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Comic Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Eleventh Doctor #5


Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Boo Cook
Colourist: Hi-Fi Color
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: US $3.99
Age: 12+
32 pages
Publication Date: 03 December 2014

Dying space station! Shapeshifting horror! Alice’s last breath? Tracking the temporal trail of the slippery SERVEYOUinc corporation, has the Doctor found more than he bargained for? Trapped aboard a research satellite, he, Alice and Jones must unravel the mystery of the creature codenamed ‘ARC’ – while staying one step ahead of its whisper-quiet rampage through the station! But there’s something essential the Doctor’s missing – something he’s overlooked. Can Alice help him see it, in time to save her life… or is the story of the Doctor’s favourite sarcastic library assistant doomed to end in the icy depths of space…?

The two-part ARC storyline is brought to a close in this issue. However, following the build-up of the previous episode, the plot this time seems rather slight. Without giving anything away, the solution to the problem will come as little surprise to regular Doctor Who fans.

That said, the visual revelation of the creature is impressive. We didn’t get to see much of it during issue #4, in which the ARC’s anatomical structure wasn’t altogether clear, but now we see that artist Boo Cook has designed a semi-liquid organism whose parts aren’t all connected in the conventional sense. Its fingers hover just in front of its hands, as though linked by some invisible force. We also get to behold the full eyeball-popping horror of what the being does it its victims – and it ain’t pretty!

Similarly striking is writer Al Ewing’s characterisation of the Eleventh Doctor. It is easy to imagine Matt Smith speaking the lines as it turns out that the Time Lord is not talking about what the villainous August Hart thought he was talking about on page 7, or the Doctor’s assertive intellectual deduction on the next page: “What’s so big and important and scary that you’re all puffed up like a threatened fish? Eh? What are you trying to hide?” And his moral outrage at what he discovers in the sealed laboratory is straight out of The Beast Below.

Readers can see Cook and Ewing themselves, alongside letterer Richard Starkings, facing the Daleks in a photograph taken at WynterCon in Eastbourne during early November, which is presented among the humour strips at the back of the magazine.

The level of threat to the Doctor’s companion Alice seems somewhat exaggerated in online synopses for this issue, which mention “Alice’s last breath” and ponder whether her story is “doomed to end in the icy depths of space”. In fact, the David Bowie analogue John Jones faces the greater peril, with the resourceful Alice doing much of the rescuing. Her age is given in this episode as 40. I had thought from the writing that she was more mature than your average companion, and it’s nice to have confirmation – though this is somewhat at odds with the young girl shown accompanying the Doctor on the photographic alternative cover of this publication.

I would recommend that this issue is best enjoyed immediately after the previous one, rather than some time later. That way, the entire ARC, um, arc will feel just like a 45-minute television episode!


Richard McGinlay