In Review: Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #5

An outstanding ending for an outstanding series. Recommended.

The covers: Three covers for fans to find before the Doctor dashes away in his TARDIS. The A cover is by Rachael Stott and Hi-Fi, and its imagery will create some questions for readers. First and foremost, why is companion Josephine Day in a glass coffin floating in space? And what unseen foe has the Doctor striking that pose with his sonic screwdriver out? And does the outline of space, which is shattering behind the logo, have specific meaning? This is how to rope readers into picking up a book! The coloring is also well done, with the neon powder blue logo on a white background allowing the figures to jump out at the reader. The B cover is another photo created cover by Will Brooks featuring Paul McGann as the Doctor reaching out to the reader to save him or her from the apocalypse that’s occurring around them. There’s a lot of energy on this cover which is handsomely countered by the calm countenance of the title character. Outstanding. Carolyn Edwards has created the C cover which shows the Doctor looking to his right against a dark background. Nicely captured image of McGann, especially with his hair, and the coloring is strong. Overall grades: A A, B A+, and C B+

The story: The final issue of this series, appropriately titled “A Matter of Life and Death” by George Mann, has several sensational surprises. The book begins innocuously enough with the Doctor and Josie aboard a Bakri resurrection barge, a giant day spa of a ship where the Barki capture the wealthy’s “mind at the point of death and download it into a new, synthetic body.” Naturally things go wrong and the pair are all smiles at the chance of solving a mystery. Mann has crafted a neat story that seems as though it will go through a predictable pacing, though there are fun events along the way, such as the sequence on Pages 6 and 7, but Pages 14 and 15 shoot this tale into the stratosphere with what’s revealed. The best twists in a story are when something is revealed that, had the reader been paying very close attention, were in front of him or her the entire time. That’s exactly what Mann has done with this issue. He has tied every issue of this series together in the smoothest possible way. I was utterly surprised by this twist and my heart was completely taken by what’s said and done. The final page includes two characters famous in Who history and how they figure into this tale was spectacular. This is brilliant storytelling. Overall grade: A+

The art: Though there are aliens and the story is set in space, this is a character driven issue. It falls upon artist Emma Vieceli to make sure that the characters live and breathe for the reader, and she does so sensationally. She is able to communicate the characters’ emotions right out of the gate in the second panel of the first page, with the Doctor looking eminently comfortable in the setting, while Josie looks taken aback. The forth panel on Page 3 is a wonderful moment of glee as the pair realize that there’s a mystery that needs solving. My favorite pages of the book are 6 and 7 that have the pair in danger from an underdressed foe that requires Vieceli to provide some appropriately placed cover, which left me in stiches. Also on these pages Josie’s face goes in some hilarious changes as she’s rendered in manga style creating some solid laughs. There’s a good crowd scene on Page 10 and an excellent focus on Josie on 12. Pages 14 and 15 use an element to tie past sequences together and it’s outstanding. The two characters that appear at the top of 22 are great and the final panel of the page left me grinning like I was 12 years old again, Vieceli captures the emotion so brilliantly. The backgrounds could be a little more detailed, since the barge is supposed to be opulent; often there are no backgrounds whatsoever. And the exterior of the ship is a bit simplistic. Still, the characters are so well done, I was happy with the visuals. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Continuing to bring their A-game to comics is Hi-Fi. I know I shouldn’t be focusing on characters’ hair, but with Vieceli’s work so magnificently colored by Hi-Fi it’s hard not to. Josie is sensational to gaze upon with her tinted blue-green hair that ends in faded violets. The Doctor’s brown locks look sensational. Pages 6 and 7 have a unique setting that shades everything green, which creates a wonderfully uncomfortable mood. The crowd scene provides Hi-Fi a great opportunity to show off all the colors of the attendees and servants aboard that ship and they succeed wildly. Something occurred this issue that I’ve not noticed before and that’s that the Doctor’s eyes change colors: they are a light brown for the first fifteen pages, but turn blue on 16 and stay that way for the remainder of the book. Given as how eye color was key in this issue for signifying a specific group, I thought the Doctor, beginning on 16, to be one of this group, but that wasn’t the case. A slight nit, but one nonetheless. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create dialogue, sounds, a group’s unique dialogue font, and the book’s final four words for this issue. The new group’s unique font was very cool, just slightly different from “normal” people to differentiate speakers and the sounds are terrific. Overall grade: A

The final line: An outstanding ending for an outstanding series. With books like this, Titan Comics continues to keep the Doctor’s adventures thriving. Recommended. 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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