Titan Comics’ Torchwood series continues with The Culling. Captain Jack and Gwen must race to find their genetically engineered ‘daughter’, Sladen, born to wipe out life on Earth.
A note at the start of this latest volume of Torchwood’s comic adventures informs the reader that “this volume takes place after the events of Torchwood novel Exodus Code, and Volume Two of the comic series Station Zero“. That’s an early sign of just how unforgiving The Culling is to new readers. Although it collects a four issue mini-series, starting with The Culling #1, it drops you straight into an ongoing crisis. The Vervoids (from Doctor Who‘s The Trial of a Time Lord) having travelled back in time to destroy humanity. Similarly, it features a complete set of supporting characters and agents for Torchwood, both at their Torchwood House HQ in Scotland and aboard the floating Ice Maiden base in the Artic but there’s little catch up on whom these people are, Some of them aren’t even named here and it’s simply presumed you already know who they are.
Though not an ideal jumping on point for new readers, it’s still part of a dynamic adventure. The scale is beyond that we ever saw on TV or even in Big Finish audios. It follows the same ‘widescreen’ philosophy of Warren Ellis’ and Bryan Hitch’s series The Authority and revels in huge cataclysmic events and spectacular vistas of action.
Captain Jack himself, John Barrowman, handles script duties alongside his sister Carole. So it’s no surprise that it’s remarkably good at capturing the personality and voice of the more established Torchwood characters. Gwen is particularly note perfect and it’s impossible not to imagine Eve Myles performing each line.
John and Carole Barrowman’s script hums with all the wit and cheekiness you’d expect
The Barrowmans also bring a real spark of fun and verve that perfectly suits Torchwood. There’s probably few things more perfectly Torchwood, after all, than a team member whose a purple haired lesbian android built in the likeness of Mary Shelley. The story here is the hunt to track down Sladen, a Vervoid/Gwen/Jack hybrid engineered to sterilize the Earth. But the new character, named for the late Lis Sladen, has too much of Jack’s righteous anger and far too much of Gwen’s pure bloody-mindedness to be used by anyone as a weapon. It’s her arc as much as anything that makes The Culling worth reading.
Neil Edwards’ art is dynamic and full of motion, perfect for the frantic pace of the action-packed storyline. Likenesses in a handful of panels suggest tight deadlines at work. But at his best Edwards captures a strong sense of personality and expression without ever resorting to simple photo references. It’s Edwards’ sensibilities that make this an authentic slice of comic book action, rather than simply a drawn TV episode. It’s all the stronger for it.
People who’ve been following the Torchwood comics and novels until now will find The Culling a strong continuation of the ongoing storylines. Those new to the series may not find it the easiest place to start. But it certainly justifies them picking up all three volumes so far and treating themselves to a long read.
Torchwood Volume 3: The Culling is published by Titan Comics and available now from all good comic shops. Torchwood Volume 1: World Without End and Torchwood Volume 2: Station Zero are also available. For further news and developments on this series join Titan Comics on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr and for more information visit www.titan-comics.com.