Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #1

Doctor Who The Thirteenth Doctor #1 Cover

There is a long history of comic-book tie-ins being poor-quality products. For every amazing series like Tom Taylor’s Injustice: Gods Among Us that perfectly captures and expands upon the world of the television series, movie or video game it is based upon, there are a dozen like Malibu Comics’ Street Fighter or the Family Guy comic from Devil’s Due Publishing that fail to exist as anything other than a cheap cash grab.

Thankfully, Titan Comics has avoided this since taking over the license for Doctor Who in 2014. The publisher created a number of series and mini-series set at different points in the story of Doctor Who, crafting a complex mythology that easily grafted onto that of the show. Now, one month after the start of the newest season, Titan has released the first issue of a new series based around the 13th incarnation of The Doctor.

At this point, a quick explanation may be needed, for those who don’t know the show.

Doctor Who centers around the adventures of The Doctor – an alien time-traveler who wanders the universe in an intelligent machine called a TARDIS – Time And Relative Dimension In Space. A natural hero at heart, who dislikes bullies and tyrants, The Doctor frequently engages in battles to help people in need, from lost children to oppressed societies. The Doctor also frequently adopts companions, who travel along with The Doctor and enjoy exploring the wonders of reality.

While The Doctor appears to be human, The Doctor possesses an amazing alien power to regenerate the body after moments of great stress or injury. When this happens, The Doctor’s physical form and personality will change, literally creating a whole new person with all The Doctor’s memories and knowledge. Currently on Incarnation Number 13, this is the first time (that we know of) that The Doctor has regenerated in a woman’s body.

The title page of the book explains all this and more, as well as introducing us to The Doctor’s current companions – aspiring mechanic Ryan, rookie cop Yasmin and retired bus-driver Graham. The action of this first issue is largely concerned with setting up a larger adventure, as The Doctor and friends encounter a mysterious portal and a figure seemingly stuck inside of it.

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Writer Jody Houser, best known for her work on Faith for Valiant Comics, Mother Panic for DC Comics and various Star Wars books for Marvel Comics, proves a perfect fit for telling a new series of tales for The Doctor. Houser knows how to spin a strange sci-fi yarn like few others and the story she starts here is an intriguing set-up that evokes the spirit of many a classic Doctor Who episode, in which we were introduced to a whole new world and new characters before The Doctor arrived to start stirring things up. The only point in which the script falters is that we don’t get much of a sense of personality from the companions, with the high-action quotient of the issue not allowing for the moments of introspection the show often takes.

The artwork, however, is simply astonishing. Rachel Stott was rightly acclaimed for her previous work on Titans’ other Doctor Who comics but has also worked on DC Bombshells and IDW’s Star Trek comics. Beyond capturing the likenesses of the actors from the show perfectly, Stott is a tremendous choreographer and the many moments of action in this book are well-blocked. The colors by Enrica Eren Angiolini are simply brilliant, perfectly chosen and guiding the eye easily as the story progresses.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan who has never read the comics, this is the perfect time to start. If you’re a comic book fan who never got into Doctor Who, this book will smoothly guide you into one of the greatest fictional universes in existence. Either way, this is one book newcomers and old fans alike are sure to enjoy.

9/10

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #1 releases on November 7, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #12

Doctor Who Twelfth Doctor Year Three #12 Cover

A lost and powerless cargo ship, trapped in a decaying orbit above a blazing sun. A crew slowly disappearing one by one. Numerous signs pointing to someone who shouldn’t be there living in the cargo bay.

Someone… or something?

It’s a typical mystery by The Doctor’s standards. The sort of thing he might knock-off as a warm-up before saving a planet or two. What makes this mystery unusual, however, is the wide number of potential suspects. The ship’s cargo includes 500 Heavenly Hosts – the angelic but easily corrupted service robots The Doctor once fought on the Starship Titanic. They aren’t the only angels on board, however, as the cargo bay is also hiding at least one Weeping Angel – the lonely assassins whose touch can send a target back in time!

As if things couldn’t get worse, The Doctor fell victim to the Weeping Angel and is now somewhere and somewhen else. Missy – the current female incarnation of The Doctor’s greatest enemy The Master – has stolen The TARDIS. And now Blon Fel-Fotch – a former enemy of The Doctor’s from Raxacoricofallapatorius – has arrived leading a platoon of the rhino-like mercenaries known as The Judoon. She claims to be working for The Shadow Proclamation now, but can she be trusted? And do Bill and Nardole really have a choice with at least one Weeping Angel still on the loose?


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Generally, I’ve enjoyed Titan Comics’ Doctor Who books and The Twelfth Doctor title in particular. Unfortunately, the quality took a recent nosedive in the wake of the current story arc, A Confusion of Angels. The first two parts of this storyline were plagued by artwork that seemed to be half-finished, with differing levels of detail and different thicknesses of inks used to depict characters in the same panel.

Artist Pasquale Qualano takes over with this issue, but proves to be equally lackluster in different ways. Most famous for his work on various titles in the Grimm Fairy Tales line, the only thing stopping Qualano from indulging in gratuitous cheesecake is the fact that there’s only one character (the ship’s engineer, who looks oddly like Zero Suit Samus) who has the proper proportions for such a thing and she’s barely in the issue. Mind you, that doesn’t stop Qualano from depicting Missy (of all people) in a suggestive pose!

This is small potatoes compared to Qualano’s other artistic failings. Panels are obviously and lazily recycled, with only a twitch of the lip distinguishing them. There are numerous perspective gaffes and oddly rendered panels where two scenes are separated by a close-up on a character’s face. There are dozens of just plain odd expressions that don’t match the action of the scene or the emotion indicated by the dialogue. Worst of all are the eyes, which seem to have been randomly drawn onto the characters without any sense of proportion to the rest of their faces!

This doesn’t do Richard Dinnick’s script any favors, but he’s far from delivering his best work either. The story here is far too busy, with too many threats to keep track of and the supporting characters largely having the personality of cardboard cut-outs even by the standards of the classic Doctor Who “base under siege” story. There’s too much peril in the plot to allow for time for establishing the cliche “trigger happy soldier” or “generic tough chick” personalities one would expect in this sort of story.

The only thing that makes this comic worth reading is the fact that Dinnick’s script has just enough clever ideas to make it worth muddling through the action sequences, despite the confusion generated by Qualano’s poor sense of blocking. Even then, only the most devout of Doctor Who fans who wanted to learn the fate of Blon Fel-Fotch after Boom Town will want to bother with this book.

4/10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #12 releases February 14, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13

Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year 3 #13 Cover

In the wake of the disappearance of The Time Lords, The Time Sentinels have set themselves up as the ultimate guardians of the space-time continuum. Under the guidance of the being they call The Lock Keeper, The Time Sentinels maintain a watchful eye upon the universe, ensuring that continuity and causality remains continuous.

One thing The Time Sentinels do not approve of is heroes getting in the way of their best laid plans and saving the worlds that good order dictates be vaporized into nothingness. As such, they are not fans of The Doctor, Last of The Time Lords, who would list “planet saver” in the Occupation blank of a job application if he were ever inclined to fill one out.

To that end, The Time Sentinels have kidnapped one of The Doctor’s current companions, artist Gabby Gonzales, as a means of luring him into a trap. When that, and setting up disaster after disaster as a means of getting The Doctor’s attention fail to work, The Time Sentinels arrange the boldest gambit yet – releasing The Circle of Transcendence  – an artifact of great power that The Doctor cannot possibly ignore!

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The only real flaw to Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor series is the same thing that makes it so enjoyable – an involved and involving storyline. In the three years since Titan Comics has taken over the Doctor Who license, writer Nick Abadis has crafted a unique mythology as rich as any to be found in the classic or current Doctor Who TV shows. This is both a blessing and a curse, because as thrilling as the on-going saga is to those who have been reading the series since the first issue, this series is completely impenetrable to the casual reader. Even the inclusion of a summary of the current storyline and profiles of The Doctor and his current companions on the title page does little to help new readers out.

This is a shame, because Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13 looks as amazing as it reads. Artist Giorgia Sposito and Colorist Arianna Florean have crafted one of the most amazing looking comic books, Doctor Who themed or otherwise, in recent memory. Sposito’s characters are all clearly drawn, with the largely female cast sporting a variety of body types and distinctive facial features. The aliens all possess interesting and unique designs. The action of the issue is paced well visually, with consistent angle-changes keeping even the scenes of characters just talking to one another from seeming static or boring. And the colors are all nice and eye-catching.

Technically there’s nothing to stop a Whovian who is curious about comics or a comic reader who wants to know what Doctor Who is all about from picking up this issue. It might be better, however, for them to start with the trade-paperback Revolutions of Terror – the first volume of The Tenth Doctor’s adventures. Another recent hardcover collection of The Tenth Doctor’s first year’s worth of adventures makes it easy for new readers to catch up on one of the best science-fiction comic books in recent years.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13 goes on sale on January 31, 2018.

8/10.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #8 (The Lost Dimension – Part 6)

All around the universe, in different places and different times, something has awoken. At first impossibly large white holes began to manifest, absorbing or annihilating everything unfortunate enough to encounter them. Now, the holes are smaller, leaking some sort of anti-energy which possesses the minds and bodies of anyone unfortunate enough to be struck by it… and the anti-energy has come to Earth!

The Doctor – currently employed as a professor at St. Luke’s University in Bristol – encountered this anti-energy as he was approached by his friends at UNIT regarding the current crisis. He was also approached by Jenny – a “daughter” of sorts, created from a mingling of human and Time Lord DNA during an earlier adventure – who sought out her “father” for help after an encounter with the anti-energy of her own in deep space.

With The Doctor’s assistant Nardole and student Bill in two, the four quickly take refugee inside The TARDIS… only to find another Doctor and his companions waiting for them!  A paradox of this magnitude can only occur under the most dire of circumstances and two heads are rarely better than one with the egotistical Doctor is forced to work with himself. How much worse can things get? And how many more Doctors are likely to show up to stop this invasion from a lost dimension?



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The odd thing about the Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension event thus far has been how well its individual chapters have stood on their own. This tends to be the exception rather than the rule with comic book crossovers, which are usually written in such a manner as to encourage (if not outright require) the reader to have been picking up every single related issue. The third chapter, for instance, focused on The Tenth Doctor being drawn into the action and the events of The Lost Dimension were made to fit naturally into the flow of the on-going story of The Tenth Doctor’s comic book.

With this sixth chapter, The Lost Dimension starts moving forward with its main plot and bringing the various Doctors together to tackle a crisis that threatens all of space and time. George Mann does a fantastic job capturing the voices of the various Doctors and companions – no surprise given Mann’s extensive experience writing Doctor Who in both novels, comics and radio plays! The only real fault with the story is that the companions get abandoned early on and basically shrug it off, literally saying they need to stay free in case The Doctors need rescuing later.

The artwork suffers from a similar sense of incongruity. Both Rachael Stott and Marcelo Salaza are fantastic artists and, individually, their pages look fantastic. There is a good deal of difference between their personal styles, however, and it’s somewhat jarring visually as the book shifts from one aesthetic to another. Still, those Whovians who have been reading the story to date will find a lot to love about this latest Twelfth Doctor comic.

8/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Torchwood: The Culling #1

Historically, the results are mixed when the actors involved in a franchised creative property decide to seek artistic fulfillment at the planning level. For every great director or writer discovered, there are twice as many hacks who forsake the usual tone of the series in order to build monuments to their and/or their character’s glory. For every Voyage Home, there is a Final Frontier.

Fan-favorite John Barrowman has thankfully proven to be more Nimoy than Shatner. Writing with his sister Carole E. Barrowman, the two have crafted a children’s book series (The Hollow Earth trilogy), an Arrow tie-in comic detailing the secret life of Malcolm Merlyn and a number of Torchwood tie-ins.

Torchwood: The Culling is the third of these Torchwood mini-series published by Titan Comics. Set immediately after the events of Torchwood: World Without End and Torchwood: Station Zero, the story also draws off the Torchwood novel Exodus Code as well as the short comic Captain Jack and The Selkie.

That sounds like a lot of back-story (and it is) but The Culling does a fantastic job of establishing itself without an overly-long explanation of what came before. A cast list at the start of the issue gives us all of the major players we need to know and the dialogue handles the rest of the exposition before we jump into the action with a sequence that seems to pay homage to the films of John Carpenter.

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Having just thwarted an attempt by the plant-based lifeforms known as The Vervoids to conquer the Earth, Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper – acting leaders of The Torchwood Institute – have returned to Torchwood House in Scotland to do a bit of cleaning-up. They’re shortly contacted by Captain John Hart – Jack’s ex-partner in every sense of the word – who has news regarding a Vervoid scheme Torchwood didn’t know about. Namely, that the Vervoids were trying to create a Human/Vervoid hybrid that could move undetected on Earth.

Most of the action of the comic concerns one of these hybrids, who somehow survived the destruction of Station Zero in the last Torchwood mini-series. The hybrid takes the name Sladen (A clear tribute to actress Elizabeth Sladen, who played the character of Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who) and sets about learning and evolving while running into another of Torchwood’s enemies who is out for revenge.

Dry as this synopsis may sound, the execution is top-notch. The Barrowmans fill the script with the sort of humor Torchwood fans have come to expect as well as the harder sort of science-fiction that informed the television series. Artist Neil Edwards does an equally fantastic job on the artwork, capturing the likenesses of the established actors perfectly and choreographing the action of the issue well.

The only respect in which the comic falters is that, accessible as it is to new readers, it’s still primarily aimed at those who have been keeping up with the story so far. Longtime Torchwood and Doctor Who fans will love it but newbies may feel like they’re not in on the joke.

8/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.