STORY - Robbie Morrison
ART - Brian Williamson, COLORS - Hi-Fi
LETTERS - Richard Starkings, Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
COVER - Blair Shedd, DESIGNER - Rob Farmer
EDITOR - Andrew James, ASSISTANT EDITOR - Kirsten Murray
PUBLISHER -Titan Comics - 2015
Mysteries and paranormal events are unleashed in this new arc for the current TARDIS crew. With a rather brutal enemy overcome, the way is open for the Doctor to grapple with a rather more elusive entity which has some pretty radical methods for achieving its goal. A goal whose exact nature remains to be seen.
With Coal Hill School once again in the foreground for the confrontations to come, as well as the presence of old allies ' UNIT', there is an element of 'been there, done that'. But will something nasty rear its head?
This story is as complex in its own way as 'Swords of Kali', but reads in a more immediately accessible way that is also less demanding of the general reader. It remains to be seen if the concluding sections work as well as the set up that is presented here.
Rather interestingly we join the Doctor and Clara as they contend with a very large but also rather stupid adversary who barely makes the duo break sweat in achieving victory. In the process the Judoon (one of the RTD era's best creations) get a name check but don't manage to actually appear.
The adventure proper for the duo then begins, although relevant events have already been presented to the reader in the story's initial pages which certainly set a mysterious and unpredictable tone.
This story notably picks up quite a while after issue 5's conclusion as Danny Pink has gone to the great place in the sky - both literally and metaphorically - following TV Series 8's finale.
Clara at this point in her life is truly enjoying her travels with the Scottish-accented Gallifreyan. Yet she wants another spell at the comfortable (by comparison) day job of teaching. Before the wish can be granted, they must both respond to a problem at UNIT where a reality gate has run amok. Paul Foster, who happens to be the late father of one of Clara's pupils, was killed in a car accident, but had been working on the projects with the gate; scientific work that the Doctor is very critical of as he once again meets Kate Stewart.
By having key Who settings and supporting players recur, this is really the first in this Twelfth Doctor range to reflect the general make-up of the TV series featuring the current Doctor and his companion.
Writer Robbie Morrison continues to impress me following his earlier work in the preceding set of issues. He is a great portrayer of individuals who have a certain identity and powerful emotions that flow from the trials and tribulations of their life choices. The key theme of loss and family ties is well conveyed and gives some weight to what could have potentially been a mere romp, - 'Swords' already set a standard for a lot of moving players but also telling more than just a plot heavy narrative. Hopefully Morrison maintains this quality for a good while yet.
Also welcome is some respite from the more outlandish settings and multiple time zones with the threat being focused on contemporary Earth, barring that rarely used practice of having a finale to a mostly un-told story.
I would rate, Brian Williamson, as a competent artist for the line, maybe favouring a rather literal style, with little of the quirks or artistic licence of some other contributors to other Doctor Who titles of late. Perhaps less commendable is the choice of limited colour -- the story jumps around more than enough here but the colours don't quite match this diversity.
Nonetheless any weaknesses almost get eliminated by the end as the actual cliffhanger with the major villains revealed is striking and memorable. At the very least I hope for this story to match 'TerrorFormer's quality on the basis of the potential so far displayed, if 'Swords of Kali's level would prove a step too far.
Bonus Comedic Strips:
"Sewer Monster" has a clever use of the Doctor and Clara in conversation but only one of them actually appearing. Yet another creature from the RTD era is brought back by writer/artist AJ, but perhaps not necessarily the most fearsome one, despite the piece's title.
"The Partying of the Ways" is also nostalgic, whilst managing to be very strong in its principal role as a comedic mini-story. It again shows the fruits of the Colin Bell/ Neil Slorance partnership. Clara's relationship with her centuries old friend is explored to an extent, whilst also organically growing out of the somewhat chaotic scenario they find themselves in.