Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Review: Titan's DOCTOR WHO Comics ranges - June/July 2017

Titan Comics have been going great guns with their Doctor Who comics lines, with new stories, series, Doctors and specials arriving, it seems, every other week!  I have been sent a selection of the comics, and so here goes with a 'point in time' review of each of the ranges ...

The Twelfth Doctor - Ghost Stories - Part 3

Written by George Mann, art by Dannis Calero.  The cover also credits Dijjo Lima but there's nothing in the comic to explain what he/she did! (Previous issues credit them as colourist)

Ghost Stories is a four part special which follows on from the 2016 Christmas Special episode of Doctor Who, 'The Return of Doctor Mysterio'.  The Doctor in his Capaldi guise has teamed up with Grant (the superhero) and Lucy (the human) to find three more of the strange crystals which gave Grant his power ...

Now Grant has lost his powers, and he and the Doctor have been captured but the third missing crystal has been suppressing Grant's powers and subjugating the populace leaving some robotic brains in charge - all a little like an episode of 'The Keys of Marinus' to be honest - then, escaping from there, the Doctor runs into some Sycorax. Grant challenges them ... and while he fights, Lucy and her daughter Jennifer go to try and find the final stone ...

The art is nice and the story flows and there's a dual narrative: Lucy is telling us the story in small caption boxes while the action and dialogue takes place simultaneously. Oh, and the Sycorax remember the Doctor from his encounter with them in 'The Christmas Invasion' - maybe they weren't all blown to pieces after all.

Looking back at the first two issues, the art in #1 (by Ivan Rodriguez) is spectacular and this style continues in issue 2 (by Pasquale Qualano) but just before the end of issue 2, the art suffers a massive backwards step and becomes blocky and simplified, and this simplified style continues through issue 3. I much prefer the more complex visuals.

The Twelfth Doctor - Year Three - Issue 3.3, 3.4, 3.5

Written by George Mann, art by Mariano Laclaustra, colourists are Carlos Cabrera and Hernan Cabrera.

We're again in the middle of an adventure ... something to do with seaweed husks attacking the Doctor and companion Hattie.  The husks look more like green yeti than anything else ... and they attack a house and then capture and take the Doctor away under the water ...

This is a pretty exciting tale with lots of action, and the companion, Hattie, is a bald-headed, biker-jacket-wearing badass who is prone to psychic assault!  Interesting!

The final part of the story comes in issue 3.4: the green yeti were being sent by a trapped spacecraft under the sea which the Doctor and Hattie free with the power of punk music! I know ... very comic-land :)  But the underwater imagery and panel development are spectacular here. Really great artwork and storytelling without words.

Issue 3.5 starts a new story by Richard Dinnick, with art by Brian Williamson and colours by Hi-Fi. We're back in TV land as the twelfth Doctor is travelling with Bill Potts. A band of Vikings capture the Doctor and Bill. The Doctor realises that the Vikings saw a spacecraft land and so joins them to investigate ... and it's the Ice Warriors!!  And while it's not totally clear from this opening episode, it looks like it might be the Flood from Mars ('Waters of Mars') come to Earth too ...  Exciting stuff.

The art is great, and the Warriors are very nicely rendered, as are all the incidentals. A very nicely told opener.

The Eleventh Doctor - Year Three - Issue 3.5

Written by James Peaty, art by I N J Culbard, colours by Triona Farrell.

I think we're part way through a story here, though this issue appears to be a self contained adventure, and travelling with the eleventh Doctor is a girl called Alice, and a creature called the Sapling (a crystalline tree person), who seems to have been evil in earlier instalments, but who has now turned good.

The Doctor and Alice investigate something called The Devil's Eye, and encounter rampaging Ood ... it's a spaceship on the edge of a black hole (all seems very familiar). The reason is that a chap from Friends of the Ood has tried to free the creatures, but in doing so has driven them insane ... It's down to the Doctor to solve the problem with some gadgetry, and return all the Ood to the Oodsphere so they can sing their song.

The art is fairly simplistic and the page design somewhat standard ... I think I prefer the more imaginative page and panel designs, and certainly the more complex art.

The Tenth Doctor - Year Three - Issues 3.5, 3.6

Issue 3.5 contains an 'interlude' written by James Peaty, art by Warren Pleece, and colours by Hi-Fi.

Here, the tenth Doctor is travelling with Gabby and her best friend Cindy ... The story involves the Doctor arriving on Earth and finding a transdimensional octopus thing there ... he and Gabby go to the help of someone in trouble and find themselves involved with The Reach, aliens trying to get home ... and to do so they need the Doctor's heart. so they take Gabby from him, take him to a room where Martha is dying, to Donna's house, and to the Powell Estate (where Rose lived), all to get the Doctor to despair - the emotion being what the Reach needs.But of course there's more to it than that!

The art is nice, busy without being too complex, and the aliens are nicely considered too.

Issue 3.6 starts a new story by Nick Abadzis, art by Giorgia Sposito and colours by Arianna Florean.

The story picks up, I assume, at the end of the issue before last, with Cindy dead but leaving loads of clones of her behind. Sutekh (or an Osiran anyway) seems to be inexplicably there as well ... It's a puzzling tale ... with excepts from Gabby's diary interspersed, and the Doctor heads for some alien planet where he meets up with his 12th incarnation who warns him obliquely about events to come. Meanwhile back on Earth, something happens to Gabby ...

Not sure about this one to be honest. Perhaps it's just the setting up of the story, but nothing actually seems to happen.  Sorry. It has potential though!

Ninth Doctor - Ongoing Adventures - Issue 13

Written by Cavan Scott, art by Cris Bolson, colours by Marco Lesko

The Doctor is with Rose Tyler and a UNIT nurse named Tara. Captain Jack also appears in the mix and this story is all about him!

We follow Jack's past as a Time Agent, killing people, stealing ... the Terileptils are referenced, and there's an image of the Moxx of Balhoon. He kills a chap called Zloy Volk who would have invented free time travel for everyone and realises he's been set up ... there's a panel with John Hart.  And then he's adventuring with the Doctor and Rose ... and sees Volk alive on a different plant and follows him ... only to meet himself about to assassinate Volk ... The episode ends with Jack shooting Jack!

It's an exciting story, nicely put together and intriguing. The art has a lot of detail in it which makes it good for just admiring the panels.  I'm not quite sure why Cover A has the Empty Child and a Slitheen on it though - in fact, generally, the covers of all the Titan comics don't seem to bear any relationship to the stories being told inside.

Overall this is a nice batch of alternative Doctor Who stories. The acid test is whether they feel like adventures for these Doctors, and for the most part I'd say yes they do.  The one which doesn't so much is the eleventh Doctor one, but then he's a tricky character to capture.

The art is pretty good overall, and the covers are all imaginative and eye-catching.

But there are so many of them!  At $3.99 an issue, and with each issue having 3 or 4 variant covers available, collecting these is a hobby which would get very expensive very quickly! Also, they're only technically available in the USA, and so in the UK you have to reply on specialist stores to get them - and the UK prices in Forbidden Planet are around £2.65 each which is actually cheaper than the USA price at the current currency conversion rate. If you're patient however, there are collected editions being issued by Titan in paperback and hardback.

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