27th Jan2016

‘Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #3′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by George Mann | Art by Emma Vieceli | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp

8th-dr-who-3-cover

To date I have been very underwhelmed by this series. Part of that may be that my expectations were too high, specifically excitement at a chance to add some genuine depth and character to an incarnation of the Doctor that has had a fraction of the exposure of the others. Taking that into account, I still think there has been too much of ‘Dr Who by the numbers’, very generic, almost throwaway material. Mann has yet to nail down why we should love this character, what makes him unique, why his adventures are an essential read. I was most definitely looking for a marked improvement with The Eighth Doctor #3.

This month we pitch up in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1866, where the Doctor and Companion Josie are enjoying the theatre, specifically the fantastically named Phillpot’s Magisterial Delights. A magician, Silversmith, has been entertaining the audience with his show, and gets audience members up to participate in a magic trick involving two mirrors, where you enter one and come out through the other. A great trick, but Josie notices a difference in the people who have gone through the mirror and returned to the audience, something not quite right. To steal a phrase from another character (although quite apt given the Victorian setting), the game is afoot.

The Doctor and Josie discover of course that the Silversmith can move people between our dimension and the mirror dimension, so our people are switched with theirs, liberating the mirror people. Trapped in the mirror version of Edinburgh, they soon discover that the Silversmith in our world is also a dark reflection of the real magician, who has been trapped in his own mirrors. Pretty soon, though, things are wrapped up neatly in time for next month, which again is something of an annoyance. Villain appears, fight ensues, villain dispatched. Rinse and repeat. Is it a lack of confidence in the reader, the failure to establish slightly deeper foundations than are currently being built on? Or perhaps a lack of confidence in the characters themselves.

Art-wise, I am still just not ‘getting’ it. It’s not just the art, but the colouring too, and it makes the adventure seem too light, too lacking in substance. It reminds me at times of shoujo, Japanese romance manga. Technically absolutely fine, in fact the panel layouts are very good, but not suited to this book. My quibbles about not capturing Paul McGann’s likeness also remain.

More of the same then. No real character advancement, no development of the relationship between Doctor and companion, just a reasonably entertaining light action adventure. At least the setting suited, as The Eighth Doctor’s sensibilities seem to suit the Victorian era, him being a sort of Victorian style adventurer in look and character. Average fare.

*** 3/5

Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #3 is out now from Titan Comics.

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