Writer - George Mann
Artist - Emma Vieceli
Colorist - Hi-Fi
Letterer- Richard Starkings + Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Editor - Andrew James
Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton & Gabriela Houston
Designer - Rob Farmer
Released January 13th, Titan Comics
After their riveting and most risky escapades on an alien world, the Doctor and Josie have seemingly been able to relax a bit more, and explore the more sedate corners of time and space. Eventually the pair are in a good enough travelling state of mind to afford themselves some Victorian magic theatre. But soon the actual vanishing/reappearing mirror act on stage is revealed to be something far more disturbing. The time travellers must help not only some new friends, but indeed the wider population of Edinburgh, as an ultra confident showman aims to turn every soul into a servile puppet of his. And even the presence of the powerful Spherions cannot be totally escaped, as a make-shift solution is desperately sought..
This is one of the most handsome and confidently arranged comics on the visual front that I have had the pleasure to work my way through, and even outshines the best work on the Ninth and Eleventh Doctor ranges. A lot of detail is packed into each panel, and the character designs are done with the necessary thoroughness, and thus I never lost track of who was who, even with a decent number of players in the unfolding story. Emma Vieceli is a very capable artist, and I can only hope she has many more comic stories up her sleeve in the future. Once again female talent is being harnessed for the Doctor Who universe, and the intended recipients (in fans and the general public) are beneficiaries.
The official cover is full of excitement and colour. But despite it being another stunning way to attract a passer-by's attention, I must point out that its promise of the Doctor and Josie fighting their evil doubles is something which actually was never going to happen, given the scenario, and the rules of the magic mirrors involved.
Once again the Eighth Doctor is an arresting presence. As much as we can hope for, and certainly not expect , some form of TV outings for a strong actor like Paul McGann to feature in, the fact remains he had one of the most assured debut appearances of any Doctor. Therefore half the work is almost done for any given writer. But George Mann still puts a lot into adding that bit more of light and shade to this Doctor and giving him some memorable tasks to do. He shows a certain naivety in going along with the whole theatre/magic tricks scenario as long as he does, but there is always the chance that on some level he is anticipating the problem behind the ultra-perfection facade.
This is a very good outing for Josie as companion, making the most of what we knew before from her opening story, and making her more proactive throughout events than she was in Music of the Spherions. Her joie de vivre for the danger that is around the corner never extends into smugness, and her concern for others never quite erodes the sense that she is a self-sufficient and independent person.
Perhaps the main villain Silversmith is written in broad strokes, but he is still tremendously effervescent in persona, and almost charming. When the real version behind this illusionist is revealed, it is somewhat thought-provoking but also quite sad. There are no monsters as such involved in proceedings - unlike the first two titles in the mini-series - but we have a disturbing collection of assorted head and body parts, that seem to be able to exist purely for the dark designs of Silversmith.
The opener to this miniseries was a nice character piece, but almost a watered down version of The Eleventh Hour in having a localised threat. The second issue was much more grandiose, but had a somewhat predictable resolution. This effort however does well to mix the exciting ideas with a well thought out story which works very comfortably within the one issue format. The decision to make the overall arc tying these issues a bit more explicit is a wise one, and a multitude of questions will draw readers in for the upcoming fourth issue.
Extra Features - Making Of The Comic (Page One)
With some detailed notes, this example of the composition of a page in the comic proper shows the meticulous care which enables strong underlying foundation, and therefore a very good chance of a strong end product. Titan certainly want to offer value for those who seek out these mini-series, and most likely do so in addition to the regular lines with the last three modern TV Doctors, and this level of insight is commendable.