Monday, November 9, 2009

Comic Review: Doctor Who #5 (IDW Publishing)

I’m going to make a statement upfront: I love Doctor Who. No joke. So when given the opportunity by my friend Brian Isaacs to review the latest issue of the Doctor Who series from IDW I jumped at the chance.

See, here in the States, Doctor Who material isn’t always easy to find, so a comic book series, especially one that’s released monthly is a godsend. I went into Doctor Who #5 with an open mind and a willing heart.

The issue is part three of a four part story line, as per usual, has the Doctor stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The Doctor(resembling his David Tennant regeneration) has been put on trial by The Shadow Proclamation (think Green Lantern Corps), for changing the future by altering the past. The Doctor, along with a few alien colleagues have crash landed on an alien planet while trying to escape a life sentence on the prison planet Volag-Noc.

To a casual reader, the issue SHOULD leave you feeling a bit...meh. To an avid Doctor Who fan, the issue should leave you feeling more than a bit disappointed.

Yes its’ got space ships, aliens, a main characters with a quirky fashion sense, but it lacks the most important part of any Doctor Who story. There’s no companion.

Since its inception the Doctor has always had a companion, sometimes even more than one. The companion is who the reader identifies with. They’re the one who pulls the viewer/reader in. Kitty Pryde in Uncanny X-Men is a great example of this.

A good companion can make the viewer/reader fall in love with them. A good companion is always missed when they leave, and is always welcomed back with open arms. Not having a companion in a Doctor Who story makes it just another science fiction piece. Sadly, this is the case here. The issue is a sub standard piece of science fiction.

Another big problem with the issue is there’s no sense of foreshadowing here. Doctor Who is known for its deep sub plots and over arcing story lines. Nothing is ever mentioned casually. Everything has a point. (Bad Wolf, Face of Boe anyone?) If there’s anything like that in this issue I missed it.

On a technical level writer Tony Lee (X-Men Unlimited, The Amazing Spider-Man Family) and artist Matthew Dow (Day of Judgement, Hellboy: Box Full of Evil) don’t seem to have the chemistry needed to keep this series going.

Lee is among the new wave of British comic book writer but he’s got a long way to go before he’s up there with the likes of Alan Moore (Watchmen), Grant Morrison (Final Crisis) or Bill Willilngham (Fables). To be fair to Lee, who has most likely grown up with the material, might be a little scarred handling the icon known as Doctor Who.

As for Dow, someone I’ve followed since Day of Judgement, he seems to be really trying here, but for someone who’s made a name for himself using shadows and darkness to tell a story, everything looks washed out.

Sometimes comics are a hit, sometimes they’re a miss. Lee and Dow might be working together on this series but they are most certainly not working on the same page. This isn’t Doctor Who, no matter how hard they try and make it so.

Carl Keyser
Staff Reviewer

1 comment:

Charles said...

Allow me to review this review, because frankly this is probably the most piss poor review of a comic book that I've ever come across.

Firstly, this is supposed to be a review of issue 5 of the ongoing Dr. Who comic book series from IDW. However, all the criticism expressed is very general and seems to be aimed at the series as a whole. Yet it doesn't seem like Mr. Keyser has been paying attention to the series. I would even go as far as to say that he hasn't been reading the series as at all because his knowledge of the material he's reviewing seems very limited.

Let's address each piece of criticism in order. First he somehow feels that its a negative that there's no companion. Hate to break it to him but the Doctor hasn't always had a companion. There have been times when he goes it alone. Reference "The Deadly Assassin" story from the Tom Baker era for a classic example but more importantly, in current continuity where issue 5 takes place, THE DOCTOR HAS NO COMPANION! I forgive him if he hasn't seen Waters Of Mars yet because it has yet to air in the States (though I also live in the States and I have seen it) but if he's as much of an avid Who fan as he boasts he should have at least seen The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead because those have aired and is also available on DVD and download from iTunes. Also, if he's read any of the recent novels available at most Barnes and Nobles he would have observed that the Doctor is solo in those as well. So, to state that the lack of a companion in this story is somehow a failing seems ignorant.

I should also point out that there is a history of Doctor solo adventures in Doctor Who comics of the past, so its even more common in this medium.

And if he's been reading the series he would have notice that in the first to issues there's a strong foreshadowing of the Doctor getting a new companion soon.

Which brings me to the next topic, his claim that there's no foreshadowing in this story. Granted, Tony Lee doesn't seem to subscribe to the RTD style of foreshadowing which is to insert buzz words into each episode (Season 1=Bad Wolf, Season 2= Torchwood, Season 3= Mr. Saxon, etc.) The buzz word technique is fun because its like playing Where's Waldo trying to pick them out but its not the only way to do foreshadowing and it certainly isn't the most common way. Traditionally, foreshadowing isn't obvious and is meant to only be noticed in hindsight so it can be hard to pick it out all the time. But if I were to guess at some possible foreshadowing in this issue check out page 1 and page 13 of this issue. I have a feeling there are some things that are happening there that will come up later. And if you go to previous issues, I picked up on some possible foreshadowing about a big bad in the first issue of this arc (issue 3 of the series). So, I'm pretty sure there is some foreshadowing here even though it can't be confirmed until the payoff that may come in the future of this series.

Finally he criticizes the chemistry between Tony Lee and Matthew Dow Smith. This is a matter of opinion but I've seen plenty of fan reaction that contradicts that. My problem with this comment just goes to show again that Mr. Keyser isn't familiar enough with what he's reviewing. If he had done his homework instead of just talking out his ass he would know that every story arc of this series will feature a different art team, so if you aren't impressed with the art of Mr. Smith, just wait till issue 7 and try the next guy.

In short, This isn't a review. Its just another rant written by one of the many internet trolls that populate the world wide web. So, if you haven't read the Dr. Who series from IDW, take this "review" with a grain of salt and don't let it effect your decision to pick it up.