In the streets of Victorian London, The Doctor and Sarah Jane encounter strange alien forces, and for once, they’re not the only ones who are out of their native time-era… Your Major Spoilers review of Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #1 awaits!
DOCTOR WHO: THE FOURTH DOCTOR #1
Writer: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Artist: Brian Williamson
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: Andrew James
Publisher: Titan Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor: “Victorian England. A mysterious woman commands a hidden army in a house of the blind. Scryclops stalk the streets…. and something alien and terrible screams from prehistory – with a hunger that cannot be satisfied! The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith return for an all-new adventure: GAZE OF THE MEDUSA!”
“ALL TEETH AND CURLS?”
It is a well-known fact that, while I am a fan of Doctor Who, The Fourth Doctor is not my favorite. It is also a known fact that, like pizza, even the worst Doctor Who is better than broccoli raab, and so we find The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith in the year 1887, watching Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. The first impression I have of the art comes with the first appearance of the title characters, whose faces are drawn from very overt photo reference, and come off as much stiffer and less natural than the faces of any of the other characters. As the story develops, we find that there are giant Cyclopes in the streets, a strange old man who believes that he alone holds the secret of time-travel, and Sarah Jane ends up in the clutches of a mysterious old lady whose home for the blind holds terrible secrets of the past, including what seems to be Sarah Jane herself, turned to stone by unknown means…
SOME ISSUES WITH LIKENESSES AND STIFFNESS
The real disappointment with the art is in how strong the non-Tom-Baker-and-Liz-Sladen’s-faces portions of the issue’s imargery actually are, from the strange Victorian one-eyed giants to the devices on display in Professor Odysseus James’ laboratory, including cowboys and Indians. While I understand the need to make sure that the most well-recognized incarnation of The Doctor is recognized, the majority of Doctor-faces in the issue seems almost pasted-on, making for some distracting art. From a story perspective, there’s an interesting mystery to unravel, some lovely dialogue from The Doctor that feels very apropos for Four, and a scary villain monologue that hits the mark, but the repeated over-referenced art kept dragging me out of the enjoyability of the reading experience.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A LITTLE WOBBLY
All in all, though, this issue still makes for an above-average reading experience, and the questions of hows and whys are intriguing enough to bring me back next time, even expecting that the art will remain occasionally rocky. Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #1 captures the voice and tone of the longest-tenured Time Lord well, gives us a solid story and 80% lovely art, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. Given the pitfalls of licensed comics and actors’ likenesses, this could have gone very much worse…
Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #1 goes on-sale 3/23/16.