Writer: Robbie Morrison
Artist: Daniel Indro
Colorist: Slamet Mujiono
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: Andrew James
Assistant Editor: Kirsten Murray
Designer: Rob Farmer
"Only some of us made it down here, the majority were taken captive. The Hyperions have erected firewalls throughout the country, isolating entire cities and regions. The heat they generate is incredible. Get too close and you're incinerated immediately."
- Kate Lethbridge Stewart updating the Doctor and Clara.
'Out of the frying pan and into the fire' would sum up the troubles that the Twelfth Doctor and Clara must contend with, as this four-part story continues. It becomes clear just how much Earth has taken a toll from the vicious Hyperion race, and the Doctor must stress how the best form of defence is attack. UNIT does still have a presence, but they will rely on the Doctor's knowledge of this unique species. The Hyperion menace was such that it forced (the normally self-contained) Time Lords into an alliance with other races, including the Zygons, for the good of the wider cosmos and assorted time lines.
The guest characters in this story are somewhat unremarkable. We have the fire-fighter hero Sam who was introduced last time in a rather confusing manner. Although likeable, Sam seems rather generic, and lacks the wit that most proper companions of the Doctors pride themselves in. This is demonstrated in his half-believing the Doctor's casual 'order' of beheading the obnoxious politician Martyn Grove. Mr Grove believes with the main governmental cabinet gone, he should assume power, and also is trying to suggest a peaceful resolution with the Hyperions.
And of course such politicians are nothing new to the Who mythos. We had plenty of these self-serving figures during the Jon Pertwee TV era, by and large portrayed in broad comedic brushstrokes. Although Capaldi's portrayal has mellowed in his most recent series, this adventure was designed to be set between the 2014 and 2015 TV runs. As such it does hark back to the grouchy and dismissive Doctor we encountered along with a bewildered Ms Oswald. This persona indeed reminds one especially of the Third Doctor when in a bad mood with beings who cannot conceive half of his knowledge and experiences.
The Hyperions make a good combination of intelligent alien, and scary monster, however. They even have a slightly hyperbolic manner of speaking to one another. When one of them claims to have "immolated" our heroes, he is told "anything less would have resulted in [his] own execution". But soon enough it is clear the Doctor is unscathed, and yet there is no such final reprimand for Zraa-Korr.
All the same, these walking infernos are clearly a supremely powerful force. The effect of their attack on the UK and its capital is very reminiscent of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. And we are informed by the seething Doctor, that once Earth and its solar system are sucked dry, then there will be another doomed star system and another. Clearly a force to be reckoned with, this does justifies the Doctor's abruptness. He also has become accustomed to his Earth Presidential powers, which come into play courtesy of "internationally agreed protocols". It is nice to have a little humility, as the Doctor tries to limit power getting to his head. But he still will not discard his edgier persona, when events proceed to take another turn for the worse.
This leads me onto another point. Whilst the Doctor is desperate to save his most beloved planet, and also defeat a menace that long ago lost any positive trait, he has twice in these first two issues seemed blasé about collateral damage. In Issue 12 he used 'self defence' to deal with a slightly unbalanced scavenger, who had up till the invasion been another diligent medical student. The shove the Doctor opted for indirectly doomed that young man to the zombie hordes of the Scorched. Now in this issue, Clara (inadvertently) disrupts one of the Hyperion slave workers, and that person is blown to fiery smithereens. Just before that death, the Doctor throws a strop over Clara's carelessness, but in the manner of an alarm being triggered, more than anything. Of course, much of the excitement of Doctor Who has been that not everyone gets out alive, but this lack of concern for the individual affected, and simply the wider society smacks of a rather dispassionate TARDIS crew.
I also continue to find some of the art managing to evoke my less rosy memories of The Weeping Angels of Mons, which also had the same writing and art team of Morrison and Indro. Though that multi-parter with the Tenth Doctor delighted many, I myself was left at times stone cold. Whilst appropriate for the subject matter, a lot of the presentation of this new adventure verges on being an eyesore, with harsh character outlines, and a persistent red-brown-purple backdrop. Sometimes, the sizes chosen in a panel make defining features a little bit of an effort too. It almost would look better in black and white. If taking this style for what it is, the characters are done well enough when looking serious or anxious. Yet ironically their (rare) smiles and optimism just somehow fail to come off as particularly natural.
But overall we do have a decent epic forming. And the dialogue used would work admirably well in an actual TV story, or indeed a Big Finish play. The plot and the premise are difficult to execute poorly, and the need to know how the next two issues will resolve the big events must surely continue to offer some decent interest. It also is good to have such a different tone of story to the preceding one in Las Vegas; even if that one was more satisfying to my tastes. Year One of the Twelfth Doctor comic sequence draws to a close, and does so by reaffirming that a grey-haired near-immortal man still cherishes a planet he was once exiled to, even if his spiky demeanour suggests otherwise.
A solitary variant cover is included. The new bonus strip of 'One! Two! Three! To Doomsday' must wait at least another issue.