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Comic Book Review
Breathless twists abound as the Eleventh Doctor series jumps into a new gear. The Doctor, Alice, Abslom Daak, the Squire and very special guest jail-breaker River Song have broken into the most dangerous prison in the entire universe – one designed to hold criminals and time-tossed despots of every insane description and unfathomable power. But unfortunately the Doctor seems to have forgotten his very clever plan…
The blasts from the past just keep on coming as the Doctor and co break into Shada, the Time Lord prison planet that featured in a serial, written by Douglas (Hitchhiker’s) Adams no less, that was partially recorded during Tom Baker’s time in the title role, but never completed. Art imitates life, and that story’s uncertain status is echoed here by the Eleventh Doctor’s vague recollection of it: “It was deleted from my memory. Like it… never happened. A movie that was never filmed.”
Writer Rob Williams is clearly a fan of Douglas Adams, as another of his ideas is present in the form of a depressed artificial intelligence. The Squire reasons with this machine in much the same way that the Doctor wins over the ship’s computer in Shada. And that’s not all – five issues ago, the Doctor tackled a spatiotemporal problem in an infinitely improbable way by using a “sort of constantly changing exotic matter just to get past the event ripple. Preferably, ohhh, a proteinogenic amino acid with a neat line in barrier osmosis, ideally in an excited thermal state” – say, a nice hot cup of tea!
Two illustrators share the art chores in this issue, with Leandro Casco handling the first 14 pages of the strip and Simon Fraser supplying the rest. Their styles are quite different, with Casco producing arguably more photo-realistic likenesses of Matt Smith, but with a less dynamic effect overall. Casco chooses to depict the criminals imprisoned on Shada as cowled figures (maybe that’s the prison uniform), none of whom look much like Time Lords, one of whom looks suspiciously like Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars movies.
Both artists elect to show their brief snippets of the Master in his Roger Delgado incarnation, which I find odd, because I had assumed that the Master would have looked like Derek Jacobi during the Time War (or be unrecognisable). It is possible that the records on Shada show the Delgado Master as just an example of one of his incarnations, or perhaps the Time Lords chose this form when they resurrected him to fight in the war.
Despite a few flaws in this instalment, which also include a rather downbeat cliffhanger ending, there’s no escaping the intrigue of this storyline.
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