins by the way), pulls a gun on them and plans to steal the TARDIS.  Cliffhanger!

It is very much the middle entry of a story.  It isn't introducing elements, and it isn't resolving them...but it doesn't plod along with padding or anything, and is a fairly enjoyable read with very good artwork.  I'm sure the quick notes about the alien race's culture, possible beliefs, and their war will come into play down the road, and we will see where Perkins time travel antics and thievery will unfold as the issues go on...but right now we clearly aren't that far into this story, and have no real ending. 

If you've been enjoying the latest series, as I honestly have, then it's a solid issue.  This line feels like a perfect companion piece to the latest series.  It is well paced and the artwork is terrific. Those fans that hold disdain for the latest series and the current incarnation of the Doctor, for whatever the reason, need not apply.  For others...this new comic series is shaping up nicely.