Through Time and Space (Doctor Who (IDW)) Paperback – 13 Jan 2010
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'The Whispering Gallery', from Leah Moore and John Reppion (whose credits include 'Albion' among many others), with art by Ben Templesmith ('30 Days of Night' et al), is a spooky tale which sees the TARDIS land in an alien gallery filled with pictures that preserve an element of the deceased subject's consciousness. As he investigates further, the Doctor discovers a shocking truth - and is forced to face up to the consequences of his actions. It's an intriguing tale, made all the more effective by Templesmith's unusual artwork, which is quite unlike anything I've seen in a 'Doctor Who' comic before.
Tony Lee's 'The Time Machination', illustrated by Paul Grist, is a very different kind of tale, a densely packed runaround set in Victorian London, which sees the Doctor teaming up with teacher (and soon to be legendary science fiction writer) HG Wells. On that information alone, you can probably guess where this is going, and that Wells' experiences will inform his later writing, but that's only part of the story - this is what the Doctor might describe as a 'twisty turny, timey-wimey' kind of adventure, which works as a great story in its own right, whilst simultaneously being a sequel and / or prequel to several 'Doctor Who' TV episodes, and even a tie-in with spin-off series 'Torchwood'. Generally speaking, I don't like it when 'Doctor Who' references its past purely for the sake of it, but Tony Lee has done a great job of weaving many disparate continuity elements and references in a way that enriches, rather than detracts from, the story, and as a result, this is probably my favourite story in the collection.
Donna Noble joins the Doctor for a trip to the titular planet in 'Autopia' by John Ostrander and Kelly Yates, which sadly feels like the weak link in the collection. It's a pretty simple story about robots being encouraged to rebel against their humanoid masters by the Doctor and Donna, and both Ostrander's script and Yates' artwork feels strangely at odds with the more mature tone and modes of storytelling in some of the collection's other adventures, feeling more like the kind of story younger readers might enjoy in 'Doctor Who Adventures'. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but next to its stablemates, it can't help but fall short.
Thankfully, 'Room with a Deja View' restores the balance a little, with Rich Johnston's script making good use of the comic book format to tell a fascinating - if occasionally slightly confusing - story about a character living in an opposite timeline to the Time Lord. Even though it doesn't always work, it's a great example of what these one-shot comics should be doing - experimenting with the form, and offering something a little bit different.
'Cold Blooded War', like 'The Time Machination' before it, takes its lead from the Doctor's past, with the Time Lord and Donna finding themselves caught up in a crisis involving the Draconians and the Ice Warriors. Unashamedly traditional to the extent of feeling almost like a hangover from the Jon Pertwee era, Richard Starkings and Gary Russell's story is given a real boost by wonderfully stylised artwork from Adrian Salmon. His art is probably my favourite in the collection, being incredibly distinctive but doing an excellent job of serving the story, and I hope to see more of his work in IDW's 'Who' range in the future.
Finally, we have 'Black Death White Life' by Charlie Kirchoff and Tom Mandrake, which takes the Doctor and Martha back to the 17th century as they discover the Black Death has returned, and there are sinister figures stalking the English countryside. A good, strong historical adventure with a sci-fi twist, it's exactly the kind of story one could imagine being attempted on television, possibly more so than any of the other stories here.
So, whilst by its very nature, 'Through Time and Space' is something of a mixed bag, it's certainly worth a look. At its best, it's some of the best 'Doctor Who' in comic book form that I've seen for a long, long time, and I'd recommend it for 'The Time Machination' and 'Cold Blooded War' alone. Not every story reaches those heights, but they're all interesting in their own way, and the variety of writers and artists contributing to the collection means that if you don't like one story, there are five more which may be more to your taste.
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Front: Well, you can see this for yourself, but it's a lovely still of Ten (as portrayed by David Tennant) and Martha standing in the whispering gallery. Wonderfully detailed and watercolor-esque, with the nu-Who logo and "THROUGH TIME AND SPACE" at the bottom.
Back: Stone brown background with delicate Gallifreyan circular design. The background is a matte finish while the design stands out and is smooth - very beautiful! Has short descriptions of each story.
The Whispering Gallery:
Art: A mixture of pencil, watercolor, computer, and photorealism (esp. the TARDIS). Close-ups are beautifully-detailed pencil/watercolor with quite a bit of work put into them. Background drawings are a bit more loose and cartoony, creating an interesting dichotomy that takes a few minutes to get used to but definitely adds to the enjoyment (though it does clash just a little bit with the somber storyline).
Story: Ten and Martha. The Doctor returns to the home planet of a previous companion to discover a society who never show any emotions. Easily the strongest story of the book and quintessentially Doctor Who: The companion (in this case, Martha) learns about an alien culture but can't help injecting her human heart into things, the Doctor must play Sherlock Holmes to discover what is causing all the pain and suffering for these people, there's a big beastie baddie, a chase, and a clever resolution (if a big hurried).
9 out of 10
The Time Machination:
Art: Not as big of a fan of this style, but it does lend to the grittiness of Victorian England. A bit more solid and blocky.
Story: Just Ten, no companion (unless you count HG Wells). The TARDIS is in need of a refueling, but Cardiff is a bit far away, so the Doctor enlists the help of Mr. Wells. That is, until Torchwood shows up. Similar to the Shakespeare Code in character interaction and plot. Entertaining, but not ground-breaking.
7 out of 10
Art: Mix of computer and traditional comic book. Less abrasive than "The Time Machination", not as elegant as "The Whispering Gallery".
Story: Ten and Donna. The TARDIS lands on a planet whose inhabitants have perfected everything. This comes at a price, of course, and quickly the Doctor and Donna discover that they've been enslaving a robot species who are too human for comfort. A bit of a "be careful what you wish for" tale with a slightly silly ending that is fun and pretty much classic Donna.
8 out of 10
Art: Similar to "The Time Machination", blocky and solid but with a bit more shading to it.
Story: Ten and Donna. By a twist of fate, a woman has become the ruler of a highly-patriarchal race, causing civil unrest and violent factions. The story itself is a welcome one, but the execution could have been better. It almost literally beats you over the head with the message, and the comparison to Islamic societies is an incredibly obvious one that I could have done without (Donna even mentions burqas at one point). That said, I like everything BUT the execution. The characters are wonderful, especially the little imprisoned girl Agita, and there is plenty of action. I could have seen this as an actual episode, were it not for the heavy-handedness of the moral message.
6.5 out of 10
Room with a Deja-View:
Art: More photorealistic than 2 and 4, detailed with rich color and shading. The way David Tennant's lips are drawn at times (with solid outlines), though, is very distracting and stops me from 100% loving the art.
Story: Just Ten. Okay, this is a difficult one. The TARDIS receives a distress call, and bored out of his mind, the Doctor answers. He discovers an alien being about to be executed for murder, but they're having a bit of trouble interrogating the suspect. Why? Well, this alien lives his life backwards. Literally. Not like Benjamin Button... his life is literally in reverse, like playing a movie on rewind. The Doctor has to pull a similar trick as in "Blink" to be able to understand a conversation whose end is its beginning, and the frames are written from the perspective of the alien (meaning the conversation ends at the beginning so you have to find the page where the conversation starts from the perspective of the alien and work your way backwards). The result is a LOT of work and confusion for very, very little payoff. I understood it the first time through, but didn't think it was a good way to approach this (though it was VERY clever).
4 out of 10
Black Death White Life:
Art: More realism, mix of traditional comic book, computer, and a touch of watercolor, especially on skin tones which is a nice effect.
Story: Ten and Martha. The TARDIS accidentally lands in 1669 while on the way to a Beatles concert. The Doctor and Martha find themselves smack dab in the middle of the Black Plague. While Martha aids the sick, the Doctor discovers the church have themselves a healing angel... but not one of this heaven or Earth. Another classic Doctor Who tale, with aliens injected in historical Earth fact and lore, action, compassion, and a touch of humor, making this a solid addition to the collection and a possible good source for a future episode.
9 out of 10
Miscellaneous: Includes seven full-page photographs and illustrated stills of David Tennant as the Doctor along with Martha or Donna.
Overall, this is a must buy for any Doctor Who fan!
I feel that "The Whispering Gallery" is easily the best story here, made all the more amazing by the fact that it's written by Leah Moore and John Reppion (whose work I normally avoid). I'm not a fan of Ben Templesmith's art, but the story easily makes up for it.
"The Time Machination" provides an interesting link between HG Wells and the 10th Doctor, even tying into earlier incarnations. Paul Grist, of Jack Staff fame, provides the art, and I'd love to see more from him.
"Autopia", written by John Ostrander, is a decent tale of man vs. machine with a fun ending.
"Cold-Blooded Cold War" is a mediocre bit of political intrigue involving the Draconians and Ice Warriors. Adrian Salmon's heavy, nondescript artwork kicks it down another notch.
"Just a Theory" is the worst of the bunch, in which a being in a reverse timeline commits a murder... or does he? It's an interesting concept that was not handled well and only served to confuse. After three reads, I still don't understand it.
"Black Death", set during the plague years of the 14th century, is a neat tale from Charlie Kirchoff with great art from Tom Mandrake. It's a good way to end the book.
Overall, I'm impressed with the Doctor Who material coming from IDW and look forward to more, provided that they'll take more care with the selection of writers and artists. Now if we could only get more stories featuring The Doctor's other incarnations...