THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
The Fourth Doctor takes centre-stage in part four of Gaze of the Medusa. This month sees the Time Lord confronting the monster behind all this. Athena tries to escape her with her semi-petrified father and an old adversary hijacks the TARDIS.
When we left the Doctor he was cornered with the monster, so naturally this issue involves him trying to talk his way out of trouble. Because this is Tom Baker’s take on the Time Lord, that involves a quick-fire series of witty one-liners that perfectly captures the Doctor. The artwork remains superb; Brian Williamson seems to have mastered rendering Baker’s face. This issue also gives us our first look at the TARDIS console room in this new Titan Comics run, which Williamson delivers in a gorgeously detailed splash page.
Sarah Jane taking a back-seat this issue means more time given to developing Athena, the Professor and Lady Emily, who was almost completely absent from the last issue. That said, with the Doctor dominating the bulk of the story, the momentary diversions to catch-up with the others felt like padding to break up his scenes. It might be a good idea for a future issue to be completely Doctor-less to give the supporting players a bit more breathing room.
Though the monster (who remains in shadows this month despite being revealed in its full glory last time) is an original creation, it shares some similarities with a particular New Who monster. The similarity is referenced, creating a potential but forgivable continuity flub, in a way that felt uncomfortably like a name-drop. In fact, this entire issue rings a lot like an episode of modern Who, with Sarah Jane being forced to take “the long way round” and the sonic screwdriver gaining new abilities on a whim.
We complained last time that the cliffhanger was just a rehash of the previous month’s conclusion and a bit of a let-down. This issue’s denouement more than makes up for it. The final panel is an intricate splash page that hints at a daring shift in tone. Whereas previous issues have played homage to Hinchcliffe and this month had echoes of New Who, the closing note makes it very clear that the rest of this story is going to embrace a style all its own, take full advantage of the comic format and go places that Doctor Who has never been before.
FOURTH DOCTOR #4 OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
The penultimate chapter of ‘GAZE OF THE MEDUSA’! Sarah Jane and Professor Odysseus are trapped in the ancient past, while the Doctor and the Professor’s daughter, Athena, attempt to steal the Lamp of Chronos from Lady Emily Carstairs and her giant Scryclopes! And looming large over both time zones… the ‘MEDUSA’ itself
Writers: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Artist: Brian Williamson
Cover A: Mark Wheatley
Cover B: Photo
Cover C: Kelly Yates
Cover D: Brian Williamson
Cover E: Todd Nauck
FC – 32PP – $3.99 – ON SALE: Jul 13
Comes with five great covers to collect.