10th May2017

‘Doctor Who: Ghost Stories #2′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by George Mann | Art by Pasquale Qualano | Published by Titan Comics

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I was a little bit hasty with my preconceptions of this book. A mini-series based on a Dr Who TV Christmas special that I didn’t particularly like looked doomed to failure, review wise. Instead George Mann served up a first issue that surpassed the TV episode, and showed these characters could be used well. ‘These’ characters are Grant and Lucy, the stars of the TV special, now joined by their young daughter Jennifer, this being several years after the special. Grant Gordon is, of course, the world’s first superhero, an affectionate homage to Silver Age superheroes in general, and Superman in particular. He became that superhero courtesy of a reality altering gem that ended up in his possession as a boy courtesy of The Doctor on one of his many escapades.

The Doctor now has asked for Grant’s help to find the other three reality altering gems, as his gem can lead The Doctor to them. Grant, Lucy, and Jennifer join The Doctor in tracking the first gem, The Arquess,which unfortunately belongs to a super powered enemy called The Smoke, ruling over a future dystopian New York City. The Smoke was originally a hero, but was corrupted by the gem, a sort of dark version of Grant’s The Ghost. Grant loses his first physical tussle with The Smoke which only angers The Doctor, who tells him his powers are just a tool, he should focus on his personal strengths to pull The Smoke back from his dark side. In the end it’s actually Jennifer who does the job, bringing Ethan Hall back, the real person behind The Smoke. He gives up the gem to The Doctor. One down.

Next up Nixtus III, one of the most enlightened planets in the galaxy….usually. It’s currently under the control of The Harmony Shoal. The Harmony Shoal were the body snatching villains The Twelfth Doctor has previously encountered and defeated. This world unfortunately has been taken over as The Shoal exploited the native races’ desire to bond, after the death of a previous race they co-existed with. The Shoal are replacing through stealth this time. As Lucy and Jennifer do some investigating of their own, The Doctor and Grant are found and, as illegal singles, taken to a Symbiosis Center to be processed. Time for The Ghost to save the day, right? Then why are his powers not working just as those buzz saws move inches from their skulls….Great cliffhanger ending.

Though not as entertaining as the first issue, second ones rarely are, this was still a good fun romp of an adventure. The Smoke part of the gem quest was ultimately wrapped up quite swiftly, with the expected Who motif of mind over power, and innocence over corruption. Nice use of those themes, true to the characters and true to the mythos. Mann writes a good Twelfth Doctor personality wise, captures his intentional scattiness well, always leaving you with the feeling that no matter the predicament The Doctor is always a few steps ahead. He seems to enjoy leaving a solution as late as possible to make it a challenge, or at least give his companions a chance at the glory.

Art wise, we had a change from Ivan Rodriguez last issue with Pasquale Qualano, though the change wasn’t too jarring or dramatic. Likenesses were fine, panels and layouts nicely done, and paced out very well. Some pages had quite a few panels on them but never felt cluttered or too busy. Good stuff.

For a slightly strange Dr Who/ superhero story this is playing out quite nicely, hopefully it has the legs to last all four issues. With Super Mann writing, I’m sure it does. Ahem.

***½  3.5/5

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