Published on August 12th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
Four Doctors #1 Review
A few months ago Titan Comics announced a crossover story comic to feature all three of their current Doctor Who tie in comics (and a fourth Doctor who was kept all under wraps). The first issue of that comic was released this week and it is a massive Doctor Who-athon.
Paul Cornell is not new to writing Doctor Who, he has been producing outstanding Who related fiction from a time when Doctor Who was written primarily by fans for fans. His novel Human Nature was voted the best of the New Adventures series in a 1998 poll by Doctor Who magazine and he adapted this for David Tennant’s tenure in the TV series. Those two episodes are among the best Doctor Who episodes ever written. Add to this his collection of books and Big Finish* audio dramas and there doesn’t seem to be anyone better placed to write an ambitious multi-Doctor story**.
So, high praise for Cornell but does Four Doctors live up to his past success? In a word, yes. He writes each incarnation of the Doctor as if they’d just stepped out of an episode of the TV series, including the War Doctor who hasn’t had much screen time. If you don’t hear John Hurt in your head when you’re reading his speech you probably have never heard of John Hurt. Each one of the Doctors have the characteristics you’d associate with that particular incarnation and the resulting argument in the café is exactly how it would happen. The entire scene highlights the differences between the Doctors and how they have been portrayed on screen; this is only possible by being a fan of the show and it’s obvious that Cornell is a fan.
The Doctor’s companions (with the exception of Clara) might not be as well known, it’s more than possible that people reading this comic won’t have read the other monthly titles, but they still have their individual voices and provide the backbone to the story. It’s testament to Cornell’s writing skills that Clara annoys me as much in this comic as she did in the last series***, that’s how well the character is written.
Enough about the writing, what about the art? Well, it’s an absolute joy. The layout and detail of the pages are wonderful and the story flows from panel to panel effortlessly. The elaborate backgrounds set the scenes without drawing away focus from the action or narration. Each of the characters have a range of emotions that are clearly depicted with subtlety and style: Alice is stern and flippant while Clara has a sense of worry in pretty much every scene.
During the Time War, the War Doctor (yes, that’s John Hurt you can hear in your head) makes a promise that’s going to come back and bite him on the ass. Meanwhile in Paris, 1923, Clara is armed with a photo and a warning of impending doom and all she needs to do to save everything is keep the Doctor away from himself. That’s not going to be hard is it?
The rest of the story can wait until you read it but Cornell takes the opportunity to reintroduce a monster he’s previously written and it provides a fitting and nail-biting cliffhanger.
This comic reads and feels like something special. Not to take anything away from the other Doctor Who titles that are currently on sale but it’s like comparing the 50th anniversary special to episode 6 of whatever series is currently on. Every element of it works together to create a thrilling and humorous comic that any fan of Doctor Who will enjoy reading.
Title: Doctor Who: Four Doctors
Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Neil Edwards
Colourist: Ivan Nunes
*I’m going to leave a link to the Big Finish web site here because if you haven’t heard any of these audio dramas you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Colin Baker will make you reconsider his interpretation of the Doctor.
**He has also written a selection of worthy comics but they don’t feature the Doctor so you’ll have to go elsewhere to find them
***I know people like Clara and if you did, you’ll like her here