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Comic Book Review
The TARDIS has stopped. Lost within its maze of ever-changing corridors and compartments, a disgruntled Alice and the mysterious Squire are in search of the Time Lord. Can they find the Doctor and start the blue box up again… or will Abslom Daak get to them first, wielding his chainsword in a threatening way? It’s getting so they can’t even solve an intergalactic war crime without having to flee for their lives…!
Every now and again, Titan’s Eleventh Doctor series does a ‘weird TARDIS episode’. Something goes awry with time (as in Space in Dimension Relative and Time) or space (as in Four Dimensions) aboard the ship, and the crew have to figure out a solution. In Pull to Open, the TARDIS seems to have come to a halt, the Doctor cannot be found, and his companions are lost amid the mutable architecture.
Many of the pages are rendered by artist Simon Fraser in a police box shape, with TARDIS blue surrounding the rectangular panels of the strip. One of these panels takes the form of the sign on the TARDIS door, with black lettering on white. Opposite that is a panel that reflects the design of the St John ambulance logo – such as a piece of machinery referred to as a quantum perception diode, a light being shone in the Doctor’s face, or a close-up of the Time Lord’s bow tie. This is a delightful touch.
This issue explores the mystery of the Squire. The elderly might-have-been-a-companion certainly seems familiar with the events of the Time War, if her spouting of bizarre monikers is anything to go by. “At Vexa, the Doctor led the Shrikefleet against a Plasma-Wheel Armada,” she explains, in lines that could have been written by Russell T Davies in enigma mode, “At the Chronofracture on Borun, we held the line against six Barrage-Leks and routed the Exotic-Plunger! On Kether Prime, we threw down the Heisenberg Mutations…” “Squire, I get it,” interjects the plain-speaking Alice, “you can do wacky sci-fi names. None of this is helping us find a way out of an inert time machine, is it?”
The frustrated Alice swears more than I recall her doing during the first year of this comic, notching up five instances of the word “bloody” in this episode alone. This may be down to the presence of new writer Si Spurrier.
Fraser’s illustrations of the Squire’s recollections include crab- and scorpion-like war machines, perhaps referencing the Spider Daleks that were designed for but never used in the 1996 TV movie, and what appears to be a gun-wielding toddler – could this be the Nightmare Child that Davies wrote about?
It’s likely that there is also supposed to be some initial mystery surrounding the identity of the Doctor’s shadowy interrogators, but I guessed this straight away, as it’s an idea that has been touched upon several times in Doctor Who novels, in particular Timewyrm: Revelation.
The puzzle that is Pull to Open is a pause, a moment of reflection before the chase resumes – as becomes all too apparent on the cliffhanging final page. Get a hold of this comic and pull it open as soon as you can!