Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #4

7

Good

FourthDoctor4VC-minSelling a reasonably respectable 7,187 copies in August 2016, this penultimate instalment to Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby’s myth-laden magnum opus finally places the titular character at the very centre of the action, and resultantly starts to decisively explain what a living Medusa was doing imprisoned within a labyrinthine catacomb in “Greece twenty-four centuries before the modern day”. Admittedly, this twenty-two page periodical still provides a modicum of ‘screen-time’ for Lady Emily Carstairs and “her small army of Scryclops”, but for once, the mini-series’ episodic narrative actually spends the vast majority of its time focusing upon Doctor Who and the bohemian’s nervy exploration of the his cavernous surroundings with Athena, and simultaneous scientific clarification as to the nature of the “particularly vile — predatory alien species” which they’re facing.

Indeed, one of the book’s more tensely-felt moments is arguably when the Time Traveller unknowingly begins enlightening his Victorian London-born companion as to the alien’s ability to petrify its prey “in a basic form of quantum-locking… so the creature can feed on them at its leisure, drawing from their life energy”, just as the grotesque-looking extra-terrestrial is about to sate her ravenous appetite upon Sarah Jane Smith elsewhere; “Miss Smith! Oh my heavens, No!” Mercifully, such an ill-fitting demise for “one of the Doctor’s longest-serving companions” is averted by the poorly-timed audible exclamation of a mortally wounded Odysseus James, yet even so, despite its readers knowing full well that the female reporter must most-assuredly outlast her stony state, the scintillating scene still conjures up the plausible possibility of the “dogged investigative journalist” dying “rather deep underground”.

Sadly, the survivability of this comic’s “expert” in chrononautology is shown to be an entirely different matter, as the hapless Professor James desperately tries to defend his daughter from a brutish one-eyed giant, and pays for his surprising bravery by having his calcified left side heart-breakingly pulverised into rubble. Of course this murderous act finally raises Carstair’s character to indisputable odious villainess, as opposed to her previous status of simply being a misguided widower dangerously desperate to do all she can to rid herself of both her debilitatingly blighted physical transformation and restore her dead family to her side. However it still comes as something of a shock considering the blustering buffoon has previously ‘grown’ into such a likeable aged coward.

Disappointingly though, Issue Four of “Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor” does seemingly still fall into the trap debatably a few of the Time Lord’s television serials succumbed to, by bringing its well-working exploration of myth and legend to a disconcerting end with the Gallifreyan’s teleportation aboard a giant alien’s spaceship. This unoriginal plot-twist really does jar with the claustrophobic aura of nightmarish monsters tirelessly chasing after the comic book’s cast through ancient Greece, especially as Brian Williamson pencils the heavily-bearded all-powerful celestial as a space-faring incarnation of the god Zeus…

Publisher
This article is the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of the site owner.
7

Good

Reviewed by
For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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