03rd Jun2016

‘Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #3’ Review

by Dean Fuller

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


Reading this book so far has been like soaking in a warm bath of nostalgia, Rennie and Beeby not only capturing the Tom Baker Doctor at his peak, but also throwing him and Sarah Jane into an adventure that is just typical of the type he could pitch up in in those old 70’s TV episodes. Last issue of course saw an attempted rescue of Sarah Jane, held by Lady Emily Carstairs, by The Doctor, the wonderfully named Professor Odysseus James, and his daughter Athena, that didn’t go entirely to plan. Thanks to the Lamp of Chronos, which can open up portals in time and space, the Professor and Sarah Jane were thrown back in time, leaving The Doctor and Athena (who would make a pretty kick-ass companion herself by the way) to face Lady Emily in the present. I love a good set-up.

The Doctor tries his best to fix the damaged Lamp of Chronos, recognising stolen Time Lord technology, in a race against time before the Scryclops can find him and Athena. As the Scryclops smash through the doors to try and capture them, it is Athena who thinks of a clever way to escape them, not The Doctor, who seems just as interested in the mystery of the situation as he is in actually protecting their lives. We then switch over to see how the Professor and Sarah Jane are coping back in time, especially after judging from the artifacts the Professor finds he realises they are in the 5th or 6th Century BC, and Sarah Jane guesses they’re not in London anymore. Both notice the contorted, distressed looking statues dotted around, mainly of people of that era but also including one or two more modern looking statues…

Clearly those aren’t statues, but what or who is turning people to stone? Sarah Jane is obviously desperate to know, as we have already seen a statue of her in Lady Carstairs house, indicating that something is going to happen to her at some point. That point, of course, comes very soon. Oblivious to all this, The Doctor and Athena in the Victorian present finally manage to connect the Lamp of Chronos to the TARDIS and set off to rescue their friend and father respectively, all the while with Lady Carstairs and her Scryclops following from afar. As Beebie and Rennie have shown, they have a particular skill for leaving things on a great cliffhanger, to the extent I mentally hear the Dr Who theme when I read that last panel every month.

Yet again, great dialogue and great characterisation just propelled this story along, near perfect pacing making this a great read from cover to cover. I liked the subtle shades of The Doctor’s character too, as even though Sarah Jane could be in a life threatening situation and time is of the essence, he still takes time to enjoy the mystery, to indulge his inquisitive mind. Absent-minded, or selfish? You decide. The artwork was again a perfect fit for the story, with a perfect likeness of Tom Baker throughout, and nice big panels throughout giving the story a nice scale, some oomph as it were. The backgrounds were pretty non-descript this issue, through necessity, so the characters were really thrown to the fore, and the artwork does them justice.

It seems to me a lot of love goes into this book, there is a very genuine attempt to not only present good stories, but also authentic feeling Tom Baker era stories, and not just tales you could parachute any incarnation of The Doctor into. Readers will always recognise, and appreciate, that respect.

I certainly do.

****½  4.5/5

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


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