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Comic Book Review
Things are looking bleak. The Malignant has grown to the size of a planet, and what’s worse, it’s now actively hunting the TARDIS team! River has already fallen victim, with the disease spreading through her body and starting to erase her timeline. The Squire has also been mortally wounded, in an epic battle against The Then and The Now, and must deal with the fallout from Alice’s deadly decision, as Abslom’s fury rounds on the Doctor in full force. Can the Doctor still find the truth and save his friends…?
Goodness me, the Eleventh Doctor looks incredibly smug on the front cover, doesn’t he? With his neat side parting, narrowed eyes and sly smirk, he looks not unlike the smarmy Jimmy Carr. But then on screen the Eleventh Doctor often was smug, sometimes irritatingly so. Writer Rob Williams captures that quality in spades, as the Time Lord stands in the open doorway of his TARDIS, shouting out into space at The Then and The Now, “the most terrifying, unrelenting bounty hunter in all the universe”, which “never fails to bring its prey to justice”, but is nevertheless nowhere to be seen: “Come on, big boy… Come and get me!” This is the same Doctor who bellowed up at an assembled fleet of all his enemies in The Pandorica Opens, urging them to remember every black day that he ever defeated them, the same Doctor who dared the sentient planet Akhaten to take the entire contents of his mind: “Take it all, baby! Have it! You have it all!”
However, despite having given The Then and The Now the slip, he has no reason to be smug. Alice is heading back to the Time War in the Master’s TARDIS. River is infected, the Squire dying, both of them in stasis. Abslom Daak is furious and wants to kill the Doctor for the situation he has engineered – but the Doctor soon puts Daak is his place as well. It turns out that Daak has let the side down just as much as he believes the Doctor has.
As the story reaches a pivotal point and tensions run high, the expressions and poses of the characters rendered by artist Simon Fraser become accentuated: the angry Daak, the scared Doctor, the angry Doctor, the regretful Daak. There are also some downright weird images here, including the black, all-consuming, one-eyed thing in Alice’s fevered imagination; the tumour-covered console in the Master’s abomination of a TARDIS; roundels filled with eyes; Alice with no eyes.
Page 20 of this issue is worthy of being a cliffhanger in itself, as Alice comes face to face with… well, guess who? However, there are still a few more pages of weirdness and angst to go before Williams and Fraser have finally done with us… until next time, that is…