Writer - Cavan Scott, Art + Colours - Blair Shedd
Letters: Richard Starkings/ Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Colour Flat Assist: Anang Setyawan
Designer - Rob Farmer, Editor - Andrew James
Assistant Editor - Kirsten Murray
Following the near catastrophic events abroad a war ship, there is more peril facing the TARDIS trio. Rose happens to be the most immediately in danger as she is exposed to the volatile Time Vortex. The Doctor races to save her, but appears too late. But help for the Londoner with a heart of gold may come from the most unlikely (and inky) of individuals.
However the bigger picture soon comes into play as the legacy of the Time War is felt. Super-weapons that were never meant for 'lower beings' than the Gallifrereans are available for the right price, which could have some cataclysmic results.
This is another splendid effort from all concerned once again; reading very well and never losing pace or incident as one page follows another. As one would hope there is an attempt to fit into the well-woven 'Bad Wolf' arc which Russell T Davies executed to a tee in the maiden series of modern Doctor Who.
The settings and way that the story is told alter somewhat as there is less violent action and instead some more picturesque imaging and emphasis on character growth. Yet we still get some more backstory for both the Time War and Captain Jack as well, and the mix of different ingredients is effective to say the least.
Superb characterization and dialogue makes this story really come to life. This is as much as a paper or electronic comic can fizz with energy.
It also feels like the Ecclestone incarnation of our heroic Time Lord is back to dominating the immediate action before us, albeit with all his foibles and volatile emotions. We gain some very pertinent insight into Captain Jack's exciting life as a time traveller, and even a time when he was young and green. His loud confidence and the Ninth Doctor's snappiness continue to be involving; the one being the perfect foil for the other.
Yet not only is there this uneasy relation between Jack and the Doctor, but also some sense of bonding. I feel this which is what this 'missing adventure' really should be offering fans - especially given the camaraderie that opened Boom Town (which felt very rushed when the initial stories first aired in 2005).
Rose's stoic reaction to what should be certain death is engaging, and her enforced employment for a squid/octopus-like alien is one of the most entertaining examples of Doctor Who's ability to mix people from different places and times and yet feel credible with something to say about society in real life.
Most of the guest characters are certainly not in the right morally but they are hardly villains either, forming a motley collection of arm-wheelers-and-dealers from every corner of the cosmos.
A perhaps shameless homage of Star Wars' Tatooine desert world manages to just about feel fresh, thanks to the use of an impending supernova plus a sun dominating the skyline. Of course such liberal borrowing of iconic sci-fi can also fall flat in Doctor Who, as the The Rings of Akhaten sadly proved.
Perhaps the overall arc is not being advanced as much as it can be, but later instalments will hopefully justify this creative decision by writer Cavan Scott. We are still left in some doubt just which major space power locked in war - the Lect or the Unon - will cause the most damage with munitions that belong back in the 'inaccessible' Time War. But still much impresses, not least the Doctor's attempted auction of one of his most prized assets. His companions reacting in panic to this is the comedic and dramatic highlight of this issue. The ensuing cliffhanger falls into place well enough but maybe without offering the 'gut-punch' that the best interruptions in Who stories manage.
Blair Shedd's work with art and predominant colours continues to be grandiose, and yet also intimate when needed. This is the calibre of art strong enough that any given panel would be worthy of being a screensaver or wallpaper. Both the regulars and the original characters get strong facial expressions which are pertinent to both the types of individuals they are, and the themes that connect them to the plot.
The management of foreground, middle ground and background is commendable also. This degree of composition reflects Scott's story needs and almost always comes off as effortlessly strong. Also, the use of the TARDIS and Time Vortex in the opening few pages is especially riveting and helpful in establishing the well-judged pace that makes this a very fine read.
My views then on this new addition to the Titan range then have not changed. It is the very best of a fine bunch, and I hope issue five will end up being instead the 'end of the beginning'.
Bonus Humour Strip:
Given some of the efforts we have been treated to in other editions, Hot Springs Eternal from AJ is just about worth a look. The overall joke would be funny to a total newcomer but otherwise makes the Ninth Doctor look like a buffoon. This is only meant to take place when he is attempting to look carefree, and not the lonely alien he is so conscious of being post-Time-War. This Doctor for me is meant to be full of gravitas when showing off his superior knowledge of space and time, and not just clumsy and headstrong.