In this latest issue from Titan Comics, The Eighth Doctor and his blue-haired companion Josie arrive in 1932 to gatecrash a party at Briarwood House, a scene ripped straight out of an Agatha Christie novel. Keen to find out what’s going on and what it has to do with their mysterious to-do list, The Doctor and Josie go all Miss Marple and turn super sleuth as they mingle with the guests. While no famous author or detective actually shows up, the story shares a number of similarities with the 2008 television episode The Unicorn and the Wasp – partly in its location and set-up, but also because there are darker and more alien forces at work here than first meets the eye. The Doctor himself states that Agatha Christie novels typically involve a murder, and unsurprisingly it’s not long before some form of disaster beings to wreak havoc on the 20th Century household…
Purely from a story point of view, this Eighth Doctor adventure is fun and harmless, albeit quite by the numbers and unlikely to produce any real moments of shock. There’s a lot of classic tropes at play, many of which we have seen in Doctor Who stories before. In addition, to the Agatha Christie inspired setting, the comic also introduces familiar themes of children’s bedtime stories and fairy tales coming to life, as well as traditional sci-fi in the form of a crashed spaceship and extraterrestrial plant life. It’s nothing revolutionary that you won’t have seen before, but it’s all repackaged into a nice enough tale that makes for easy and enjoyable reading. If there’s any real downside, it’s the resolution, which is intended to be heartfelt but comes across as slightly rushed – perhaps a constraint of the comic format rather than the storytelling itself. Luckily, though, the characterisation makes up for it, specifically of The Doctor who is on his wise-cracking best (at least, when Josie will allow him). Intentional or not, there are a couple of references in there for Back to the Future fans, which are integrated well into the given context of the plot.
Artistically, the comic is as vibrant and impressive as you’d expect from Titan Comics, with well-drawn characters and plenty of detailed action to keep you invested in the adventure. Particularly in the short fairy tale portion of the story, there’s an effective use of colours to hark back to the style of the Brothers Grimm which provides a neat comparison between reality and fantasy. As the theme of nature is so strongly prominent in the narrative too, it is also reassuring to see that the colour green is well represented to give off a convincing feel, as are the blue and purple hues of the darkened forest that our heroes eventually find themselves in.
All in all, Titan Comic’s fourth Eighth Doctor comic is a well produced and serviceable addition to The Doctor’s ever growing list of escapades. It may not stand out as especially unique or memorable, but it works well enough as a standalone outing and manages to combine elements we have seen before into a new tale that is both familiar and accessible.
- Writer: George Mann
- Artist: Emma Vieceli
- Colorist: Hi-Fi
- Letterer: Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
- Publisher: Titan Comics
- Released: February 17, 2016