23 July 2014

Review: Doctor Who: Fugitive by Tony Lee, Al Davison, and Matthew Dow Smith

Comic PDF eBook, 134 pages
Published 2010 (contents: 2009)
Acquired May 2014
Read June 2014
Doctor Who, Volume One: Fugitive

Written by Tony Lee
Art by Al Davison and Matthew Dow Smith
Colors by Lovern Kindzierski and Charlie Kirchoff
Letters by Chris Mowry, Robbie Robbins, and Neil Uyetake

The tenth Doctor's comic book adventures continue-- like The Forgotten, this seems to be set somewhere between "Journey's End" and "The Waters of Mars." It's comprised of two stories. The first, "Silver Scream," sees the Doctor meeting Archie Maplin (ugh) in 1920s Hollywood, only there's a dastardly plot afoot to drain hopes and dreams from aspiring actresses (of course there is). This is a decent runaround, and Tony Lee does a good job of capturing the voice of the tenth Doctor. The real highlight is the way that Lee and artist Al Davison create some arresting images: the cliffhanger at the end of chapter 1 is divine, and its reprisal is a cool reversal. Then, there's a section done in the style of silent film-- you could only do this in comics! And it's hilarious. One of the two bad guys seems to be dealt with off-panel, but otherwise I enjoyed this.

"Fugitive" is the kind of story I expected to roll my eyes at: the Doctor is captured by the Shadow Proclamation (from "The Stolen Earth") and put on trial, with Brother Lassar a.k.a. Mr. Finch (from "School Reunion") as the prosecutor, and he ends up on a Judoon spaceship (from "Smith and Jones") on the way to the prison world of Volag Noc (from "The Infinite Quest") with a Sontaran, an Ogron, and a Draconian (the events of Frontier in Space are referenced a lot).* But it actually really worked! I don't really see why Finch was necessary, but the rest of the elements come together nicely-- when the Doctor ends up on the run with his fellow prisoners, there's a lot of fun to be had to with the interactions between the four different prisoners, as they move from one deadly situation to another. And the Doctor is made to think about the repercussions of his actions in Frontier in Space in a way that actually ties in nicely with the kind of contemplation the tenth Doctor seemed to be doing late in his life. I wasn't really into Matthew Dow Smith's art at first, as his style is very distinctive, but I soon grew to appreciate it-- he's great at doing action while still capturing the characters, which is a too-rare skill in tie-in comics. All in all, this collection bodes well for IDW's Doctor Who output.

* There's even a Charley Pollard reference, which is maybe completely gratuitous (it would perhaps be less so if it was clear what the Doctor was actually on trial for), but I love Charley so I don't care.

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