27th Apr2016

‘Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #2’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby | Art by Brian Williamson | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp


Until reading last issue featuring the iconic Tom Baker Fourth Doctor, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the character in comic book form. I was an avid reader of the Dr Who Marvel Comics which featured his incarnation back in the day, and it was a delight to read a new adventure. It was an excellent first issue, the highlight being the excellent capture of the personalities Of The Doctor and Sarah Jane, and especially their relationship. The story, which played out nicely like an old episode of the show, saw them pitch up in Victorian London where people have been mysteriously disappearing. Teaming up with Professor Odysseus James and his daughter Athena they discover alien involvement and the mysterious Lady Emily, who kidnaps Sarah Jane to show her a stone statue of… Sarah Jane.

With the conclusion of last issue I was genuinely excited to see what was going on, which is the biggest compliment to a writer’s use of the cliffhanger. So what was going on? Glad you asked, say writers Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby as we get dual track exposition from Professor James to The Doctor, and Lady Emily to Sarah Jane, both telling essentially the same story but from different perspectives. Professor James’s work on chrononautology (time travel to the non-Victorians among us) had brought him to the attention of Lady Emily who required his assistance with an ancient Greek artefact she owned, The Lamp of Chronos, which could apparently open up windows to the past. The Professor made it work but rather than just windows to the past, Lady Emily wanted gateways, and she took it away from him to do it herself. Bad move.

Lady Emily accessed somewhere where something very bad was waiting, and something that is slowly turning her to stone. This can be reversed, but only if she helps free the entity she found. Although there is a lot of exposition in this issue, it works very well, as it is told while characters are still doing things that are moving the story forward, and is told with a smattering of witty asides and great dialogue. By the time The Doctor, the Professor, and Athena attempt their rescue of Sarah Jane we know exactly what is at stake, the motivations of Lady Emily (not so much completely evil as very selfish), and what needs to be done. Things of course go exactly as you would expect, and we end with another cliffhanger (cue Dr Who theme music in your head) that sees The Doctor and Athena trapped in the present, and Professor James and Sarah Jane trapped in the past.

Fun. That could have been my review right there. Everything has the authentic feel of a Tom Baker era story. The dialogue is right, the larger than life baddies, even the setting fits well. A tad insubstantial in that, exposition aside, all that really happened was an attempted rescue attempt, but as a reader I never felt I was being shortchanged. I was so engrossed in the back story, and the dialogue, I certainly felt I was getting my money’s worth.

The art plays its part too, suitable Victorian backdrops framing the story, and the likeness of the actors perfectly captured. A minor gripe is that the ‘action’ panels are done really well, though some of the more text heavy panels feel very static, almost photograph like. Perhaps such great effort went into capturing the likenesses, the composition suffered a little. Moody colours round out a book that visually is fun to look at, and fun to read.

The Fourth Doctor #2 continues where the first issue left off, capturing the spirit of 70’s Dr Who to a tee. Perfect entertainment, especially for longtime Who fans.

****½  4.5/5

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #2 is out now from Titan Comics


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