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.

Thirteenth Doctor Issue 1 Preview 1 Thirteenth Doctor Issue 1 Preview 2 Thirteenth Doctor Issue 1 Preview 3 Thirteenth Doctor Issue 1 Preview 4

(Click To View The Full Image In Another Window.)

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.

Titans Episode Review S01: E04

Titans is quickly becoming the television equivalent of potato chips; there’s no substance and it’s not very good for you, but it’s pretty tasty and I would definitely eat two family-sized bags in one sitting if DC let me. To that end, while Episode 4 of the series — titled “Doom Patrol” — is still good, it does feel like it somewhat wastes the momentum the show had coming out of Episode 3.

Jumping in, Rachel has just blown up a convent (subtle, eh?) that was holding her captive and is now running through its backyard-forest. Soon, she’s intercepted by Gar Logan, a.k.a. Beast Boy, who takes her to his home to hide out. It’s here where we’re introduced to a ragtag bunch of misfits who are hiding out to avoid persecution for their physical abnormalities. Those who know better will recognize these characters as Robotman, Negative Man, and Elastic Girl.

I really enjoyed the banter and lighter tone that this partial Doom Patrol lent to the episode, and I think Geoff Johns (the episode’s sole writer) did what he could to keep it enjoyable while very minimally pushing the narrative forward. And while, yes, there is very little of consequence that occurs throughout the hour-long run-time, I get why it had to happen this way. At least while nothing was happening, most of the dialogue (that wasn’t coming out of Dick Grayson’s mouth) was fun. It seems fairly obvious that the Doom Patrol series that’s slated for 2019 will most likely take a few cues from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films (honestly, what ensemble-driven media isn’t?), but hey, if it works — which in this case, it does — I say go for it.

Jokes and unlikely companions can only do so much, however, and that’s a lot of heavy lifting for, admittedly, fairly weak concepts. No matter how effective such tertiary details are, any problems with the primary events are going to somewhat overshadow them. That’s not to say that this episode is bad — far from it. It has a decently intriguing plot and it’s probably the best episode in terms of “pace” so far. However, much of it is just sort of “fluff”. Rachel feeling confident enough to voluntarily use her powers is certainly an interesting development, but that 30-second exchange is essentially the biggest take away from the episode until the VERY end. Even that ending borders on amounting to nothing because it’s something that anyone who has a passing understanding of the property, or even someone who has only ever seen Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, knows is going to happen at some point.

Additionally, the show-runners are going to have to come up with different things for Rachel to do other than the same thing she’s be doing for four episodes now. Her entire narrative up to this point can be summed up by this sequence: girl is upset and skeptical of new person, girl learns to trust, girl shows kindness despite being literally possessed by Evil incarnate, girl finds herself restrained or in a situation in which she must now use her dark powers, girl learns that maybe you shouldn’t trust EVERYONE. Lather, rinse, repeat. Thankfully, it does look like we’ll be switching gears starting in the next episode, but for the good of the show, this formula needs to go away for a very long time.

When it’s all said and done, however, I do think the show has finally hit its stride. While it’s not as bombastic and tense as the previous episode, Episode 4 is still very enjoyable even when nothing is really happening. As long as these chips keep tasting this good, I’ll keep stuffing my face.

7/ 10

Titans is released every Friday only on DCUniverse!

Titans Episode Review S01: E03

“Third time’s a charm,” or so they say, and the third episode of Titans, titled “Origins” makes a pretty solid argument in favor of that. DCUniverse’s premier “belle-of-the-ball” had a bit of a rocky start, but it seems to have, thankfully, begun its upswing. Episode 3 still has a few problems, but they’re minor and ultimately inconsequential.

In “Origins”, we pick up immediately where we left off at the end of Episode 2, with the fallout of The Nuclear Family’s attack on our heroes being the jumping point. From there, however, the show starts to dive into what seems to be the crux of the season, “Who is Rachel Roth?” While much of the info that we’re given isn’t exactly new for comic fans, it is nonetheless exciting to be exploring a central plot and committing to moving the story forward.

While it abandons the more focused lens that was present in Episode 2 in favor of returning to showcasing multiple team members, the direction doesn’t feel as hectic and scattered as it did in Episode 1 either. Nothing feels out of place or random, and transitions between characters are much more cohesive. This makes for a good pace and the episode never really feels like it’s dragging.

The last two episodes haven’t done much in terms of forward momentum, but Episode 3 really pushes the narrative; it’s very much a welcome relief to be moving away from thin exposition. Plot details come fast and characters feel fully realized, rather than the vague, one-note standees that they have been. Motivations make sense, reactions are understandable, and everyone finally takes a beat to somewhat digest the situation with the viewer.

Much of the plot movement can be attributed to Kory Anders (a.k.a. Starfire) being present in a more significant way and not just murdering some Russian thugs. Anna Diop’s off-kilter, amnesiac version of the character is a little strange at first, but the approach is different and promises something interesting for the future. In fact, all three of the main characters that are on display in Episode 3 (Beast Boy only makes a brief appearance, once again) are at their best in terms effectiveness. Dick gets the short end of the stick, but he does get some interesting flashbacks that further flesh out his childhood.

It’s not all perfect – the horrendous CG makes a return appearance and even somehow manages to be laughable this time around. Think Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which came out in 2001, and that’s the quality we’re getting now – with a new show – in 2018. The script is still tripping over itself as well, though the cringe-worthy dialog isn’t as prevalent as it has been. At some points, it actually seems to relish in the idea of being in so-bad-it’s-good territory, but overall, hits somewhere between “serviceable” and “inoffensive”.

None of this was bad enough to make me stop watching, however, or even make me stop enjoying myself. If the rest of Titans is at least the minimum quality that Episode 3 has established, there’s a lot to look forward to every Friday now.

8/10

Titans is released every Friday only on DCUniverse!

Comic Review – Hex Wives #1

Hex Wives #1 Cover

For generations, a war has been waged for the soul of America. On one side are The Architects – men of good faith (and only men), who have shaped the nation to establish a design they call The Natural Order. The other side has no name, being made up of a coven of witches, continually reborn across the ages of man, who use their blood magic to thwart the designs of The Architects, primarily by empowering other women to stand against their designs.

With their shadow war slowly being lost and their numbers dwindling, The Architects need a solution – one that will not result in the bloodshed that only serves to deplete their numbers and empower the witches. Thankfully, one Architect has a plan. One which will turn the witches’ own magic against them, and bind them and their power according to The Natural Order.

Much like how Vertigo Comics’ new series Border Town might be compared to Stranger Things, so too can Hex Wives be broadly compared to The Stepford Wives. Both stories share a common theme of women being forced into the role of a “domestic goddess” but in this case the impetus is magic rather than science. Ben Blacker’s script runs wild with this idea, where the wildest stereotypes about church-going conservative men and feminist lesbians are cranked up to 11 and every conspiracy theory about “what they really want” is true. In this, the story manages to balance the political aspects so that neither side is “the right one.”

Ignoring the social commentary, Hex Wives also works as a straight-forward horror story, from multiple angles. It is notable for putting a spin on series such as Charmed, presenting a less heroic group of witches who are, from their perspective, trying to save the world from The Patriarchy. The hell of it (pun intended) is they have a point in that The Architects are just as harmful in their manipulations of society as the witches are in their destruction of societal norms.

The artwork is, in a word, gorgeous. The pencils and inks of Mirka Andolfo (most recently seen on DC’s Bombshells, Ms. Marvel and Harley Quinn) prove a perfect complement to Blacker’s script. Andolfo draws beautiful, active women better than most and is skilled enough an artist to accurately depict the different scenes and costumes as we move through time from the first battle between The Architects and The Witches at Salem (of course) to their apparent final battle at the height of the Katrina flooding in 2005. The action sequences are all well-blocked and the colors of Marissa Louise leave a glow upon the page that makes it seem like actual light is pouring from the book during the many scenes that are lit by fire.

While it may not appeal to those who prefer their comics free of heavy subtext, those who enjoy a good supernatural ripping yarn and a bit of dark comedy will find Hex Wives #1 to be the perfect treat this Halloween. Once again, Vertigo Comics knocks it out of the park with one of their new revival series. Here’s hoping the rest of the new line continues along in this vein.

9/10

Hex Wives #1 releases on October 31, 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.

Exploring The Multiverse #007 – Board of Mapping

Episode #007 – Board of Mapping is RATED T for strong language.

In this episode Harvey meets with John Chambers and James Barefield about their Kickstarter project: Board of Mapping!

Board of Mapping is a non-premium mapping solution to tabletop role playing games for players that prefer not to play on the Theater of the Mind. It’s an amazing project with top notch quality art as well as craftsmanship. Granted these are still prototypes, but they are working on getting even better quality pieces made.

The operational goal for this project is to create a mapping solution that is immersive, interactive, quick to set up, and – best of all – affordable! Their financial goal is $7,500 which, at the time of posting this podcast, they have hit to the tune of $9,715. With 17 hours to go, they could still use some help getting more backers, which increases the money they can throw at the production side and further increases the quality of the final product.

But get on it, nerds. You have until about 5:30pm on Monday, October 29th, 2018 to back it. If you miss out, don’t worry, we will be carrying it in our store.

Connect with Board of Mapping online:
url: www.BoardOfMapping.com (currently goes to Kickstarter, but will soon go to their own site)
twitter: www.Twitter.com/BoardOfMapping
facebook: www.Facebook.com/BoardOfMapping

Connect with us online:
url: www.ExploreTheMultiverse.com
twitter: www.Twitter.com/MultiverseHurst
facebook: www.Facebook.com/ExploreTheMultiverse

Big thanks to Purple Planet for letting us use “Mass Mania.”
Music: www.purple-planet.com