Friday, 18 May 2018

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #4 - Titan Comics

Selling 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 predominantly focuses upon Doctor Who and both the bohemian's nervy exploration of the his cavernous surroundings with Athena, as well as the Gallifreyan's 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…

‘First published on the "Dawn of Comics" website.'
The regular cover art of "DOCTOR WHO: THE FOURTH DOCTOR" No. 4 by Mark Wheatley

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