Writer - Si Spurrier
Artist - Leandro Casco
Colorist - Rodrigo Fernandes
[Abslom Daak created by Steve Moore +
Steve Dillon, appearing courtesy of Panini Comics,
with thanks to Doctor Who Magazine]
Letterer - Richard Starkings + Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton + Amoona Saohin
Senior Editor - Andrew James
Designer - Rob Farme
"What is it? Is it Daleks? Did you find the secret Daleks? Can we fight the secret Daleks now?!"
"No. it's... odd. Not good-odd or bad-odd, exactly, just... odd. There was tech here once. Left traces. Extremely sophisticated. As in: Godlike. As in: not Dalek"
Abslom Daak and the Doctor in conversation.
The pressure on the Doctor and his friends continues to intensify. Before long, the normally effervescent River Song is rendered comatose, and placed alongside the (long-dead) 'wife' of Daak. The efforts to find a solution see a visit to a planet named Sshh. The Master's TARDIS continues to be a tool of great value, but also a symbol of despicability and ruthlessness.
Furthermore, Alice suffers a rush of memories, that she would normally care to forget. Another companion makes a return to the fray, and in thrilling fashion, but could be risking too much for too little reward.
And amidst it all the Doctor shows a side to him that is far darker and more chilling than a good number of the foes he has defeated over the millennia..
The main point of interest in this latest instalment of the Year Two arc is just out of character the Doctor is, and how indifferent he is to the suffering of others around him. Whilst glimmers of this happened now and again over the five-decades-plus history of the parent TV show, this choice of characterisation truly stands out. We get a real sense of an anti-hero at work, but one with somewhat less charisma and belief in his actions as well.
The urgency of the plot is kept reasonably high by having the 'Then and the Now' entity around and in no mood to hold anything back. We also see an interesting exploration of the Daak/Alice dynamic which was not really made too much of in previous issues, as they try and take the role of the Doctor in coming up with a solution. Daak had generally been just as much a millstone around the TARDIS crew's neck as an asset, but truly comes good here. By contrast, the Doctor shows a rather feckless and passive side to himself, when a truly harrowing sequence of events occurs.
Somehow though, a generally intriguing core to the story is not enough to result in a satisfying end product. Whilst myself and other reviewers here find Titan material to be of a generally decent, if not excellent, standard month-in, month-out, I have to go against this consensus on this occasion. Certain patches are lacklustre and there is an uneven tone and a confused sense of what the creative team are trying to say. Spurrier has done some decent work before on this monthly series, mixing the character work with the action. But the unusual portrayal of most of the protagonists just does not quite feel organic and convincing enough.
To be fair though, there are steps made forward in the arc, and the danger that especially Alice and the Squire face are of significance. The final stages of this issue are gripping and shocking in equal measure. Plenty of readers will rush to the ensuing issue 10 wanting to know what will come of the various frenetic twists of fate. Overall however, this is the first true blip in a generally confident second year, for Matt Smith's incarnation in comic strip form.
EXTRAS (Alternate Covers/ Issue 10 Preview Covers):
At this point the bonus mini story or humour strip is something of a scarcity, and once again does not feature. Perhaps with the plethora of Who comics now being made, and even a Torchwood one to attract readers, a decision was made to fully showcase the talent of the artists who deliver worthy covers that reflect either the actual issue concerned, or the general spirit of the monthly series.