on 6 September 2009
Panini's excellent series of 'Doctor Who' graphic novels collecting classic comic strips from the pages of 'Doctor Who Magazine' continues with this first volume of stories featuring Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor. In comparison with other volumes in the series, this is something of a mixed bag, with a handful of good stories outweighed on the whole by several relatively uninspired ones. Among the best of the bunch is title story 'A Cold Day In Hell', which sees the new Doctor battling against old enemies the Ice Warriors, as well as marking the departure of much-loved penguin (actually a shapeshifter) companion Frobisher. 'Claws of the Klathi!' is another highlight, a decent tale featuring a Victorian freak show hiding stranded aliens, and the Great Exhibition of 1851. 'Planet of the Dead' (no relation to the 2009 TV adventure of the same name) is also interesting for its excellent depictions of all seven Doctors, plus numerous past companions, by artist Lee Sullivan, as the Doctor is confronted by a number of figures from his past.
Others are less impressive - 'Invaders from Gantac!', for instance, which evokes memories of the often misguided 1960s 'TV Comic' adventures, and not particularly in a good way. Plus, there are a number of crossovers with other Marvel UK titles of the period, including an appearance by bounty hunter Death's Head in 'The Crossroads of Time'. Whilst none of these crossovers necessarily detract from the stories concerned, they add very little either. In its favour, this collection offers an introduction by strip editor Richard Starkings, as well as a 'commentary' section in which the writers and artists discuss their work, and it goes without saying that all the strips look fantastic, having undergone the usual restoration associated with these releases.
Ultimately, 'A Cold Day In Hell' is very much like 'Doctor Who' during the same period (circa 1987-89). There are some good points, some bad, and if you're looking for the really classic stuff you're best looking elsewhere. But there's still plenty to like about this collection, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.