Monday, September 21, 2009


I’ve hefted this mighty tome on buses and planes and finally finished reading it. Steven, who’s TTZ’s resident comics expert, believes that creativity on the DWM comic strip has declined since the new series, and while I don’t really have the knowledge to comment, I can say the current strip is a lot less grand than during the Eighth Doctor years. Endgame is the first volume of Eighth Doctor comics (thank you, Jamie!). It introduces Izzy, whose haircut I apparently now have, one of the comics’ most beloved companions.

Alan Barnes and Scott Gray are responsible for all the writing and Martin Geraghty for nearly all the art. That means there’s a great deal of cohesion on one hand, and a lot of sameness on the other. Certainly Geraghty proves his mettle as a very good draftsman with a keen sense of chiaroscuro. I do have to save a bit of warmth for when Sean Longcroft and Adrian Salmon contribute some art toward the end on shorter strips, even if by virtue of their being shorter their stories don’t seem to hold much water.

There are some fabulous full page spreads that elicited gasps from me, even on the plane as I was reading, including a giant reveal of the Celestial Toymaker in the title story. There are clever conceits in this story (it introduces Izzy and takes place, more or less, in Max Edison’s Stockbridge) and fabulous, scary images of the Doctor fighting a clockwork/playing card version of himself. In “The Keep,” the next story, the images of the 51st century are a bit different than the ones Captain Jack inspires (Izzy thinks so too). Like “Endgame”’s reintroduction of an old villain, “The Keep” alludes to “Talons of Weng-Chiang.” Izzy’s obsession with sci fi embarrasses the Doctor but no doubt strikes a familiar chord with us. I’m also tickled by the fact she wants to “chunder” at hearing Milton’s verses!

In “Fire and Brimstone,” there’s another impressive reveal of a Dalek. I love that the font the Daleks talk in is different than the rest of the lettering (actually I have it in Word now—Steven gave it to me). My favorite story is probably “Tooth and Claw” (ironic since I dislike the Tennant story by that name). It’s a bit camp and turns up the classic Gothic horror meter really high, with spies, the island of Dr. Moreau, vampires, and the occult all thrown in. It also introduces erstwhile companion Fey, who might like to get jiggy with Izzy if they ever had the chance. Captain Jack would have a field day with Fey.

Along with Max they’ve also brought back the Doctor’s ally Shayde, and there’s a fun twist on him (?) by the end of the book. “Wormwood” makes you believe the Doctor’s regenerated into Nick Briggs (Izzy’s reaction to the new Doctor anticipates Rose’s frustration in “The Christmas Invasion”). Interestingly the Briggs Doctor is wearing roughly what Matt Smith’s Doctor is wearing!! At least the Briggs Doctor has good taste in tea. Now, I have never pretended that the huge Eighth Doctor story arcs don’t sometimes bore me, and Endgame is no exception—though at least there are the huge, squee-ful panels of handsome Paul McGann. I thought “By Hook or By Crook” was going to resemble my story “Shaving is a Tedious Thing,” (er, not to be confused with something Jamie wrote by the same title) but it didn’t after all. Oh well—all great minds can’t think alike!

Definitely the best way to spend a long flight!
I also borrowed Star Trek: The Manga Ultimate Edition from the library, as it seemed an appropriate choice. The art is in all cases exceptionally good. “Side Effects” as drawn by Makoto Nakatsuka, “Forging Alliances” as drawn by Steven Cummings, and “Til Death” as drawn by Jeong Mo Yang look particularly manga-style to me, while the others have a more fluid style. While among these stories is one written by Wil Wheaton, I think my favorite is “Bandi,” by David Gerrold, which is so silly, it even makes fun of Tribbles, and is drawn like a pulp comic by Don Hudson. It has a tongue-in-cheek ending that reminds one that the birth of slash fiction came in order to distinguish fan fiction friendship pieces about Kirk-Spock from slash ones (ie Kirk/Spock). That’s not something I really want to contemplate but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Most of the comics are very funny, usually when Spock and McCoy are bandying quips about (particularly in “The Humanitarian” by Luis Reyes). I’m not a huge fan of TOS so the somewhat bland morality, even as modernized by the writers to the best of their abilities, left me a bit cold. I liked that in “Communications Breakdown,” by Christine Boylan and Bettina Kurkoski, Uhura got something to do other than say “Yes, Captain,” and I could tell the female writer and artist were taking a stab at making her a three-dimensional character.

What I really want to get my hands on is their TNG manga collection!

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