Saturday, December 23, 2017

Review: Titan's DOCTOR WHO Comics ranges - November/December 2017

Thanks to Titan for sending me another batch of their Doctor Who magazines to review ... this time it's a selection of  9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Doctor series magazines and a full run of the 8 issue The Lost Dimension story

First off though is part 4 of Ghost Stories for the 12th Doctor.  I mentioned in my review of the previous issues, that part 3 seemed to have more simplified artwork, well thankfully part 4 is back to Ivan Rodriguez with paintings full of detail, colour and life.  The Sycorax are back, and it's down to the Doctor and Grant to save the world.  This of course they manage, and the Doctor gets the final crystal he needs, but he still needs the Hazandrat - the crystal which gives Grant his powers. It transpires that the Doctor needs to open a rift to allow the dark matter accumulated in our universe to bleed off to another. All this is done, and Grant loses his powers ... but a week later, the Doctor returns and shows Grant that, in fact, he still has them - they had become part of his DNA. 

Overall this is a good end to a multi-comic story which covers all the bases.  To be honest it would make a pretty good TV story as well!  So well done to the writer George Mann on that one!

9th Doctor next, and issues 14 and 15.

Written by Cavan Scott, these continue the adventure... except it's all very fragmented.  Issue 13 was all about Jack ... and now we're suddenly with Rose who is having an alien baby ... except she's not ... it's a vision/memory from something called an experience sphere ... and Jack's memories are being sold ... But it's all a plot to capture the Doctor and sell his body/memories to the highest bidder ...

In issue 15 we're on Gallifrey with the War Doctor and battling the Great Vampires ... but it's a memory from the 9th Doctor ... and the whole thing is a trap by the Cybermen to obtain details of the Time War ...  It's fast paced and climactic and hard to see how it will all work out!  But of course it does.  What Scott does well is to include references to many other areas of Doctor Who  continuity so that it hovers just on the right side of readable ... very enjoyable.  With this issue too it looks like the story is ended ... for now ... 

For the 10th Doctor I have been sent issue 3.7, 3.8 and 3.10  (not sure why 3.9 was missed).

We're still in the 'Vortex Butterflies' tale written by Nick Abadzis, and in issue 3.7 the Doctor arrives on a space station while his companions are in an old house ... Sarah Jane Smith unexpectedly arrives and it all turns into an incredibly complex story involving Sutekh going on dates  and an alien talking bean thing that the Doctor gets to travel with him ... so I have no idea where all this was going. I have to say I found the story hard going, and the many characters, places and situations which all seemed unconnected, were hard to follow.

Issue 3.10 supposedly starts a new story, except it doesn't and apparently this is the end of the story (so what was in issue 3.9?)  Anyway, it all seems to have something to do with a companion called Gabby who travelled with the Doctor and evolved through exposure to the Time Vortex and Osiran medical nanobots ... mentioning block transfer abilities and chronon radiation along the way. So the Doctor has to try and undo this ... which he somehow manages ... except that when he arrives on Oloumous at an exhibition, he's seen by a Graske which reports back to a group of bubble-headed beings that they can annihilate the Doctor's entire timeline ... which I suppose is setting up for the next story.

Unlike Scott's work, this is way too full of random bits of Doctor Who continuity for me. The story is confusing and seemingly haphazard, and just doesn't work. What I admire though is Abadzis' imagination, and the scope of the story ... it's pretty breathtaking.

Next up is the 11th Doctor, and I have issues 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.11 and 3.12 ... so no issue 3.10 this time.

We're in the middle of a story called 'Memory Feast' by George Mann (I wasn't sent 3.6 too which I assume contains the start of the story). The art is by I N J Culbard and I'm afraid I really don't like it.  Very blocky and almost childlike and basic in execution. Sorry.

The story follows the Doctor and his companions Alice and the Sapling as they encounter the Xerxes and have to try and escape from them by running through the Doctor's memories ... Inside the machine, they encounter an avatar of the Xerxes and the Doctor learns of their fate ... Meanwhile something called the Thrake are chasing them ... and they eat memories ... so the Doctor lets them ... and they die. Too much food! Not a bad story, but fairly basic.

We're then onto a one-issue story 'Fooled', also by Mann, but the art is much better, by Ivan Rodriguez once more.  The story sees the Doctor and his friends at a carnival, but everyone seems to be losing their memories ... it's up to the Doctor to work out what is happening and to stop it!  A great little one-shot story.

Issue 3.9 starts a new story, 'Strange Loops' by Alex Paknadel, and again illustrated by I N J Culbard. There seems to be a Silent on the TARDIS, and 48 hours earlier, the Doctor was using the Chameleon Arch to scan his memories to discover that some are missing - the Sapling seems to be able to take them from people ... The Doctor gets into difficulties and it all ends up seeming to be about the Time War and Gallifrey ...   I don't know what happens in 3.10, but 3.11 seems to have part two of this story in. There's a Time Lord called the Orphan who doesn't really exist but is part of a weapon ... ultimately the TARDIS is being destroyed and so the Doctor gets the Sapling to hold it all together ... but there's a Silent outside and it gets in ... Issue 3.12 continues the tale and the Doctor battles the Silent ... we get Axons referenced, the original control room, the Krotons and HADS, The Silent is called the Scream (referencing the Edvard Munch painting which inspired their look perhaps), and wants memories ... so the Doctor uses the HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System) to throw them all out of the ship into space ...where the Silent merges with the TARDIS itself ... and the Doctor finds himself on a planet made from his own memories!  It's all a bit random and mad to be honest. Just like the TV adventures!

Onto the 12th Doctor, and I have issues 3.6, 3.7 and 3.9 ... so again there's one missing.  Issue 3.6 continues the story 'The Wolves of Winter' by Richard Dinnick.  I really liked this story which mixes the Ice Warriors and the Flood together with the Haemovores and Fenric. It's well told and well developed.  Good stuff and shows how continuity should be used to enhance a story and not to overload it.

Issue 3.9 contains a new story, again by Dinnick, 'The Great Shopping Bill'. This is another nice little tale of when the Doctor, Nardole and Bill go shopping for a new component for the Vault ... of course there are aliens and a few continuity references, but it's a fun little runabout interlude. 

Having gone through all the issues, and finally getting to The Lost Dimension editions, and I can immediately see that while some of them seem to be one-offs, others are the comics I noted above as being missing from those I was sent ...  how puzzling. So here we go with what seems to comprise this 8 comic story:

Part 1 is numbered issue 01 and called ALPHA
Part 2 is numbered issue 01 and called NINTH DOCTOR SPECIAL
Part 3 is numbered issue 3.9 of THE TENTH DOCTOR
Part 4 is numbered issue 3.10 of THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR
Part 5 is numbered issue 01 and called SPECIAL #1
Part 6 is numbered issue 3.8 of THE TWELFTH DOCTOR
Part 7 is numbered issue 02 and called SPECIAL #2
Part 8 is numbered issue 01 and called OMEGA

Well that's not at all confusing is it!

The Lost Dimension takes in adventures for the Doctor in several of his incarnations, all colliding with each other and taking in various elements of continuity along the way. We're reintroduced to Jenny, the Doctor's daughter, now a time-travelling super-heroine-type complete with flashy Gallifreyan outfit, there's Vastra and Jenny, Silurians, Pirates, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and Osgood, Captain Jack, Cybermen, Ogrons, Krotons and Quarks, ancient Gallifrey and embryonic TARDISes, Romana and Rose, River Song ... as you can see, it's a pretty all encompassing adventure through Space and Time which intersects and crosses itself ... Quite an achievement really!

All in all, the overall impression through all these comic adventures is of a healthy range of stories. It's sometimes hard to see why certain stories are given to certain Doctors ... there's not much to tell them apart to be honest.  Perhaps the 12th Doctor ones feel the most genuine to the TV adventures ... but the 11th Doctor ones retain the devil-may-care approach to plotting which means that quite literally anything can go!

I'm looking forward to seeing the next batch!

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