Monday, June 29, 2009

Two Doctor Who Comic Reviews

Because I've been putting these off for too long, let's get back into the swing of things and do some reviews!

Doctor Who: Autopia

The Tenth Doctor and Donna travel to Autopia; a supposed paradise planet that was meant to be entirely automated, allowing the race who built this paradise all the time they need to contemplate the universe and achieve enlightenment. Of course things aren't quite that simple and The Doctor and Donna quickly find that over time enlightenment came to mean "lazing about in a toga all day, reading the same poetry book over and over while ordering your robots to kill anyone who disrupts your routine."

The first Doctor Who comic featuring Donna Nobel as a companion, this comic draws off the rich tradition of robot stories started by Issac Asimov, exploring the same themes of how humanity and morality can be defined in the face of artificial intelligence; small wonder given the script is by John Ostrander, who has done quite a bit with those themes in his other works. It's not the most original story - most of these themes have been explored in Doctor Who before - but it is a serviceable story if not wholly original.

The art, on the other hand, hovers on the other side of adequate. David Tenant's likeness is rendered well-enough but Donna is only distinguishable in that she the one female humanoid who isn't wearing a toga. And shame upon the colorist who decided her hair should be bright orange!

I give it 6 out of 10. Worth picking up if you're a fan of The Doctor.

Doctor Who: The Time Machination

The idea of a mash-up between Doctor Who and The Time Traveler of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine isn't exactly a new one. Indeed, this comic acknowledges that former work - probably the most definitive novel in the Time-Travel Sci-Fi genre - with a number of liberal quotes throughout as well as references to the times when H.G. Wells appeared on the show as a character.

The plot involves the Tenth Doctor being stranded in England sometime just before H.G. Wells wrote his famous book. Not surprisingly, Wells is a friend of The Doctor and agrees to help him - as best he can - by getting a physicist colleague to help The Doctor in making the repairs to The TARDIS that he needs - a task made much more difficult by the fact that Torchwood is wise to The Doctor's presence and is after Queen Victoria's mortal enemy.

Despite being rather dependent on having some familiarity with the current series (i.e. Who Are Torchwood and why are they chasing after The Doctor?) and having quite a few in-jokes based on the original series (i.e. The Fourth Doctor appears briefly in his Sherlock Holmes costume - a reference to The Talons of Weng-Chiang) this comic is easily accessible to people who might not be completely familiar with The Doctor as a character. Of course it's unlikely anyone like that would be reading this book in the first place but it is a touch that I like.

The artwork by Jack Staff artist Paul Grist and colorist Phil Elliott has a sketchy feel to it which puts me in the mind of some of the early Vertigo artists who worked on Hellblazer. Very fitting for a Doctor adventure.

Call it 7 out of 10. Definitely worth a pick-up even if you aren't a Doctor Fan.

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