Friday, October 1, 2010

Doctor Who - Doomed Doctor Deca

"Will you stay with the Doctor until the darkness comes? Will you stand with him and his allies against unspeakable horrors, returning villains, alien lifeforms and death from the very ground itself?" asks the first issue of the ongoing comic book series designed to fit between Planet of the Dead and The Waters of Mars, showing the last days of the Tenth Doctor... and still haven't managed it Matt Smith's Christmas Special draws ever nearer.

My answer to all the above was, "You know what? No."

If you want some kind of decent comic based Tenth Doctor arc, I recommend The Crimson Hand... mind you, thanks to these comics, you won't be able to get a crisp Panini paperback with all those comics. Bastards.

Still, SOMEONE has to review this and lord knows no one has, so...


SILVER SCREAM

1: Silver Scream
2: Terror on the Tracks

"You did this! You made it happen! It's all part of your plan!"
"Yeah, because all I really wanted to do today was hang off a giant clock face... I mean, it's obviously one of my "things to do before I die" and all that, but not directly before!"


You know what really grinds my gears? Really crappy substitutes. Like TV Comic's The Didus Expedition, where the First Doctor, John and Gillian so searchus for the extinct bird the Didus (hence the expression "as dead as a Didus"). Worse was the fact the artist was not nearly as coy as the writer and made the Didus look ABSOLUTELY IDENTICAL to a Dodo.

That sort of thing bugs me. I don't care if it's down to legal reasons or not (mind you, who the hell thought the Dodo would sue TV Comic?!), but having to put up with Power Raiders instead of Power Rangers, Max Warp instead of Top Gear, or all those beyond-disgusting Professor X jokes that permeate even Big Finish (the Seventh Doctor defending his assholedom on the grounds that Tomb of the Cybermen, sorry, Tomb of the Cyborgs, wasn't as good as people said... FUCK OFF!!) It reached its zenith in the Londinium episodes of 1960s Batman, with a strange foreign country called Londinium with Ye Bloody Tower, Barnaby Street, Venerable Irish Yard detectives, bobbies and... a president. WHO THE FUCK WAS SUPPOSED TO FALL FOR THIS?!?

So, Silver Scream kicks off the IDW ongoing comic strip with the Doctor travelling back to silent-era Hollywood to meet the famous silent comic with the dumb moustache, the walking stick and the tramp chic who is famous throughout the western world...

ARCHIE MAPLIN!!!

Now, I'm an open-minded guy. These sort of substitutes CAN work if done well (see the Goodies on numerous occasions, along with Desiree Carthouse the moral watchdog). I could have coped with a story about a completely made up silent film comedian who is famous. But do they do that? No, they actually go into incredible detail about this bloke who definitely, explicitely ISN'T Charlie Chaplin - despite the fact the Doctor admits the only reason he went to Hollywood was to meet Chaplin because Donna wanted to see him afore her brain exploded. But he gets this... this... Nev Fountain joke instead!

"There he is! There's the man! Archie Maplin himself! Although I preferred the later stuff, you know, The Great Oppressor, Future Times, that sort of thing! They named a pub after you in the Elephant & Castle though... no. Wait. That was the other guy, the one in the bowler hat..."

There are other ways you could instantly make me hate something, but there are none more certain. And that includes Ben Chatham.

Now, somewhere - I've no idea where - I heard that the original idea was for this to be a proper celebrity historical with the Little Tramp himself, but for some legal reason it was changed at the last moment. Mmmm. No, I still don't care as the end result insults my intelligence by assuming

a) I'm so brain dead I won't notice this awful substitution
b) that ARCHIE MAPLIN!!! is in any way interesting

Both of which are completely false premises.

OK. The plot. After all that loitering in Victorian London, the Doctor decides to visit silent-era Hollywood (or Hollywoodland, as it was back then), 1929 cause, well, Donna wanted to and he misses her like hell. Gatecrashing a party at ARCHIE MAPLIN!!!'s house, the Time Lord discovers that there is a static point in time and space linked to hopeful starlet Emily Winter who has just got an audition in a film with Hollywood heavyweight Maximillian Love - and in a real chutzpah moment, the Doctor declares him evil because he's never heard of the guy. But ARCHIE MAPLIN!!! is above reproach, of course.

Geeky runner Matthew Finnegan agrees something is dodgy about Love and his boss, Leo Miller, who seemingly become more and more charismatic the more hopeful auditionees they reject - and Emily's the latest victim, having her hope and optimism surgically sucked out of her brain by Love and Miller, who are actually evil alien washed-up actors using stolen emotion-draining tech to improve their charisma! Please don't tell me that particular revelation shocked anyone... Anyway, they stun ARCHIE MAPLIN!!! unconscious and take the Doctor hostage, unaware that the now literally-axe-crazy Emily is after them.

After tying the Doctor to a railway track ("Are you kidding me?!") in time for a cliffhanger, Emily's axe-weilding Alexei Sayle impressions rescue the Time Lord. Confronting Miller and Love ("Doctor! You're alive! How very Hollywood of you!"), the Doctor offers his own emotions for them to drain in return for leaving the rest of humanity alone. Emily and Matthew's ongoing plots are summed up in one page - Emily goes crazy with a shotgun, Matthew is all pathetic emo and nervous, and neither of them do a damn thing while the Doctor runs off without them. Bear that in mind, because it's going to happen a lot from now on.

The machinery can't cope with Tennant angst and explodes, and the Doctor, ARCHIE MAPLIN!!! and Leo Miller immediately start trying to kill each other in a silent movie chase! Using all sorts of gags and cliches that not only are ripped off from that episode of The Goodies where they take over Pinewood studios, but simply aren't as funny. Come to think out, why the fuck would anyone be impressed by a silent chase in a comic? It's just a bunch of dialogue free panels in black and white. Even the Doctor boggles at this unfunny "kicking people up the arse so they fall into wet cement" bollocks, getting a movieboard caption: YOU'RE REALLY STOPPING TO DO THIS? I MEAN... REALLY?!

Right there with you, Thete.

They finally end up hanging from a clock with Miller trying hack the Doctor to pieces with an axe while Emily shoots at Miller with a shotgun when they finally run out of pages and Miller accepts getting arrested by Californian police. So, basically, if the Doctor had let Emily go machine-gun-crazy, the whole plot would have been resolved so much sooner. Is this the moral kids at home are supposed to take on board?

Emily and Matthew immediately... for no obvious reason I can possibly ascertain... beg to join the Doctor aboard the TARDIS. He's as thrilled at this proposition as he would have if Adam Rickitt and a bowl of honey was somehow involved. Thankfully this awkward moment is broken when the Shadow Proclamation and the Judoon materialize and arrest the Doctor for changing history. The comic ends before anyone can ask the how the hell that's supposed to work (so ARCHIE MAPLIN!!! was supposed to die and Maximillian Love was meant to conquer the world then, was he?).

We also get references to Chelonians, the Doctor inheriting his accent from the Tylers (who now live in Peckham), Donna, Wilf, The Next Doctor, The Fires of Pompeii, The Time Machination, The Empty Child, The Five Doctors, Robot, and of course the Shadow Proclamation. Yep, Mr. Russell is still on hand.

But there are good bits. A gag I've often tried to get in YOA is Andrew going to a party and constantly introducing himself with a different name (at one point using the name of the person he's sitting next to). Here, the Doctor manages to do it effortlessly with a fair bit of showbiz bitchiness as he goes under the monikers of "Tom Cruise with two Ps and a silent Q", "Tom Hanks", "Michael Caine", "Pee-Wee Herman" and "Harold Knowles". The Suggestibility Paper (x-rated psychic paper) is a cool idea, not that it's used much. And... actually, bar a few jokes, that's it. The wierd layout of panels like a railway track at the end of part one was OK. I guess. Certainly the artwork is actually WORSE than the Grist covers...

And just how the hell did the Doctor know Leo Miller's name?! His name was never mentioned before, so when the Doctor starts muttering darkly about the guy, I for one boggled and wondered what the hell he was on about. Still, considering this was written by the man who perpetrated The Forgotten, it's amazing the plot holds together to such a degree.

But frankly, compared to the next story, I didn't know when I was well off.


THE FUGITIVE

1: Fugitive
2: The Not-So-Great Escape
3: Enemy, Mine!
4: Endgame

"I can do this! I can do this! I CAN'T DO THIS!!"

And this is where my grudging tolerance for the series left the room, shaking its head and slamming the door behind it.

The Doctor is now suddenly in SPHQ, where the albino bint (sorry, Shadow Architect) explains the organization has hastily got over the fact the Time Lords are real and the Doctor is on trial for saving Emily Winter, just like he did with Charley Pollard... rather missing the point that even fricken Vansell thought that it was a total fluke changing the destiny of that Edwardian Adventuress had ANY negative fallout.

His prosecutor is none other than Mr. Finch from School Reunion - yes, turns out the Krillitanes (those endearing child-eating psychopaths determined to conquer the entire universe) were working for the Shadow Proclamation. And, you know, remaking all reality by interfering with the development of an off-limits planet, that's all entirely above board too.

Just then some blue chick with scary yellow eyes called the Advocate turns up and offers to be the Doctor's lawyer. She warns the Doctor that, shock horror, this whole trial is a farce... rather like that last one the Doctor was in... and between the Krillitanes and the Shadow Proclamation, the Doctor is a dead man walking. After an abortive attempt at escape, the trial begins. And it's so boring the Doctor starts wishing the Valeyard was around (I'm sorry, this is supposed to appeal to new fans, is it?) while the Shadow Architect starts comparing him to the Rani, the Master and "utterly mad brain-in-a-goldfish-bowl" Morbius. While the Doctor retorts that Mr. Finish is just like the Master, Davros, the Slitheen and Nestene Consciousness. But this fanwank-competition does little good apart from making me glad I didn't buy these things or else I'd have torn them up in disgust by now.

Breaking the tedium is one of those purple shapeshifter dudes from Agent Provocateur, who tries to knife the Doctor to death in a recess while the Judoon stand around doing absolutely bugger all.

The Doctor gets sent to Volag-Noc (the space prison from The Infinite Quest, where other characters played by Anthony Stewart Head reside under Governor Travis) but Finch bribes the Judoon to nuke the spaceship on the way. Just when things look bleak enough, he's locked in a cell with a Draconian, a Sontaran and an Ogron. Who immediately beat the shit out of him when they find out who he is.

Amazingly enough things actually get worse...

Imagine the works of Ron Mallet being sung by Chip Jamison over scenes of walrus rape written by Joshua Wynne while early season 1 Alex Drake does sign language in the corner of the screen. Or maybe Mark Gatiss' Dr Who Night skits by Chris Lilley. They have to open up a new layer of hell for this stuff. Below the Athiest, below Judas Escariot, there is this comic book.

Ok... deep breaths, EC... it turns out that the Draconian that just happens to be in the cell knows about all sorts of nasty things the Doctor has done. My hands shake as I type. This is so awful. Maybe I'm exaggerating, or maybe no one else reacts so badly to this shit of the first order.

OK. This random Draconian tells the Doctor off for daring to fight back when an Ogron tries to kill him. And then guilt-trips the Doctor because, apparently, the Ogrons lost all their street cred after the Third Doctor... actually, what DID he do? I honestly can't recall. As far as I remember, the Third Doctor used a fear gadget on them so he looked like the Beast of Scrotum Valley. While he was stopping the Ogrons STARTING A WAR BETWEEN DRACONIANS AND HUMANS. But apparently, this tiny few seconds was somehow uploaded to youtube or something (even though there were no witnesses) caused a planet-wide economic crisis and everyone decided to hire Judoons instead. So the Ogrons all cried like wusses.

And this is something for the Doctor to be guilty about. Fuck you, Draconian!

But, wait, there's more!

The Doctor is guilt-tripped about shooting an Ogron in Day of the Daleks. An Ogron that technically never existed because of temporal paradoxes. And somehow only this random Draconian diplomat knew about this and tells the Doctor off AGAIN for defending himself. Fuck you, Draconian!

He then proceeds to tell the Doctor off for his pacifist mentality by guilt-tripping him for all the dark shit he committed in the Time War. HOW THE HELL DOES THIS RANDOM FUCKWIT KNOW ALL THIS?!?

Then the Sontaran starts this passive aggressive Thomas Brewster self-justifying bollocks! Ever thought that the toad-faced potato-heads were evil warmongering bastards who love slaughtering innocents for sport like they always are portrayed as? Well, apparently they're really great people and the Doctor is an evil destroyer for wiping out their war fleets (you know, the ones lead by suicidally insane generals bragging about how unstoppable they are?) because Sontarans are just little sulky kids who talk big and are really trying to save us all from those gosh-danged-nasty Rutans! And it's ALL THE DOCTOR'S FAULT! Fuck you, Sontaran!

Yes, a race of mindless mercenaries and cloned sociopaths are all upset and miserable because the Doctor stopped them killing innocent people.

Worst of all the Doctor's sole defence to all these charges is saying "I was a different man" over and over again. GOD DAMN IT! Eleven wouldn't put up with this shit! And you know what Eight would say with his newly-acquired psychic paper?

Anyway, turns out this Mindgame-rip-off gang of Pertwee era monsters are actually diplomats sent to some conference or other but have all been arrested on false charges to keep some political power vacuum or other. Finch has the prison ship sent hurtling into the heart of a sun, but the Doctor stages a break out and, getting shit from the Draconian EVERY STEP OF THE WAY, crashes straight into some quarry planet. Or something. Thankfully that comic is over.

The next part has everyone except the Sontaran dressing up as a Judoon, stealing a second Judoon ship and returning to the SPHQ - alas, Finch and the Krillitanes have taken over, paying the Judoon better wages than the "albino witches" and they intend to assimilate and conquer the whole universe. Even the Doctor gets sick of this recycled plot and tells them to back down now or else.

Oh, and Finch has the Advocate zapped. That's probably important.

Part four begins with the whacking dues ex machina that a bunch of loyal Judoon, the Sontarans and the Draconians have been floating around all the time and have all their guns pointed at the Krillitanes. After insulting Mr. Finch for not being as cool as he was on TV (...and who's fault is that, Mr. Writer?), the Ogron gives a long speech in baby talk about how Ogrons were rendered lame by hanging around with Pertwee villains and, amazingly, all the evil Judoon agree and turn on Mr. Finch. Then the loveable, defenceless, puppy-like Sontaran asks if they can get down to slaughtering every living thing.

"What?!" he retorts when everyone glares at him. That's the closest to wit to be found in this... this... whatever it is.

The Shadow Architect reveals that Mr. Finch isn't a Krillitane but one of those purple shape shifters, and immediately the new Pertwee alliance forms - three empires who give into bloodlust at the slightest provocation as shown in double page spread of Sontarans screaming "Destroy them all!", Draconians screaming "Do not let the Sontarans gain more glory than we do! Kill the Krillitanes!" and the Ogrons poetically chanting "KILL! JUDOON!!!" The Shadow Architect then encourages her new Judoon follows to "drop Finch down as many stairs as you like."

That's police brutality, motherfucker.

Anyway, the Draconian finally stops whining when he suddenly remembers the Doctor is a Draconian Noble who SINGLEHANDEDLY SAVED HIS SPECIES and invites the Doctor to join this alliance of mindless hatred and bigotry on the condition he brings a Pertwee companion (so... he knows all about the Time War but not Donna? Fuck you, Draconian). The Doctor says no and wanders off to let this evil empire of corruption and violence rule the galaxy. Yay, I don't think.

The Shadow Architect then explains the whole "trial of a Time Lord" schtick was a bluff to lure Finch into revealing his hand and then she and the Draconian waffle on unhelpfully about how the Doctor should get a companion. "You should be with friends at the end when he knocks for the fourth time," the Architect whispers uselessly. What was Wilf, you bitch? See, this is why people shouldn't try and hammer their way into story arcs by completely different writers...

The Doctor returns to Earth and agrees to let Emily and Matthew join him in return for a long lecture about the backstory of MerlinDoc in Battlefield. But what's this? The Advocate is alive, and Finch was her servant - the whole thing was a double, double, double bluff so that the Advocate could fake her death (?!?) and trick the Doctor into getting that Terronite brain-suck-thing (didn't that explode?) into his TARDIS, all of which will allow this blue chick to control the greatest ever weapon. Even though she can flit through time and space at will like a ghost and no one can stop her.

Oh god, my brain started bleeding.

This is without doubt the worst IDW comic strip. It is the worst Doctor Who comic strip. TV Comic have nothing on this. This is the anti-Watchmen. Plot, characterization, logic... all crimes here. Mathew Dow Smith's butt ugly Adrian Salmon wannabe artwork doesn't help at all. This makes me yearn for the intelligent morality of The Idiot's Lantern, The War Machines, of that fic where the Seventh Doctor murders prostitutes for kicks...

But perhaps the worst moment is the very first page as the Doctor sarcastically claims that, since he is the Last of the Time Lords, he can repeal all the laws of time and space. Um, rather undercuts The Waters of Mars, doesn't it? Unforgivable.

The compilation editions of this story should all be burnt.


TESSARACT

1: Time Smash
2: Implosion

"Helo me stop the seduction of Emily Winter. You know it was always about her, right? She's shiny. He loves shiny. Until they tarnish. Until they break. Until they die."

The Doctor takes his new groupies to the wardrobe room. Matthew refuses to have a makeover while Psycho Emily dresses up like a cross between Lara Croft and a Vietnamese prostitute. Suddenly bad shit happens - turns out when the Doctor's sonic screwdriver was confiscated by the Judoon someone's tampered with it, so when he next uses it a bunch of freaky spider men and the Advocate can break into the time machine and jettison the console room. The race is on to find another console room and hit the reset button and you know what that means - Invasion of Time style TARDIS chase sequences! Yay...

Except, no, it's ugly. It's terrible seeing everyone run from 80s roundels to 70s brickwork and Cloister Rooms and... dammit, didn't all this get blown up during the Time War? And it gets worse - the Advocate hides in Adric's bedroom and then tries to mess with Matthew's mind. Turns out all the Doctor's warnings about how dangerous TARDIS life are in issue two went over wee Matt's head and he's forced to listen to would-be-Hannibal-lectures: "Are you going to be a Turlough or just another Adric?"

Emily meanwhile gets to beat the shit out of spider-men with a cricket bat and then fall out of reality where some freaky Lovecraftian beings outside linear time warn her "the She-Creature" is deeply screwing up the universe. Then they threaten to kill her, just for a cliffhanger. Still, it's better than the Doctor, who's wandering around randomly quoting dialogue from The Daemons, State of Decay, The Ultimate Foe and An Unearthly Child. Not for any apparent reason, either. Finally Matthew finds what is, without doubt THE worst-drawn console room in all of human history, but decides he won't press the reset button because the Advocate has made him completely paranoid. This was NOT part of her cunning plan.

End result? The TARDIS explodes.

Hmm. Nice image. I bet the TV series will put it to much better use, right, Moff?

Those non-linear aliens decide this is crap and edit Emily back into history to press the button, stopping the TARDIS from exploding. A few hammer-whacks on the extrapolator surfboard sends the Advocate and her spider pals packing, and Matthew whines like a bitch that someone else saved the day instead of hovering on the spot blubbering like a baby man. What a jerk. He then goes and reads Vislor Turlough's diary which is oh-so-conveniently lying around for him to read.

Meanwhile, it turns out the lead spider-man was shape-shifting Finch. He and the Advocate were using the spider-people so the Shadow Proclamation will be after them, and not our nefarious duo, who have stolen something from the TARDIS - some kind of wierd Logie that will give the Advocate plus-a-million immortality and godlike power. Apparently it's a Terronite museum piece that got picked up at some point. Or something. Yet this amazingly powerful godlike alien couldn't simply nick it from Hollywoodland 1929 and had to risk tearing the universe apart? Gimme strength...

Then it's time to cliffhanger into the next story as Martha Smith-Jones (UNIT's acting scientific advisor now Malcolm's busy in Peru with the Brigadier and all the really cool folk) wanting the Doc back on Earth stat! The revelation that the artist could do Freema Agyeman's face better than anyone else in this scratchy rat's nest of artwork is almost as shocking as the revelation that Lady Christina continually makes prank calls to the TARDIS. Can I say, "WTF?!" and leave it at that?

This story wasn't particularly good, but after Fugitive it would be the apocalypse itself to do any worse. The fanwank seems to have turned from terribly-thought-out continuity references to visual gags like River's squareness gun or the TV Movie Cloister Room, but at the end of the day it is completely pointless. Matthew's turn to the dark side is so utterly abrupt and unprecedented (seriously, some random blue chick tells you some guy is evil without any proof at all or an explanation for what she's doing there and you completely buy it no questions asked) it could be damn well anywhere. The bit where two of the spider duds mistake a toy mouse for K9 was fun, though. Have no idea what the Captain Jack ref was about, though...

Rather like The Next Life, this story's best bit is the first scene of a completely different story. Unless you've got a fetish for really badly-drawn TARDIS corridors...


DON'T STEP ON THE GRASS

1: Old Friends
2: Touched by an Angel
3: Scorched Earth (AKA Weed Killer)
4: Drawing Straws

"Free! Free at last to destroy this pathetic race! Soon my angels will all be reborn...and the world will become our plaything! And it's all YOUR fault, Doctor!"

After the editor's fancy talk of not having to specify exactly where these stories take place - all the hints in Silver Scream, for example, are that it happened right after Journey's End - any such subtleties are taken outside and executed mercilessly. It's post POTD, sad to say, and some very blatant retcons are introduced in this story, which began prior to Waters of Mars and ended after The End of Time - so witness sudden random moments as Martha suddenly becomes married to Mickey, Joshua Naismith gets namechecked, all with the painful transparency of Dr. Evil doing the Marcarena to prove how cool and hip he is...

Oh well, that's the only real flaw with Don't Step on the Grass (at least in terms of flaws unique to this particular story, anyroads) as, for once, the art is of an above-acceptable quality. It's the quality I wish we got in animated episodes, if I'm honest.

The plot. Google maps show that the trees in Grenwich Park (a place rife with rift energy) are moving. And eating people. And black magic symbols carved in them. With Dr. Malcom "I LUV UUUU" Taylor in Peru with the Brig, Captain Magumbo calls in Martha SJ to help out and - against Martha's wishes - has her summon the Doctor, Emily and Matthew to Earth. They are introduced to Mr. Crane, part of the semi-masonic Society of Horticultural Historians (or "Knights Templar with rakes" as the Doctor puts it) and in a frustrationingly typical hard-to-follow info dump it turns out Elizabethan magician John Dee hid his library under the park along with some angels or other he'd trapped there. The Doctor sends Martha to UNIT's Black Archive from the SJAs (a storehouse of stuff it's probably best Torchwood never got its hands on) to get a Krynoid virus to stop the living trees of death! She also gets Matthew, suffering a severe case of self-pity and "Tin Dog syndrome" that makes even Martha want to slap him. But it quickly becomes clear that Mr. Crane has been cyber-stalking the Doctor, from Clive's fansites to the Shadow Proclamation files - and Martha announces apropos of nothing that IT'S A TRAP!!

Meanwhile, the Doctor has caught up with the Angels under the park. Man, these dudes look awesome - the offspring of a clockwork man and Mayeast from TMNT in her giant dominatrix robot form. The Angels explain they're just lonely old aliens trapped and the Doctor, softie that he is, releases them from the giant testtube they're trapped in whereupon gets told, "FOOL! TO FREE US IS A DEATH SENTENCE, MORTAL PUPPET!"

Yes, this would have been a brilliant twist... assuming, you know, it hadn't been done in The Unquiet Dead, or there was more than a panel of them being good before being bad, or if Martha wasn't running around in circles screaming "IT'S A TRAP!" numerous pages before. All the trees turn evil and it's cliffhanger time, with the not-at-all cheat resolution that the Doctor had already switched on a forcefield to trap the Angel ("I mean, come on! Dodgy-looking alien race I've never heard of? Just letting you go free and be dodgy-looking alien all over the place? Not on my watch, so I thought I'd test you. And you failed.") and so he and Emily exit stage freaking left while the Angel and Mr. Crane go machine gun crazy.

While UNIT do what they do best (ie, be slaughtered by the monster of the week), the Doctor and Emily wander to a secret cavern UNDERNEATH the secret cavern underneath the park, where a whacking great spaceship is parked, awaiting the arrival of lemon-soaked paper napkins or somesuch. Contained within are twenty thousand cryo-frozen Angels and the bones of John Dee, plus a hologram he made apologizing for the inconvenience. It turns out the Angels are energy beings who normally wear clockwork suits, but they'd downloaded themselves into the trees uptop, leading to the flora carnage of fatal death! Ahah, but the trees are trapped in the park, and can only move through the earth, not the concreted pavement, allowing Martha, Matthew, Magumbo and UNIT Grun # 5 (most likely someone beginning with M) to flee into the nearby Naval College. So don't worry about them.

Alas, the Advocate's behind all this (I know, you get more surprise out of the Master in Season 8) as Mr. Crane's study is full of sketches of the blue bint and Mr. Finch (disguised as UNIT Grunt # 4) is going on about how the Doctor's a dangerous threat who should be brought to account and dear god, does Matthew even HAVE a spine? This n00b is more easily swayed than Kamelion at a rave! The Advocate meanwhile decides to screw things up (from our point of view) by pressing some convenient button that releases all the clockwork bodies so the Angels can download back into them. Exactly why the Angels themselves couldn't do this themselves, I dunno. Maybe they couldn't read. It also does beg the question of why Madam Avocado didn't do this earlier if she wanted carnage, or why she WON'T STOP TALKING! Seriously, if you're going to talk to yourself, dialogue better than "Oh Doctor! Bravely sacrificing yourself so that the enemy cannot win, always so pious, always the martyr, whether you hold a life, a principle or even a moment in your hand! So noble, so stupid, because this time I'm here!"

But don't despair, PM Brown from Children of Earth - Knights Templar with rakes to the rescue to save England from the laser-dome it is now encased within by those pesky flying angels of death! "FOR THE GARDENERS!" they shout.

"I guess it sucks to be you, then!" the Doctor jeers when one comes to interrogate him - as it's Mr. Finch in another unconvincing disguise (BTW, in another retcon, it turns out "Mr. Finch" isn't the one we saw in School Reunion, just stole his identity... yeah, who cares? Wait, noone!). It turns out all this... ALL OF THIS... is a truly retarded Scooby-Doo prank, letting loose an alien invasion so Madame Avocardo can slut her way into UNIT and save the day. Indeed, it turns out that Advocate was nice in Fugitive, and actually instead of being killed, got teleported INTO THE MOTHERFUCKING TIME WAR. When she finally escaped she was a total evil bitch who then hired Mr. Finch to zap her into the Time War in the first place. Self-fullfilling timey-wimey business, but this is really screaming of "making this shit up as you go along" famed by such luminaries as Mark Goacher and his troglodytes. As the Doctor points out, this makes her vendetta bowel-shatteringly stupid - she might as well not have a motive! GOD DAMN IT!

But what's this? Mr. Finch has stupidly blabbed how dispensible Mr. Crane is IN FRONT of Mr. Crane, causing him to swap sides and save the Doctor. Must... kill... writer... and it turns out that three minutes with the Avocado mouthing off have convinced Magambo and all of UNIT the Doctor is a no-fist loser and cannot be trusted to save the world, relying instead on the person a bucketload of evidence points to actually starting the mess in the first place. The Doctor points out how fucking retarded Captain Magambo is being. She puts him under arrest and it's time for another cliffhanger, presumably for us to reflect that out of the whole world you'd think UNIT would know Doctor = Not Someone To Piss Off. That they'd actually be able to lock him up AT ALL suggests Magambo's IQ has dropped below Peri-in-the-Kingmakers... AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN GOT A NAME FOR THAT YET!

Part four begins with the trees going apeshit and London in flames (and Donna missed this... how?), while Magambo is right behind Avocado's suicidal "destroy Europe" Plan A, while she continues mouthing off about what a wanker the Doctor is - seemingly unaware that her wasting time bagging off her enemy for being a show off egomaniac comes across as monumentally hypocritical. The fact her face and body are designed to look as downright evil and sinister as possible doesn't help either. I mean, would YOU trust your school counsellor if he looked like Toby in The Satan Pit? No.

After telling Magambo she and UNIT can go fuck themselves, Martha and Emily get over themselves and rush to break the Doctor out of a cell with the help of the Knight Arboretum, as he points out that the Avocado's plan won't defeat the energy-based Angels, but take them all up to 11 - Magambo's just doomed all of civilization. And Matthew's gone on a suicide mission... wait, no, he hasn't, Mr. Crane has... no, wait, the Doctor stopped him... wait, no, the Angels were waiting for him... and so on and so on. The Doctor takes off the alien spaceship, which draws all the Angels off Earth, whereupon Mr. Crane sacrifices himself to blow them all up.

The Doctor returns to Earth where the Avocardo is jumping up and down saying the Doctor is evil and nastily-saved-all-of-life-on-Earth by allowing a suicidal old failure to die in a bomb that just happened to be boobytrapped by the Avocardo herself. Matthew the whining bitch decides to trust the blue chick instead of the Doctor, even after he point out that Turlough was too much of a party animal to keep a pathetic diary that the Avocardo handily found. Matthew, however, decides he'd rather be with the genocidal maniac than the Doctor, who confesses he doesn't give a tinker's cuss what Matthew does with his excuse for a life. Hey, did the Doctor ask Matthew to come along? No, he warned him off. Matthew only tagged along because he had the hots for Emily, the loser.

The Doctor and Emily leave in the TARDIS to have some proper adventures without Tosser Finnegan cramping their style, and the Doctor breaks the fourth wall entirely to give us the wink he's taking Emily to the chocolate milk shop from Agent Provocateur. Dear God, why does IDW hate me so?

The biggest problem I have with it is it's incredibly unsubtle "the Doctor is a bastard" plot thread - it seems the story arc for this isn't so much the Advocate's increasingly-retared schemes to cause mischief, but absolutely everyone taking time out of their precious schedule to call the Doctor a fuckwit to his face. Given Tennant's Doctor was dead and buried when this story finished, it feels about as appropriate as the Chaser's Eulogy song at a funeral. I mean, the first page has Martha Jones announcing she hates the sound of the Doctor's voice and telling Emily she left the TARDIS because "When you spend a year walking around the world telling people 'Clap if you believe in Time Lords', the novelty wears off." (So all the reasons she gave on television were utter lies and she never actually fancied the Time Lord once? Plus, describing the events of Children of Earth as "Torchwood having its own problems" is borderline holocaust-denying.)

Thankfully, the Tenth Doctor does not put up with this shit and rounds on Ms. Holier-Than-Thou, sneering, "The last time I saw you, you were THIS close to destroying the world with nuclear fire! And here you are, with UNIT. Again. I'm keeping an eye on you, Martha Jones. You're better than this." Which thankfully shuts her up. It might be nasty when the Avocado goes at her for all the humiliation Martha's suffered, but she's been such a bitch I just don't care if she gets upset. But then suddenly she's not the psycho bint of Journey's End (who "died" apparently according to Magambo) and we're supposed to suddenly like her. It's the OTHER black chick working at UNIT who's corrupted and annoying (unfortunate implications ahoy).

It actually ends with Captain Magumbo, having discovered she fell hook line and sinker for a con, ranting that she will NOT be lectured to and if the Doctor doesn't like it, he can just fuck off! "Get off this planet and don't come back until you have a different face again, because this one's worn out its welcome!" she rants, running off before anyone can realize what a gutless bitch she's been. Christ, it's impressive that this comic manages to make EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER so utterly unsympathetic you end up wanting them ALL to die!


DOCTOR WHO ANNUAL 2O1O

1: Ground Control
2: The Big, Blue Box
3: To Sleep, Perchance to Scream
4: Old Friend

"Well, that's... sad. Sad. And adorable!"

Comic annuals are really an American innovation, since anywhere else it'd just be a reprint collection. This time there's a whole bunch of new material, but one of which is utterly vital in order to following the ongoing story arc - otherwise they can't guarantee you'd buy it, could they?

First off is Ground Control by Jonathon Davies and Kelly Yates. Oh, Yates, where have you been all this franchise? Someone who can actually draw! Someone who grasps the concept of flashbacks to aid exposition! You are too good for this sinfully-short one off, you really are. And this is the first time in the series the TARDIS goes "vworp", you know!

The plot: a post-Donna solo Doctor is taken aback when the TARDIS is drawn to the Interstellar Traffic Control in 6558. Since the TARDIS is meant to be piloted by six people, travels faster than life by a man who not only failed his driving test but also pilots it while in an altered state of consciousness (ie, regenerating), it looks like the Doctor's gonna lose his license. As is often in these stories, the Doctor's one step ahead of the good-natured acne-ridden Mister K - and it turns out he's a bitter loony with a holodeck and a tractor beam determined to get vigilante justice against front-seat drivers like the Doctor.

"I have to destroy your advanced technology," the Doctor says apologetically.

"You can't do that?"

One sonic screwdriver later...

"You stand corrected."

It's a neat little tale with an excuse to get a shitload of monsters and companions back - "evidence" of the Doctor's reckless driving (and also that RTD regenerations don't really work as drawings... seriously), and of course the hilarious and recurring image of a panda with an orange cape and an arrow getting swept along in the TARDIS' slipstream. The fetus corn fields? Not so much, but probably the best story in the collection if I'm brutally honest.

The next story is The Big, Blue Box which is written by Matthew Dow Smith and more unfortunately also drawn by him. The same bloke who perpetrated Fugitive, it's a very uninteresting tale about some random dude called Douglas who has spent his whole life being haunted by sights of the TARDIS usually involving wierd crap happening. Basically, it's the first episode of The Haunting of Thomas Brewster, only with more aliens. And a less irritating protagonist. Who turns out to be a walking bomb. From the Time War. Some aliens try to kidnap Douglas for nefarious purposes, so he blows himself up. But he gets better. The end.

Not the most epic of tales but at least it had a plot, which is more than be said for To Sleep, Perchance to Scream, which is a riot of fanwank without rhyme or reason - one long nightmare sequence that might once have had some thematic relevance a couple of years ago but is now only worth for spotting monsters and companions. The artwork's not bad, but there's not much being done with it.

Going to bed (and inexplicably seeing the faces of his first three faces in the mirror) the Doctor dreams of landing on a wartorn planet where he meets Sarah Jane Smith who warns him a shitload of big bads are coming.


So they run away, with Sarah turning into Adric, Susan, Kamelion, Astrid and - for some reason - Turlough... three times... before falling into the void. The weeping Doctor is drawn to a blue goblin with some bongo, playing a familiar four beat tune. But he's niether death nor the Master, and pulls a blob of nasty emotion from the Doctor's chest and directs him up a hill to where the Eleventh Doctor tells his past self to chill out and stop angsting. The angst-free Tenth Doctor wakes up and visits the world from his dream, except it's not wartorn but paradise. The End.

Whatever.

The last story returns to the ongoing story arc, and we not only get more Dow Smith artwork by Tony Lee writing it again (seemingly forgetting he'd used the title in the immediately previous story, *facepalm*). So, Old Friends. You know, there was a theory back in 2008 that the Doctor's whole relationship with River Song was simply a masterplan by the Doctor to uphold history and he had deliberately set her up to die at the library. At the time, we all thought that was a hideously coldblooded and premeditated bastardry that we'd rather not have our Doctor doing.

But here, that's what the Doctor's done - deliberately teamed up with some dude called Barnaby Edwards so when he's terminally ill in a retirement home, he can give a final cryptic clue when his past incarnation and Emily turn up by accident. And that message: do something about Matthew. That's it. My god, it's as hideously ugly as the rendition of Emily, looking more like something out of Picasso's works than the madam of a Eurasian brothel! Then the bastards go and make mention of The Forgotten, just to really add that extra layer of warm crap to it.

No doubt that any new readers would have been completely bewildered by this ugly extra story, and quite probably put off the ongoing saga as a result... if only for the truly, truly dreadful artwork. I don't dig Paul Grist's artwork, but at least that IS artwork and not this scratchy incoherent mess. I just hope they stop employing him when the new Doctor arrives...


FINAL SACRIFICE

1: Extraordinary Travellers
2: Whirled War, Too!
3: Reunion
4: The End of Everything


"Timey wimey gibbedly gobbedly goop."

One can't but feel some pity for this comic series. They try to big up their own series with a main character who's been dead for six months, and a threat to the universe when The End of Time and The Pandorica Opens had been and gone. There's a limit to what you can pull off in a missing adventure, but it seems no one involved in this actually twigged to that. The universe won't end, the Tenth Doctor won't die and no one but no one gives a shit what happens to Matthew or Emily or the Avocardo or Arist Formally Known As Mr. Finch. They then get Matthew Dow Jones or whoever he is to make the artwork as close to unreadable as possible.

You don't often come across such self-defeating insanity outside the Torchwood franchise, do you?

Pitched rather untruthfully as "the final adventure of his tenth incarnation", Final Sacrifice kicks off in 1906 with Lewis and Cooper - the Torchwood twats from The Time Machination - have got an Oxford Professor called Hugh to build a Stargate-style time out of the "alien tripod in Surrey" (I have no idea) and the "giant metal man in the Thames" (the CyberKing last seen being blasted into the time vortex and nowhere near the Thames?). Torchwood wants to plunder the future and create a Golden Age with the usual small-minded petty bastardry that is clearly why RTD hates the organization so very, very much.

But instead of arriving in 1926, the Torchwood gang arrive on a wartorn alien planet in 20,1926 with the Doctor and Emily (there seems to be a cut panel, as the Doctor mocks Lewis for mentioning King Edward when... well, he didn't). Recognizing the pinstriped enemy of the realm, Torchwood pull out the guns but the Doctor is too quick on the draw with his sonic screwdriver - maybe it's to demonstrate how things are so utterly serious, but I'm so sick of this "bitchy continuity arguments" shit I'm glad it just stopped and something vaguely approaching a plot could be allowed to begin. "You need me, I don't need you," he warns the obnoxious bastards, who take heed. For once. Well, for a few minutes. Until they finally decide to listen to the last thirty years of Captain Jack's gushing reputation and suddenly decide the Doctor's probably a nice guy.

The Doctor and pals are immediately captured by one side of the alien war, the Soul Free and the Terror Farmers, both trying to break into the temple the Kol'Ne Wah. Emily explains all this in the usual speech-bubble heavy manner before the leader of Soul Free is revealed to be Mr. Finch! He reveals he's quit the Avocado, who has been pulling all these retarded stunts to get her hands on that wierdo Logie-thing from the Terronite brain-sucker, which she recharged using the Angel spaceship, and now brought to its planet of origin: here.

Meanwhile, the Avocado is around, still poisoning that loser Matthew's mind - he's now so brain-damaged he doesn't get the concept of time travel and assumes that the Doctor and Emily will be two years older than when he last saw them, because he hasn't seen them for two years. Oh, god, I cannot wait for this wanker to die. I really cannot. Someone so utterly pathetic it causes nothing but hatred. The Chatham factor I call it. She sends some assassins to capture the Doctor and Emily - but captured Emily and Mr. Finch (cunningly shape-shifted into a copy of the Time Lord, leaving the real one at liberty). Her plans for the Doctor are niether original or wholesome - a much, MUCH better villain had the Doctor kept in a kennel and never pretended it was for the Doctor's kinky enjoyment...

Matthew rushes to meet Emily who finally does what I've wanted to do all along and bitchslaps the spineless goon and proves what a wasteless git he is - Turlough never wrote a diary, as she's met him on Trion. (Hmm - after all this obsession with old Vislor, and his repeated cameos... we never get to see this momentous scene? Oh well, it could only be crap, based on prior works in this series...) And then the Avocado bitchslaps Matthew as well, and then declares herself Queen of the Terror and orders Emily and Finch to fight to the death. Give me a fucking break...

But it gets worse, sports fans! Given weapons, rather than attack each other, Emily and Finch try to escape and the all powerful big bad Avocado is left shouting things like "DON'T JUST STAND THERE, SHOOT THEM!" then changes her mind and dear god, is a cliffhanger THAT difficult for Mr. Lee to understand!

The Doctor takes charge of Soul Free with an inspiring speech: "Can we beat the Terror Farmers? Come on! They're called the Terror Farmers! I mean, that's like taking on the Horror Bakers or the Scary Grocers! Piece of cake!" And, after reassuring loyalty from Cooper with the old "five words" shtick, they head into the Kol-Ne-Wah temple - easily unlocked by Cooper, who is (unlike most folk on this planet) not radioactive. But, the Doctor twigs, this could be why the Avocado has been keeping Matthew around, as a living key to the temple.

...although he's been on the planet for two years. And is thus probably a touch radioactive by now. What? Logic? Reason? What are they doing here!

It turns out that it's another ripoff of The Doctor's Daughter - Kol'Ne Wa is Colony One, settled by the human race thousands of years ago using a funky alien terraformer (Terror Farmer? Get it?) to make the planet like Sol 3 (Soul Free? No? Little bit?). Turns out the terraformer wipes out all but a handful of human beings INSIDE Colony One who have degenerated into these gun-totting soldiers ever since. For some reason.

Meanwhile, those Lovecraftian aliens the Tef'Aree are back, reminding Emily she was destined to die in Silver Scream and she can't keep avoiding her fate forever. Then they give a typically cryptic and unhelpful warning and then bugger off again, leaving her in her cell. But luckily Matthew has finally got off his arse, freed Mr. Finch (disguised as Matthew) and he rescues Emily! Yay! The Tef'Aree also pops by Matt's cell to also describe how non-linearly stuffed he is, which he takes with even more wangst than normal. God damn it, just DIE already!

The Avocado sends her troops to the Colony, forcing the Doctor and Hugh to hide in the TARDIS while capturing the gormless Lewis and convincing him to join the enemy of his enemy's enemy. The Avocado wants to use the terrformer to reboot the whole planet and create a new species of Terranites. Or something. Bloody hell, the woman's a compulsive liar and yet never says anything remotely interesting. And the rabid xenophobe Lewis is fine helping out some blue chick with devil eyes. My god.

And so, Cooper is leading the Soul Free and Lewis is leading the Terror Farmers into one massive conflict, seemingly for no other reason than when the Avocado uses Matthew to activate the terraformer and slaughter everyone on the planet, it will be twice as nasty as it would otherwise. As the "testosterone male bonding" (as Emily dubs it... 1920s starlets knew about testosterone?!), the Doctor and Hugh arrive before the Doctor buggers off in the TARDIS, leaving Hugh to explain that, you know, we're all human underneath and bullshit like that. Cooper is a stubborn moron and goes so far as to smash the one gizmo that protects the colony from the terraformer - what a fuckwit. Then he shoots Emily dead, in case his assholedom didn't matter.

The Avocado teleports herself and Matthew to a space station to activate the terraformer and when Matthew puts his foot down for once in his life, the Avocado simply shrugs and shoots the fucker, using his palm print to activate the terraformer anyway. If it was that damn easy, I have to wonder why she didn't just cut his hand off and use that? Tch. Oh yes, she hates the Doctor for absolutely no reason and wants to make him suffer.

The TARDIS arrives on the station and Doctor (in his fetching space suit destined to survive this story to be in Waters of Mars - oh, what a tension killer) and discovers that to shut off the terraformer, he must kill Matthew. Hmm. Well, if I hadn't seen this scenario done MUCH, MUCH, MUCH better in Season Five of Buffy, I might be vaguely interested. But come on... what kind of dilemma is that? The Doctor's known Matthew for roughly two days. The Doctor, the guy who was willing to incinerate HIS ENTIRE SPECIES for the greater good. He doesn't even like Matthew! And, given how utterly psychotic the Tenth Doctor can get when he thinks his companions are dead (or just gone, like Rose), is there supposed to be some kind of tension here?

Out of fifteen issues, Emily and Matthew have barely been in ten - one defined as not actually having a personality and the other for being a gullible crybaby - and have done next to BUGGER ALL. I felt more of an emotional connection to Heather McCrimmon and Wolfie Ryder, the Tenth Doc's companions in Doctor Who Adventures, perhaps because of their lack of cowardice, wangst, and the fact they actually played a role in events and the Doctor enjoyed their company. It's like trying to get us really upset about the deaths of Lytton and Griffiths - sorry, not good enough. Hanging around on the TARDIS set and a few one-liners don't cut it.

But what's this? By the defective contraceptives of Lucinda J Nob-Gobbler! The Avocado has some kind of tazer that will drain the life out of the Doctor! Not that she intends to use it. She just wants to guilt-trip the Doctor into either killing Matthew or letting the unnamed planet die. Rather begging the question of what she's going to do if, say, the Doctor laughed in her face and snuffed out Matthew right there and then. How exactly does this make Matthew "the Doctor's death" anyway? She could have zapped him any time... for Christ's sake...

(As a side note, if you want a morally ambiguous hero confronted with horrible choices and a past that would make most villains blush, I recommend Deadpool. The fact he has the guts to admit what he has done and refuses to wallow in self-pity, even when he's left in Hell, make him so much more endearing than absolutely anyone in this franchise. If ever you're at a comic shop and it's a choice between one of these issues and a Merc With A Mouth? Use money wisely and go for the dude with the yellow speech bubbles and the lust for Bea Arthur.)

Where was I? Oh yes. Cooper explains his suicidal insanity is merely suicidal naivete - while he has doomed the planet he is RIDICULOUSLY confident the Avocado will come and save him. Ye Gods, how badly was this moron holding back the Torchwood Institute? When he finally dies, even Mr. Finch boggles "OK, now I believe in karma."

But wait, what's her name... Emily, yeah, that's it! It turns out, in a contrivance so unforgivable you'd be BEGGING for convenient severed hands, that the fake Turlough's diary our personality-free starlet just HAPPENED to have shoved down her cleavage for no reason whatsoever, magically absorbed the laser beam and she is, in fact, perfectly all right. Not a cop out at all, eh, readers? And, of course, Mr. Finch can shape-shift into the missing circuits to repair the damaged force field. But this will conveniently prove fatal, what with this being "FINAL ISSUE" and all...

Back up in the platform, the Avocado is still wasting page space trying to guilt-trip the Doctor for all the deaths that she, herself, is admitting to cause. My god, woman, you are dumber than WOTAN! Sir Alistair Miles would be a more convincing big bad than you! Even Matthew can't put up with her shit any more and kills her and sacrifices himself in a cheap negative effect - hmm, guess since people have sacrificed THEMSELVES rather than the Doctor doing it, that means the Avocado's evil plan is rendered without doubt the biggest waste of time since The Idiot's Lantern.

So, feeling a bit emo, the Doctor takes Matt's corpse back to the planet to show off to everyone but... wait a minute, it turns out that Matt's actually transformed into the Tef'aree, having ascended to a higher plain of existence. In fact, the whole "race of Tef'aree" is actually Super-Matt being seen in all points through time. And with his godlike powers, Super-Matt has actually been running the entire story arc, manipulating the Avocado's retarded schemes specifically to lead to this creation of him being a god. Wibblywobblytimeywimey. Oh, no, wait, it's the discovery that the entire story arc was even MORE pathetic than than the one we were lead to believe - instead of some blue chick's madcap scheme, it's a glowy energy being writing himself into existence. Hmm, not a bit like the DoctorDonna then, huh? Oh, wait, it isn't because us readers are medically incapable of giving a crap Matthew Finnegen before, during or after his ascension.

The Doctor points out that Super-Matt is a complete manipulative bastard, but being outside time, Super-Matt already knew the Doctor would say that and promises that one day the Doctor will believe this self-justifying bollocks and actually agree that the relentless slaughter of innocents was for the greater good. Super-Matt then buggers off, finally getting the message after sixteen issues comparable to Rimmer and Glen Miller: we don't want him - go away - you took him, you can keep the smegger.

Pausing only to explain this "gobbeldy-goop" is one big time loop to ensure that the events of Silver Scream take place, the Doctor leaves in the TARDIS with that professor dude and Emily. The Torchwood chick who's name I don't remember stays on the planet who's name I don't remember to help unify the warring tribes who's names I do sort of remember but can't be arsed to type out.

Conveniently, it turns out that the prof's doomed sidekick/lab assistant was a static point in time and history dictated she lived. Hmm, lucky that the Doctor knows a chick who's ALSO a static point in time who can easily replace her - yep, Emily gets her marching orders. We wouldn't want her to actually demonstrate any free will, character or anything bar being an American blonde dressed as a Thaiwanese hooker, would we? Yes, and Emily must change her name, bet on a specific horse and then fund the career of... ARCHIE MAPLIN!!! More closed time loops. Who was it who said free will wasn't an illusion? Cause the writer sure forgot! Hell, let's have the exact events from the start of Silver Screen, only drawn much MUCH worse this time! Brilliant!

The Doctor pops back to give the frazzled remains of Turlough's diary to Barnaby Edwards (cynically wasting the guy's life to close the time loop) and rashly promising to meet the professor again at some point. Or other. Who cares? But wait, the Doctor arbritarily decides to go to Mars instead! Cause, you know, he's in that orange space suit and everything! So for Waters of Mars and stuff! IT'S GENIUS, DO YOU SEE? If you don't, there's a quote from the First Doctor in The Tenth Planet...

Well, if I was generous it might explain why the Doctor snaps when he gets caught in yet another fixed point in time... but I'm not. I might have if the art wasn't so utterly disgusting. Oh for the good old days of TV Comic and John Canning... Final Sacrifice wasn't worth it. I got more enjoyment out of the Transformers preview in the rest of the comic.

WHAT THOSE OTHER LOSERS SAID IN THE LETTERS COLUMN...

"I wanna Torchwood crossover!" - Bob Patterson

"Is this going to be crap?" - Jeffrey Thompson

"Meh. I prefer DWM reprints." - Kris Nelson

"Seriously, is this going to be crap?" - Jeffrey Thompson

"Emily gives me the fucking horn." - Alex Campbell

"Why does no one else write to you? Do they think this going to be crap?" - Jeffrey Thompson

"Oh god, Emily is hot. Can you imagine what Amy Pond will be like? OR CHARLEY POLLARD?!? Did I just put a canoe in my pocket? Down boy! Down!" - Alex Campbell

"That last story you did wasn't crap. Will the next one be crap?" - Jeffrey Thompson

"I thought this was going to be crap. I have yet to be convinced otherwise. When's Amy Pond going to turn up?" - X.T. McMenamin

"Paul Grist sucks." - Joseph E. Toth

"That annual you did. It was crap, wasn't it?" - Jeffrey Thompson

"I want the reprints from DWM. This new stuff sucks." - Roger M Smith

"Those variant covers you did were crap. I want Jenny, the Intergalactic Lara Croft! Only with bigger jugs, obviously. Or it'd be crap." - Jeffrey Thompson


A quick duck into the forbidden realms of Gallifrey Base show that IDW's series isn't exactly the most popular either. Tony Lee's pissweak defense against the backlash at Silver Scream's atrocious artwork and exhorbitant cost was simply "buy the whole set, it might become fashionable one day". I mean... I have no words to cover how bathetic that is. As GBers noted: "Interesting promotion technique - 'writer begs readers to buy comic'..."

Tony Lee: I beg you, BEG you. All of you. I'm a comic fan and I've stopped buying titles in the past when I've not liked the artist. And then down the line I've been told about how great the comic is and I've kicked myself. A comic is more than just the writing. Or the art. it's everything, and I ask you to put aside one if you believe in the other. Even if you don't like the style, give it a try at least. Because at the end of the day people ignoring the book = crappy sales and that = cancellation. If the books still going, you have more time to push for a different artist. Or even a better writer.

So that's the moral kids - put up with substandard rubbish without complaint. It might get better!

Oh, and since the issues (which have the last ten pages or so nothing but adds) are a touch expensive, what does head honcho recommend?

Tony Lee: May I suggest some of the sellers on Ebay?

...

Now, I don't want to relentlessly destroy IDW's comics (I think Mr. Lee's best qualified for that), and I concede this range has some huge problems not of its making. For a start, they are fan-made - in the sense they are not being done by people with access to the production team, like DWM. DWM, notably, didn't attempt any kind of story arc until the show was effectively off-air for two years and even THEN made absolutely no attempt to tie in or influence the ongoing story arc. DWM's knack was to always concentrate on stories and tie on the characters as best they can - The Woman Who Sold The World, for example, would work fine with any companion, but since Martha's there, they put effort into that.

But IDW instead has tried to bolt on an entire story-arc INSIDE another story arc, the nature of which they were completely ignorant of, using characters they constantly needed to revise, and ending up entirely out of sync with the show. I get people wanted more Tenth Doctor stories, I get that, but we end up with a subpar saga continually defeated by its own missing adventure status. I mean, even if this came out before The End of Time, sixteen issues of people telling the Doctor he was complete crap and being totally ungrateful wouldn't appeal to me anyway. Ten had enough damn angst to start with, now we get MORE dead companions, and buried in intricate fanwank and circular plotting that ends up more unimaginative than clever.

Imagine if they'd pulled this stunt with an earlier Doctor - the Fourth, pre-Leela, who teams up with two non-entities fighting a plotless villain assisted by Broton the Zygon (actually a completely different person, just called that for convenience), teaming up with a Monoid, a Yeti and a Kroton to defeat them... see? It's shit even as I type. The flaws are obvious. Why are you people doing these stupid things, sidelining companions and then expecting us to care about killing them off, or leaping through loops to make EVERY story a quest by one villain which is then explained to be worthless. Add to that some artwork so atrocious I would not wrap thy fish and chips in it, and we have an ongoing series that does far more bad than good. IDW's screwed over Panini, and for what?

THIS DRIVEL?!

The good characterization of the Tenth Doctor and a handful of funny one-liners don't balance it out, in my hideously unworthy opinion.

Oh well. There are promises that the next era of "Doctor Who Ongoing" (which, BTW, has also killed off the DWm reprints, presumably because they were so much popular) will be an improvement on what came before. Gary Russell will no longer be fanwanking all over it and with a proper cast of well-defined regulars there won't be all this irritating backstabbing angst. Surely it couldn't be any worse than what has already been released? Right?

...right?

...Oh god, they're getting Matthew "Art Bitch" Dow Smith to do the artwork - Matt Smith drawing for Matt Smith.

As the Brigadier would never say, "Kill me now, Yates."

2 comments:

Miles Reid said...

I think you mistook what I said, Ewen. It's BBC Books desire to produce their own line of graphic novels that has seemingly killed the Panini DWM reprints.

To be fair, as generic as 'The Only Good Dalek' is, I did enjoy it. But I'd much rather have 'The Crimson Hand' to buy and read.

Youth of Australia said...

I think you mistook what I said, Ewen. It's BBC Books desire to produce their own line of graphic novels that has seemingly killed the Panini DWM reprints.
...well. Yeah.

But it was IDW that killed off the reprints of DWM strips in colour from the 80s!

To be fair, as generic as 'The Only Good Dalek' is, I did enjoy it. But I'd much rather have 'The Crimson Hand' to buy and read.
Indeed.

I actually got TOGD

- the hardback cover thing is just pretentious
- the colouring is awful; everyone... even DALEKS... have brown eyes
- I might have forgiven photoshop used to sample one drawing of a Dalek over and over again to create an army, but things like Amy looking out a window? The fact it was atrociously poor cropping didn't help either
- what, so The Dalek Masterplan was fought by New Paradigm Daleks?
- the Hartnell era monsters were crap or used badly. Let's be honest here, they should have done The Walking Dead with Vaaga Plants, now THAT would have been interesting
- Tranter is called Tarrant at one point. It could have been a joke, but it seems to be a typo
- Selestru from Dalek Empire 3? That's as logical as Chantho on Castrovalva!

But worst of all was the fact that I'D wanted to do an Alien: Resurrection style Dalek story with them treated as dangerous animals behind glass. These gits got there first, and ended up using the same basic plot that would have been in The Dalek Project (and Victory of the Daleks).

Something NEW would be nice...