By various (Panini Books)
This is actually the forth – and final – collection of strips featuring the Eighth (or Paul McGann) Doctor. Whether that statement made any sense to you largely depends on whether you are an old fan, a new convert or even a complete beginner.
None of which is relevant if all you want is a darn good read. All the creators involved have managed the ultimate ‘Ask’ of any comics creator – to produce engaging, thrilling, fun strips that can be equally enjoyed by the merest beginner and the most slavishly dedicated fan.
Writer Scott Gray provides a splendid script for Roger Langridge and David A. Roach’s wonderful art with ‘Where Nobody Knows Your Name’ as the errant Time-Lord fetches up at a bar to and meets a few old friends, before Gareth Roberts spoofs the entire British Football comics industry in ‘The Nightmare Game’. Pictorial fun and thrills in equal measure are provided by Mike Collins and Robin Smith on this nostalgic three-parter.
Gray writes everything else in the book, starting with a short adventure in ancient Egypt. ‘The Power of Thoueris!’ is stylishly illustrated by Adrian Salmon, and is followed by an extended Victorian romp illustrated by Anthony Williams and David A. Roach concerning ‘The Curious Tale of Spring-Heeled Jack’.
‘The Land of Happy Endings’ is a touching and engagingly heartfelt tribute to the days of the TV hero’s earliest strip outings. Writer Gray, penciller Martin Geraghty, inkers Roach and Faz Choudhury with painter/colourists Daryl Joyce and Adrian Salmon all tip their collective hats to Neville Main (illustrator of the first graphic adventures of the Doctor beginning in 1964 in TV Comic) in a charming retro-romp, which clears the palate for a horror-fest set in 1875 Dakota. ‘Bad Blood’ has werewolves, shamanism, ghost-towns, cowboys, George Armstrong Custer and Sitting Bull as well as the requisite aliens and evil technology rioting through its five chapters, all ably illustrated by Geraghty, Roach and Salmon in an enthralling thriller that leaves the Doctor with a brand new Companion, Destrii.
‘Sins of the Fathers’, drawn by John Ross and coloured by Salmon, deals with the aftermath of that conflict. The severely wounded Destrii has to be rushed to a deep-space hospital just in time for it to be attacked by zero-G terrorists. Both this three-parter and the following epic ‘The Flood’ have extended endings that have never been published before.
‘The Flood’ is the real gem of the book, a huge, eight part saga that was originally intended to conclude the McGann Doctor adventures and bridge the gap to the new TV series with the Christopher Eccleston Time-Lord. Just how that all worked out makes for fascinating reading in the wonderful text section at the back, but Gray, Geraghty, Roach, Salmon and Langridge go out with a bang as Cybermen invade Camden on their way to world domination that is an absolute joy of a tale, full of action suspense, humour and the kind of cameos all fan-boys die for.
We’ve all got our little joys and hidden passions. Sometimes they overlap and magic is made. This is a great set of comic strips, about a great TV hero. If you’re a fan of only one, this book might make you an addict to both.
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