In Review: Doctor Who Event 2015: Four Doctors #4

Some excellent twists and turns with visuals that could be stronger.

The covers: Another threesome to find as you read about this foursome. The A cover is by interior artist Neil Edwards, featuring an image of Doctor twelve looking very dour as he bolts at the reader lead by his sonic screwdriver. I like this version of this Doctor, who looks a little more action oriented than what has been seen of him on the small screen. Edwards has put a nice bit of motion into the figure with one leg back, showing him running, and his coat splayed open nicely. As with the previous A covers this one has the computer generated warp field behind him, with the colors above and below it red. The B cover is a photo cover of Peter Capaldi, who has his hands clasped before him as he looks to his left in a bemused fashion. This gives him a kinder tone that what he’s been doing on the show. I like photo covers and I like seeing this Doctor this way, so this is the one I purchased. The C cover is a companions cover by Elena Casagrande and Arianna Florean featuring Clara Oswald. I would not have know this was Clara if I hadn’t known that she was the only remaining companion not to have her own cover. She looks very heavy in this illustration, and her expression is intended to be knowing, but it comes off as snarky. This is the first companions cover I haven’t liked. Overall grades: A A-, B A+, and C C-

The story: This penultimate chapter penned by Paul Cornell opens seconds after last issue’s reveal: crazy Doctor twelve from the future is actually the leader of the Voord. As he dons the helmet of that race, he speaks that after Clara was sent away, he was lonely and lost until he encountered the Voord, who gave him companionship and healing. He’s soothed when he joins with the group mind of this alien race. As the TARDIS is lifted away by one of their ships, everyone is walked off, manacled by a energy device. Doctor ten begins to speak, but is stopped by the mad number twelve who says, “It might also be dangerous to let you talk. You, especially, use words like lockpicks.” That’s a fantastic line that sums up that popular Doctor’s personality completely. The origin of the Voord is given, including how they were able to escape the carnage of the Time War, and how events have lead to this point, culminating in another perfect bit of dialogue given on Page 7 in panel four. The evil Time Lord’s plan is revealed on 9 which leads to the expected actions, however Cornell does something different from most Who stories. This occurs on Page 13, and has two characters becoming very important to the plot. I was pleased to see this happen, as those two characters deserve greater focus. A big surprise happens on 19, and I was shocked by the third panel on 20. This is a rare feeling for me from a Who story because I’ve become invested in the safety of this individual. 22 is a super stopping point since it seems there’s no more story tell. Cornell has wound this story very tightly and I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters are able to overcome such peril. This is well done. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals by Neil Edwards are again a roller coaster ride: some pages are outstanding, while some panels really lessen the book. I’ll start with the bad, and, sadly, it’s the likenesses of the Doctors. They really don’t look very good. Doctor twelve is incredible gaunt in this issue and his profile is so elongated it rivals that of the Silence (Page 7, panel five). Just before this panel all three “good” Doctors are shown and they’re only passable as the actors who portrayed them. Doctor ten improves on 8, but there’s no love at all for number eleven. In fact, it seems as though all the panels where the Doctors do appear are illustrated primarily to focus on other characters in the same location. The rest of the book is really impressive, though. I am love with the design of the Voord. It’s said the simplest designs always look the best, and their look is simple but they’re just so awesome looking! Sleek, powerful, and very menacing, even when it’s just the mad Doctor giving dialogue he looks terrific (the top of Page 2 is fantastic). Pages 4 and 5 are gorgeous, reminding me somewhat of the design of the aliens from Stanley Kubrick’s A.I. Something happens to change their appearance on 13 and it’s done in spectacular fashion — no sound effects were added to the art, but it’s simply impossible not to hear their icky sounds when “it” happens. The setting of the Voord world is also impressive. I would have been happy to have the prisoners walk further if it had provided Edwards more space to showcase this environment. Page 15 is the perfect “evil villain” set up — again, loved it! Also looking well done are the two protagonists running about at the story’s end. They look superb in every panel they occupy. The super close-up on 18 is perfection, and it’s only outdone by the emotional reaction at the bottom of 21. I’m loving the art, just not when the Doctors are shown, and that hurts the grade. Overall grade: C+

The colors: Shiny futuristic cities often are composed of silvery colors, highlighted by blues or whites. I was glad to see that colorist Ivan Nunes varies things up on this book, especially since the Voord are shiny and metallic looking themselves. Blues and grays are used on the first page for the typical utopian setting, but on Page 2 a nice inclusion of green is inserted, maintaining the futuristic look, but mixing things up visually. When an action occurs on 3 the background goes orange and yellow, which comes off very intensely due to the previous calm colors. I really liked the job done on the protagonists’ manacles — very bright and dangerous looking. When the change occurs on 13 the coloring nicely accentuates every groove in the characters’ bodies. The energy that’s used on 15 and 16 is a cool blue and green that is very powerful. Nunes is doing no wrong on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration and dialogue (the same font), some yells, and next issue’s tease are crafted by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. I really want the dialogue to be a different font than the narration, as they are two different forms of communication, and the Voord to have their own unique font when they speak. Every classic Doctor Who villain has a voice that is unworldly, and using a font different from that of the “normals” would have had them create a deeper visual distance from the protagonists. Overall grade: B+  

The final line: Some excellent twists and turns with visuals that could be stronger. Good fun for Who fans, but I don’t know how this would appeal to anyone outside of the base audience. Overall grade: B+

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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