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Comic Book Review
Could this be the most dangerous issue that the Doctor and Clara – and you – have ever experienced?! There’s only one way to find out – but we recommend that you find yourself a safe, defensible position before you sit down to read it… The Doctor and Clara face a monster that will have you checking your stack of comics for suspicious movements! Dare you continue reading, when every page turn could bring you into mortal danger?! You have to – you’re the Doctor’s only hope…!
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Even without having read Titan’s online synopsis for this issue, which promises “the long-awaited return of a deadly foe,” I was quickly reminded of the Series 8 episode Flatline (one of my favourite Capaldi adventures) as I read this one-shot story, The Fourth Wall. Whereas in Flatline the Twelfth Doctor was stuck inside a shrinking TARDIS, looking out at Clara and others through the small rectangular doorway, here the Time Lord is trapped within a comic book, looking out at Clara and others through the small rectangular panels of its printed pages.
I didn’t initially recognise the monsters as the returning Boneless – not until Clara spoke their name. This is because it is practically impossible to replicate in inks the ‘digital ghost’ effect that was used on TV – though Rachael Stott makes a pretty good fist of it. Nevertheless, the two-dimensional realm of the comic is just as suitable a hunting ground for these creatures as the papered walls and carpeted floors of Flatline.
The Fourth Wall also captures some of the arresting ‘direct to camera’ appeal of Blink, though on this occasion the Doctor warns the audience “Don’t turn the page!”, rather than “Don’t blink!”
The notion that comic books can be dangerous has been done quite recently, in the Eleventh Doctor Free Comic Book Day strip Give Free or Die, while the post-modern idea of a strip based on the Doctor’s adventures covers similar self-referential ground to what’s currently going on in the Ninth Doctor title. However, there’s no denying the appeal of the humour, which is comic in both senses of the word – in the Doctor and Clara’s universe, there’s a major sci-fi outlet called the Prohibited Sphere Megastore, which sells titles including The Bat, Steel-Man and Spidery-Guy!
Colin Bell and Neil Slorance’s humour strip also gets in on the Boneless act, but conversely in terms of tone, it ends on a decidedly downbeat, creepy note…
Despite the Doctor’s warning, you will want to turn the pages of this issue!
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