The Betrothal of Sontar (Panini Graphic Novel)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 21 January 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Betrothal of Sontar (Credit: Panini)

Written by John Tomlinson, Nick Abadzis, Gareth Roberts, Tony Lee, Mike Collins, Jonathan Morris, Nev Fountain, & Alan Barnes

Artwork by Michael Collins, Martin Geraghty, & Roger Langridge

Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Panini UK LTD

From the looks of the first volume of Tenth Doctor strips, it seems some lessons may have been learned from the Ninth Doctor run. From the moment the Tenth Doctor walks out of the TARDIS he seems far more fully formed (which is incredible as the only episode to air before he debuted in the comic was the 2005 Christmas Special).  No longer feeling the shackles of the TV show as a hindrance, the strip almost immediately feels like just more adventures from the new show. They had a year of trying to figure out the tone and voice of the New Series, and just where exactly the strip fits into all of it. They spent well over a decade doing their own thing, quite successfully during the Eighth Doctor’s run I might add, that trying to fit in with the real show must have been quite the shock. 

It helped that they began to publish the more child-friendly "Doctor Who Adventures" comic separately, and that let them realize who the target audience for the main strip was, and had kind of always been. So the somewhat less mature and scattered tones of the Ninth Doctor strips was done away with, and they veered back into the tone and style they had during the Eighth Doctor days, at least closer to it. The Tenth Doctor's voice is fully captured, and the tone of his first year is there as well. But despite some bits that don’t work or gel for me, I found this Volume to be decidedly solid. The Tenth Doctor fees fully fleshed out from his first panel, and they capture the tone of the new show, and managing to recapture some of their own mojo that had been lost when the Ninth Doctor came in and threw them off their game.

The opening story featuring the Sontarans before their reintroduction on the new series is a cracker...with fantastic art, great characters, and even better atmosphere.  Both "F.A.Q." and "The Futurists" feel like the strip working back to some of it's former epics...but there are smaller fun stories as well, including Gareth Roberts' blueprint for the later Eleventh Doctor televised story The Lodger which features the same name and similar premise, but the Craig Owens role is instead played by Mickey Smith.  There's even a Brigadier story to close out the book, though it is kind of mediocre. But it does fill the gap between the departure of Rose and the entrance of Martha. 

While they still aren't really practicing in major arcs and epics again, the first Tenth Doctor volume brings back the confidence and spirit of the Doctor Who Magazine strip, which makes it a far more enjoyable read than the Ninth Doctor's run had been.   This book is a solid collection the first year or so of the Tenth Doctor's time in the strip, from his introduction to just before Martha joined up.  It's a fun read, with a good collection of stories within...it may be a tad hit or miss, but overall this is a definite uptick in quality from the short era of the Ninth Doctor in the pages of the magazine. 





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

Wetworld
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

Peacemaker
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 Tenth Doctor: Facing Fate Volume 2: Vortex ButterfliesBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 20 December 2017 - Reviewed by Dustin Pinney
The Tenth Doctor: Facing Fate Volume 2: Vortex Butterflies (Credit: Titan)
Writer: Nick Abadzis
Artist: Giorgia Sposito
Publisher: Titan Comics
112pp
On sale: December 19

Before sacrificing herself to save everyone, Dorothy (the hand of Sutekh) tells The Doctor to give Cindy and Gabby some room. “Stop making them chase through the universe after you all the time and let them understand where they are,” she says. She then advises he not abuse their trust in him. So The Doctor decides to provide them with a little perspective from the best source possible - Sarah Jane Smith.

    VORTEX BUTTERFLIES allows The Doctor’s friends to take a breath, reflect, do some soul-searching. The story serves as a much-needed repose for readers as well. After so much intensity, it’s nice to just sit with these characters a while and go through these issues alongside them.

Everyone has their own method of working through grief. Gabby is taking art classes, desperately trying to cope with the sight of her dead best friend, a hard thing to do even if it was only a clone. Cindy is embracing life in London, developing a bond with Sarah Jane, and attempting to understand why Gabby is so distant. Adorable Anubis is discovering love on Aramuko. The Doctor is off, as usual, doing his own thing and trying to cure the Tardis of a mysterious illness.

    Thanks to the magic of time travel in comic books, we’re able to revisit The Doctor’s most enduring companion. Including the wisdom of Sarah Jane Smith was a stroke of genius. Who better to to teach these girls how to embrace the moment than a woman who had seen so many wonders of the universe and had to build her own life afterward? Georgia Sposito’s likeness of the character is perfectly spot on, and Rick Abadzis so captures Sarah Jane’s voice that one could easily imagine the late Elisabeth Sladen speaking his words.

    Legacy is important in Doctor Who. Having the latest incarnation face-off against classic foes like Daleks and Cybermen gives the franchise a sense of unparalleled continuity. Seeing an old friend takes things to the next level. It reminds the audience, even if they understand this on an intellectual level, that the person in the long brown coat is the same as the one in the frilly shirts or extensive scarf. The Doctor is one individual with many faces, and all of the Whoniverse is one place.

    If WAR OF GODS is about choices and consequences, VORTEX BUTTERFLIES is about acceptance. Gabby and Cindy have to accept that their magical lives with The Doctor is dangerous and exciting, but it won’t last, and it’s important to not let their personal lives pass them by. The Doctor must accept that not looking back isn’t always an option. Sometimes you get so busy running away from something that if you don’t take a quick glance behind you, someone you love might be lost.

 




Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Year Three #11Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 2 December 2017 - Reviewed by Dustin Pinney
Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Year Three #11 (Credit: Titan)
Writer: Nick Abadzis
Artist: Giorgia Sposito
Publisher: Titan Comics
FC - 32pp
On sale: November 22, 2017

Why can’t the Doctor stay still? Like Sherlock Holmes, does the Time Lord’s mind begin to atrophy without constant, bewildering stimulation? Is that why the universe has become home, with all its random, confounding chaos and beauty? Or, is it because staying in one place means that somewhere out there, without the Doctor, disaster is allowed to fester unimpeded?

The Tenth Doctor Year Three #11 implies an answer to the Doctor’s restless nature through companion Cindy. While Gabby is learning to tame the destructive power within her, best friend Cindy is going stir crazy. As wonderful as Zhe’s private moon over Ouloumos is, there’s only so much impossibility one can witness before it becomes mundane.

She eggs the Doctor on, fishing for an admission of boredom. Sure there’s a busted robot to tinker with, but that isn’t an adventure. The Doctor should be out there saving planets while preventing the Tardis from being sucked into a black hole, and trying to resurrect a broken robot at the same time.

It’s the promise the Doctor made to Gabby that keeps them there. In one eventuality Gabby was abandoned and her loneliness turned her into the Vortex Butterfly. The Doctor can’t allow that to happen. Yet Cindy is right. Their stay has turned dull, and the pair dash off for a short trip to pick something up to help with the robot repairs. Here is when we, the Doctor, and Cindy, learn the consequences of staying put for too long.   

Giorgia Sposito’s art is delightful as always. It strikes the perfect balance between fun animation, and spot on reality. The artist includes just enough detail to give the world real depth, while leaving room for the imagination, turning the reader into an active participant in the storytelling.

The real strength in Abadzis’ writing is the character interplay, themes and story momentum. He allows characters to speak to each other like people. Cindy and Gabby are properly flawed and courageous. Scenes play out naturally, without the need of constant running and shouting exposition. When something big happens, as they do in the second half of issue 11, it is earned and not a desperate attempt to raise the stakes.

Like many of the Tenth Doctor comics, the plots are simple, easy to follow, and packed with the kind of jubilant energy you’d expect from the Tenth Doctor. Some of the details, however, are more complicated and tough to get a hold on. Gabby’s abilities seem to make sense, but how it all works is fairly elusive. Which is not a major problem, it’s just that so much time is devoted to discussing it that exactly what’s going on and how it’s affecting her is a tad muddled.

The short backup story this issue is an adorable return of Donna and the Adipose.

 




The Tenth Doctor Adventures - Volume Two (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 30 November 2017 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck

Written By: John Dorney, Guy Adams, Matt Fitton
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Featuring: David TennantBillie PiperCamille CoduriRosie CavalieroGuy Henry

Released Thursday 30th November 2017

David Tennant returns to Big Finish for a second round of audio adventures, this time bringing his first companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) along with him.  This is an iconic duo from the show, and having them back together is surely to be exciting for fans. 

The opening story (Infamy of the Zaross) also brings Camille Coduri back as Rose's mom, Jackie Tyler, who calls Rose and the Doctor back to Earth to deal with an alien invasion.  But this ends up being no ordinary invasion. I wont give it away, but I rather liked the twist on this episode. It had a lot of good social commentary, and felt not only like a great premise for Doctor Who, but also felt exactly like the kind of story that would fit perfectly within the period of Doctor Who this set revisits. 

The second episode in the boxset is The Sword of the Chevalier, which takes place in the past and featured the Doctor and Rose meeting the historical figure Chevalier d'Éon, a person I'd never heard of before but, after reading up on it, I find to be a fairly interesting tale.  It's a story that mixes humor and adventure well, and features a nice creepy alien threat as well. 

Cold Vengeance, the third and final story in the set is possibly the only letdown. It isn't necessarily a badly told tale...but it just feels generic, and features what is possibly one of my least favorite of the "classic" Doctor Who monsters - the Ice Warriors. I know that I am probably in the minority on this one, but the Ice Warriors just never felt particularly interesting to me.  And really, the only thing this final episode has going for it is that you get to hear the Tenth Doctor face off against them. There is really little else driving the story, at least nothing that felt fresh or new enough. 

Ultimately, this is a great set, well worth getting.  Tennant slips back into the Doctor like he never left the role, though I do think it took Piper a little longer to slip back into the voice of Rose.  But if you loved these two as a team, you should be thrilled to get this set. It feels like slipping back in time, to those early days of the shows revival.  Recommended!



Associated Products

Audio
Released 30 Nov -0001
The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Infamy of the Zaross (Doctor Who - The Tenth Doctor Adventures)


Associated Products

Audio
Out 28 February
The Tenth Doctor Adventures: The Sword of the Chevalier (Doctor Who - The Tenth Doctor Adventures: T


Associated Products

Audio
Released 28 Nov 2017
The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Cold Vengeance (Doctor Who - The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Cold Vengeanc




The Tenth Doctor Complete Year OneBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 21 November 2017 - Reviewed by Dustin Pinney
DOCTOR WHO: THE TENTH DOCTOR COMPLETE YEAR ONE (Credit: Titan Comics)

DOCTOR WHO: The Tenth Doctor Complete Year One
Writers: Nick Abadzis and Robbie Morrison
Artists: Elena Casagrande and Daniel Indro
Publisher: Titan Comics
368pp 
Published: November 21, 2017

Traveling around in time and space means the passage of time is not linear. Between The Doctor leaving your sight and his return, he could quite easily have had dozens of other adventures over a few hundred years and saved as many worlds. For the companion, nothing has changed. For the universe everything has.

This is a major contributing factor to the wealth of spin-off media taking place in the Whoniverse. The Doctor is not constrained by the same limitations of other massive franchises. His continuity is fluid. As long as the possibilities of time and space remain infinite, we will never run out of stories about The Doctor.

What happened after Doctor Ten left Donna? He battled Cybermen at Christmas, faced The Waters of Mars, and prevented The End of Time, before regenerating for (seemingly) the eleventh time, right? Well, he also met an idealistic dreamer named Gabby Gonzales, saved the world from a race of beings feeding on negative emotions, visited an art gallery of block transfer sculptures, fought the Weeping Angels on the battlefields of WWI, and stared down the son of Sukhteh. And that was just the FIRST year!

Titan Comics has collected the entire first year of their ongoing Tenth Doctor line in an omnibus called DOCTOR WHO: THE TENTH DOCTOR COMPLETE YEAR ONE. It features the writing talents of Nick Abadzis and Robbie Morrison, as well as showcasing the mastery of artists Elena Casagranda, Eleonora Carlini, and Daniel Indro. The creative teams assembled have come together to tell the kinds of stories that only comics can tell, and do so exceedingly well.

What comics offer that other mediums don’t is the ability to tell larger than life stories with a fast pace that resonate. Readers have the ability to pause on a specific panel, re-read a line of dialogue or caption, and allow it to sink in. Onomonopias may give you an idea of what a particular action sounds like, but the reader is the final arbiter of the minute details. Unlike novels, comics don’t need to stop the action cold in order to set the scene - you turn the cover and you’re there.

The artists here take full advantage of their lack of budgetary constraints to lay out mind-bending pages of alien worlds, cosmic monsters, and even a few easter eggs for a reader to take in with awe. We have scenes of The Doctor (whose likeness is at times impeccably captured, especially by Casagrande)opening Gabby’s eyes to beautiful, ethereal sea creatures in the sky, and the stuff of nightmares invading the minds and bodies of the innocent, goliath statues tearing through ancient alien castles, a tank running down a small army of Weeping Angels, the not-God Anubis looming over tiny Earth primitives on his golden pyramid spaceship, and so much more. This is the vision of the Whoniverse fully realized.

As writers, Abadzis and Morrison write a Doctor that is at once instantly recognizable and a little foreign to us. He is still hurting over the loss of his friend, Donna, dreading what he feels coming, yet still regarding the universe with joy. Despite his assurance that he can never bring another human into this life, he sees in Gabby Gonzales a need to see what he sees. Some part of him knows that he has no choice but to bring her along.

Gabby Gonzales is such a fun, likable, and capable companion that it’s hard to imagine that she never appeared in the show. We see how her life of duty to a hard-working family that has sacrificed everything to give her a future is strangling her and pray that The Doctor will take her to the stars. Once he does, her love of art, knowledge, and the impossible are infectious. What the writers have given us is a character worthy of the title companion.

The first year of The 10th Doctor’s ongoing adventures delivers everything Doctor Who stories require: danger, heart, humor, loss, and the promise of more to come, on a scale that television has yet to match.

 

Amazon Link