Sunday, December 7, 2008

the top ten- Top Five Doctor Who (DWM) Comics

The Top Ten

I love top ten lists. I love writing reviews, period. I don’t know why. My talent (if that’s what you call it) seems to be bringing disparate things together, comparing and contrasting (“seeing patterns that aren’t there,” in the words of the Eighth Doctor). So, it’s nearing the end of the year, and what do I have to show for it?

Some statistics for you: in the last six months I have listened to

  • 55 radio plays; read

  • 38 graphic novels of which

  • 26 were Batman/Catwoman; in the last year I’ve read

  • 54 books of which

  • 8 were Doctor Who books; and

  • 12 were volumes of poetry.
    So, for you I have:

    Top Five Doctor Who (DWM) Comics
    Top Ten Batman Stories
    Top Ten Graphic Novels
    Top Ten Books
    Top Fifteen Radio Plays
    Top Ten Fan Fic

    Top Five Doctor Who (DWM) Comics

I’ll preface this by saying this is far from exhaustive. I’ve missed a volume of the Eighth Doctor, all of the Ninth Doctor, Ten and Rose, with only some Martha/Ten and Donna/Ten adventures to show for the year I was actually keeping up with Doctor Who Magazine. But bless Swansea Central Library, they do keep up on their Doctor Who comics collections, and it’s from this small pool that I base these rankings. By the way, I define a comic story as a self-contained story rather than the book or collection it’s been published in. For example, Doctor Who would be the fandom, Key to Time would be the collection, but the individual serials (even though they are made of episodes of their own) would be considered stories. Does this make sense??

5. The Shape Shifter (6) (Steve Parkhouse/John Ridgway) I’m a big fan of John Ridgway’s art, and Steve Parkhouse is no slouch when it comes to writing adventures for several Doctors. This is Frobisher’s introduction story from the Sixth Doctor’s collection Voyager. The whole thing channels Dick Tracy-style potboilers with a dose of humor and ingenuity. There’s also a funny section where the Doctor is attacked by a sandwich and is naked in the bath (!). In close-ups, John Ridgway demonstrates his absolute prowess, and to think he was pursuing a full-time job as an engineer while he drew the strip in his spare time!

4. Universal Monsters (10) (Ian Edgington/Adrian Salmon) I’m not sure when I first noticed Adrian Salmon’s arresting art—possibly a cover to Big Finish’s Benny Summerfield range or else his illustrations for the Time Team in Doctor Who Magazine. He was the perfect choice to illustrate this dark, Gothic, and unsettling story for Ten and Martha. Unlike your typical comics artist, there don’t seem to be any stages to drawing, inking, lettering, and coloring- he just paints! The art was gorgeous, Martha kicked butt, and the suspense was matched only by the reversals when the Doctor realized he’d gotten everything horribly, horribly wrong. This is a story about compassion, duty, and love, set in a rather “State of Decay” universe.

3. Where Nobody Knows Your Name (8) (Scott Gray/Roger Langridge) Okay, so sue me: I like Frobisher! This is a sweet story from The Flood with wonderfully distinctive art by the accomplished Roger Langridge (who draws the Eighth Doctor so winningly). I could hear Paul McGann’s voice as soon as his Doctor started processing dialogue bubbles (and that’s a good thing, of course!). The story is sweet, warm, and life-affirming, despite the Doctor having just lost Izzy (“It’s a terrible shame when you lose someone special, isn’t it? When they die . . . When they leave . . . When they change”). It ends with the Doctor regaining his confidence with the unwitting help of . . . Frobisher! Neither of them recognize each other, but it’s a lovely idea.

2. The Gift (6) (Jamie Delano/John Ridgway) This unusual story is from The World Shapers. There’s something of Simon Guerrier’s “Categorical Imperative” in the atmosphere of a birthday party for the 21-year-old Lorduke of Zazz. The decor is vaguely Jazz Age, and Peri at last gets a good costume. The Lorduke himself is a fun character, perfectly capturing a 21-year-old’s combination of enthusiasm and ennui. The Doctor proves he can dance looooong before “Moonlight Serenade.” There’s a hilarious meta-fictional scene as a “Monektoni Shug faces oblivion.” The best part of this story, though, is that music comes out as the ultimate weapon in defeating mindless robots.

1. Happy Deathday (8) (Scott Gray/Roger Langridge) Oh, like you’re surprised?

Others worth checking out:

  • The Power of Thoueris! (8) (Scott Gray/Adrian Salmon)

  • The World Shapers (6) (Mike Collins/John Ridgway)

  • The Dragon’s Claw (4) (Steve Moore/Dave Gibbons)

  • And that recent 10/Martha story, I think it was Jonathan Morris/Roger Langridge where the Doctor’s enemies destroyed themselves in an attempt to eliminate him, and he only came upon the scene, wondering sadly what could have caused such carnage.

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