Villordsutch reviews Doctor Who Vol. 3 #7…
“The Doctor picks up a distress signal coming from above the Planet Earth and arrives in 1965 to lend assistance to a Cosmonaut Leonov from an Library haunting foe, which has just feasted on his Leonovs colleague Dmitri.“
IDW brings writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (Elk’s Run, Echoes) and artists Horacio Domingues (WildC.A.T.S., Transformers) and Andres Ponce (TMNT, Star Wars) to expand on a scary as heck foe from an excellent 10th Doctor story “Forest of the Dead” and “Silence in the Library”. Yes, the Vashta Nerada are back.
The two Who episodes mentioned were both fantastic and I remember them clearly scaring the heck out of my children, which to me makes Doctor Who even better. However, it has to be said that Vashta Nerada must be a producer’s dream. “What, the enemy in this show is just a shadow? Excellent!” Yet even though they were just shadows, the director managed to scare people witless with it.
To get that same feeling of dread in a comic book would be a fantastic achievement, and in this comic it hasn’t been achieved. That’s not to say it’s a bad comic, it’s just not that scary or tense.
The story itself by Fialkov is a simple and good one. A distress calls interests the Doctor and he goes to help. The first person he bumps into is the space-suited skeletal remains of Dmitri, perfectly drawn and coloured by both artists Ponce and Domingues. Dmitri’s space suit is torn to shreds with his screaming skull shows the pain he must of felt. However, this opening image does remind you a lot of the iconic “Hey, who turned out the lights!” suited skull, at which point your mind says “Vashta Nerada” and you know the story. Shadows, dark places, corners etc., stay away from them. What follows is a run in space, using the TARDIS shield to help Leonov out of the capsule, then a run back to the TARDIS, where it detects a danger and closes the door on the Doctor, leaving him and Leonov to hide in the Russian Space Capsule and its failing life support.
At this point if it were a TV episode the claustrophobia would be ramped up, the shadows shown everywhere and you’d feel somewhat nervous for the Doctor and Leonov, but this has not been captured in the comic. They tried, but when the picture itself is enclosed in a small bordered box this feeling must be difficult to be drawn. Is this a fault of the artists? I’d perhaps do a “Ummm” and say Yes and No. I’ve seen comics which have had images that stick in my head still today and I know it can be done, to give you an emotion of emptiness or horror, but I like the artwork a lot in this Doctor Who comic. I feel like an oppressive father here moaning as their child only received an A in their exam and not an A*.
Not a lot seems to happen in the build of the story, but it is still good and sets you up for the second part. Matt Smith’s Doctor is given lines and portrayed well throughout the story; I could see him in a televised episode ripping a capsule to pieces and freaking out the Cosmonaut as the Doctor enquires what this wire is, to be told by a shrieked Leonov “LIFE SUPPORT!” Equally he is drawn and coloured well too.
A good comic and I look forward to reading the the second part.
Villordsutch is married with kids and pets. He looks like a tubby Viking and enjoys science fiction. Follow him on Twitter.