In Review: Doctor Who Event 2015: Four Doctors #3

Doctors make terrible decisions and the fourth Doctor is revealed: This was great!

The covers: The eleventh Doctor is running forward with a surprising solemn face, his sonic screwdriver gleaming a green that marks the warp field behind him, which contrasts nicely with the red. A solid image of one of the Doctors that gets a lot of screen time in this issue, drawn by interior artist Neil Edwards. The B cover, the Subscription cover, is a photo cover featuring Matt Smith pointing in the direction he’d like to go. Smith has been superimposed atop the warp image that’s on all of this series’ covers. This is an excellent image of him, so this is the one I had to purchase. The C cover is the companion cover and this month features Alice Obiefune, the companion to number eleven in his comic adventures from Titan. The illustration is by Elena Casagrande and Arianna Florean. Alice’s pose tells her readers her personality, and I love it! Overall grades: A A-, B A+, and C A

The story: Writer Paul Cornell starts things quickly with Alice, companion to the eleventh Doctor, stunned that the three Doctors have posed for the picture that Clara has said foreshadows the end of the universe. As the Time Lords ponder their situation a BING alerts them to “Lots of explody death rays!” as stated so succinctly by number eleven. All six people run off into a structure for safety. It’s a maze and the three companions are now with different Doctors: Alice with number ten, Gabby with twelve, and Clara with eleven. I would have enjoyed more time to see — and hear — the conversations between these characters, but they all quickly come to the center of the maze and discover something that will propel them into a new direction. Don’t blink! Not because there are weeping angels in this issue, but because the story is moving at lightning speed. Cornell impressively has the characters either encountering new threats or witnessing events that never should have occurred. Page 8 was a real stunner that balloons into a stunning turn on 10 — this is an absolutely blasphemous scene that hit me hard. It shouldn’t have happened, yet it did! An equally terrible turn, though in less obvious way, occurs just after this. Page 12 has the final twist in a Doctor’s life, culminating in an excellent surprise on 20. The clues were there all along, so this shouldn’t have been such a shock, but it was. Cornell has got me counting down to next Wednesday. What a cliffhanger! Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals of this book go from good to passable. I wouldn’t say that there any missteps in what Neil Edwards does in this issue, but there are times when panels aren’t as strong as others. The book starts very strongly on Page 1 with a nice establishment shot of Alice and the others on the desert world. He captures the likenesses of the Doctors well, with Clara and number eleven looking excellent at the bottom. 2 is a full page splash of the characters dashing off from destruction, and eleven, again, looks best. Once mixed up, ten doesn’t look too good on 3, though eleven is fine. The device that all find in the center of the maze looks perfect: it’s like a piece of missing tech from one of the series’ episodes, especially with the design at the top. Alice looks amazing on 6 and the splash on 7 spectacular: that page would be a budget buster on the show. The next two pages wonderfully show a traumatic decision from one Doctor’s past, and 10 has that Doctor clothed in garb that I never would have expected to see him in. The setting on 11 is, again, spectacular. On 12 and 13 things are hard to make out, especially the identity of the new female character. I liked the design of the new character on 14, but the Doctors don’t look much like themselves, including earlier in the issue. Things gradually improve, with the final five pages being strong again. So there is a lull or two in quality, but this still looks good. Overall grade: B

The colors: There is some very realistic coloring on this issue from Ivan Nunes. Though there are several fantasy settings, the colors are grounded in the real world and seemed as if they could be from a modern day Who episode. The desert has some strong browns for the sand, and they create nice explosions when the death rays rain down upon our heroes. I also like how Nunes uses solid colors for backgrounds in certain panels, such as on Pages 1, 4, 9, 13, 14, and 21. The colors on 8 and 9 perfectly mirrored the episode they’re from, and the bright pinks on 10 are stunning. The coloring on 11 is reminiscent of Victorian utopias, and the exteriors of the TARDIS zipping through space gorgeous. Nunes is master. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create dialogue and narration (the same font), sounds, and next issue’s tease. I wanted the dialogue and narration to be two different fonts, but this pair more than made up for that with some fun sounds and yells. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Doctors make terrible decisions and the fourth Doctor is revealed: This was great! I got the payoff I wanted from last issue’s build. The dialogue was fun, the action good, and the visuals pleasing. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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