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Doctor Who #2

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2008
By: Michael Colbert

Gary Russell
Berdy, Phillips, Torres, Kirchoff (c)
IDW Publishing
Plot: That English whimsy almost gets the best of this issue with a giant sand cat, cursed Egyptians, and the Bay City Rollers.

Comments: Doctor Who, the TV show, has been everything from (of course) science fiction to horror to parody to cyberpunk and just about everything in between. When you are a member of the Timelord race (actually the last surviving one) and posses a ship that, despite looking like a classic British police box, can travel both anywhere and anyWHEN the gates are open to almost any and all kind of story and still have some semblance of internal logic. Thankfully, more often than not, even with this breadth of scope, the stories of Doctor Who never stray far from its driving force; the charming, eccentric and witty Doctor and the relationship with his current companion.

Thankfully, it seems that the comic based on the new television show understands this right down to the core and can pull an odd, exposition-heavy issue back from the brink.
The issue starts out promisingly enough with a look at an alien planet called KAS. For an unexplained reason 5,999,999,999 of the 6 billion inhabitants suddenly disappear. This is a fairly clever (not to mention succinct) way to state it. The only off put is that the last caption seems to address the reader in a disjointing segue. But itís an interesting start.

The Doctor and Martha land in 1974 London in the middle of a pop art festival walking among sand sculptures of Tom Jones, Rod Stewart and Mac Boland. The Doctor and Martha have an exchange about the Bay City Rollers as the Doctor tries to describe their cultural position by using boy bands from the '90s. A plot device is dropped in their hands in the form of a gallery exhibition but instead of rushing off to save the world -- they shop!?!?! Here is where Gary Russellís sense of the Doctor and Marthaís relationship really shines. The characters have an easygoing chemistry, very hard to put across in a comic, and spending down time with them without killer androids or whatnot is just as much fun and Martha says as much. Of course this being Doctor Who things go from shopping to weird in a second and really you canít get more weird than a four story tall sand cat swatting cars like dead flies. This leads them to the gallery and the difficult exposition and lurching plot which involves a cursed Egyptian princess, an alien posing as the god Bast and Martha becoming a sand sculpture. The truth is the plot is pretty ramshackle and doesnít really make too much sense, it all has a feeling of being secondary. This isnít so bad because, as said above, when the plot doesnít work we have the characters to enjoy. Everything gets set right in a few pages (kind of) Martha is rescued, the curse is lifted and the Bay City Rollers are free to do their short lived variety show and fade into music trivia obscurity. With a knowing nod to the disposability of the plot the whole museum and exhibition falls apart like a sand castle. But not before a warning first ďÖ trust no one!Ē The Doctor and Martha end the issue with their charming chemistry and head off in search of Bast, aka Bubastion.

Now things get interesting, the last two pages send the story careening off in an unexpected direction setting the stage for aliens posing as gods. What does this have to do with entire planetary populations disappearing? I guess weíll find out in the following issues of this arc.

Final Word: After such a strong start on issue #1, #2 was a bit of a let down in certain aspects, the disposable plot and all, but the charm apparent in this book and the promise of something more sinister on the horizon keeps a derailment at bay. I donít know if this issue would make any new fans but its strengths and weaknesses are readily apparent to the long time fan and I have faith in the Doctor and Marthaís ability keep us coming back.

"Who is Crazy Mary?"



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