23rd Sep2015

‘Doctor Who: Four Doctors #5′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Paul Cornell | Art by Neil Edwards | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp

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So, here we are. Cornell and Edwards have led us a merry chase these previous four issues, throwing in some genuine surprises, such as the identity of the architect of it all, some nice reminders of Who lore, even a little disappointment (is it just me that hoped the Time War and the War Doctor featured a bit more?). The question I had picking this final issue up was did Cornell put so much effort into the journey he had nothing left for the grand finale.

Doctors and Companions were all left in something of a pickle last issue, and Cornell throws this all up in the air by using the old Dr Who stand-by – send someone down the time stream to prevent said event from ever happening. In this case, Gabby returns to the cafe in twenties Paris where this all began and warns her younger self and the other companions what’s to come. They agree that the Doctors must not go to Marinus, to stop the chain of events, but of course the three Doctors completely ignore that and decide to go anyway, confident that Gabby’s information is enough to turn the tide. I won’t ruin the specifics, but by issue’s end the evil/ tragic incarnation of the Twelfth Doctor’s timeline no longer exists and the photo that triggered a lot of this is blank.

The conclusion certainly lived up to my expectations, though ever so slightly disappointed by not exceeding them. The resolution was classic Who, but for all that was a littl pat. What sparkled as always were the personalities of the Doctors and the Companions, not given quite so much to individually shine but all doing exactly what that character should and would do in the circumstances. Cornell again leaves us in doubt about his knowledge and love for his material, both with the way the resolution is executed, nods to previous Who villains, and a single panel that will probably elicit the biggest smile of all. Something of a crowd pleaser, that Cornell.

Neil Edwards art remains solid, consistently good, perfectly in synch with the writing, and very adaptable. Characters talking to each other is as perfectly depicted as is a full page splash of a an alien environment or dramatic event. I did think the schedule may have caught up a little with Edwards though, as one or two panels seem a little hurried and not quite up to the very high standard we expect. Also, he never did quite get Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor right facially, although he perfectly captured his body language, and Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor has started to morph into a Capaldi/ Hartnell hybrid it seems.

Now it’s all over, and once again the illusion of change has been shown to have been a desert mirage, was it worth the ride? A huge, resounding yes. If fans of both comics and Dr Who can’t have fun with this series, there really is no hope for them. It delivered drama, laughs, nostalgia, classic Who characters and nods to the past all delivered at a frenetic speed. It wasn’t television, but at times I nearly forgot as  it really did seem to be David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi running around in front of me. Cornell and Edwards have managed to distill down the essence of what makes Dr Who work, its characters , its mythos, its exotic locales, and serve it up to us in a sumptuous feast.

As crazy as it always gets, with time paradoxes, altered timelines, people meeting their future selves etc what Dr Who at its heart is really about is relationships. Without those, nothing works, or we just don’t care about the characters and what is happening to them. Cornell makes those relationships centre stage, and that’s why we do care.
A fine finale to a great series.

**** 4/5

Doctor Who: The Four Doctors #5 is out now from Titan Comics.

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