Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dr. Who: Room with a Deja View Advance Review

Written by Rich Johnston
Art by Eric J

Rich Johnston, of BleedingCool.com and writer of this comic, was kind enough to not only send me the review copy for Dr Who: Room With A Deja View, but he also gave me a quick rundown of just what Dr. Who is all about, as I have never read a Dr. Who comic nor watched any of the TV episodes. If anything, this should be an interesting experiment to see what this reaction causes in a reader totally inexperienced with this franchise.

Hit the jump for the whole review.

First, for the uninitiated, here's how the premise was explained to me:

The Doctor is [the] last remaining member of the species known as Time Lords, who traveled in time and space in their TARDIS vehicles, multi-dimensional craft that were bigger on the inside than the outside. The Doctor has a fascination with Earth and humans, often traveling with them. But for now, he is alone.

Seems basic enough, right? Like I said above, I have no experience with the series, but I was able to fully understand almost everything happening in this comic (more on that later). I am sure that if you are an experienced Dr. Who reader, this is probably full of little nods to you, or at least it feels that way.

The basic premise of the story is that The Doctor receives a distress signal from region of the Universe called "The Dead Zone". There, he finds a colony of alien species banding together, escaping a plague that infects just about everything. But the main story deals with a murder, and The Doctor helps by interrogating the suspect, something that the guards of the colony can't do. Why? Because the suspect is from a species called The Counters that experiences time in a different manner than we, the guards, or just about everyone does. But The Doctor can do it, because he is a Time Lord after all.

I won't spoil the whole thing, because it is so incredibly clever than readers should experience the full joy of discovering it on their own. It took me several reads (four, I think) before I got the whole story the way it was meant to. This is a challenging story, one that rewards the repeated readings of it. Johnston makes full use of the fact that this is a comic book, and this story would be just about impossible to translate to any other medium. The interrogation scene is excellently crafted, and while the concept seems like such a "Why didn't I think of that first" idea, I haven't seen it before in this form.

One flaw with the comic is the introduction of The Plague, which gets a lot talk time and some interesting concepts (such as the fact that it transmits through communication devices), but nothing completely necessary to the plot. Maybe this is a nod to an established story or aspect of the Dr. Who mythos that I am not familiar with, and that's why I didn't understand the need to make this aspect so fleshed out (and to my knowledge, this is only a one-shot, not a series). Some of the jokes fell a little flat on me, but I'm probably not as used to that notoriously dry British humour. The art seemed a bit inconsistent at times, most notably the artist seemed to struggle a bit with The Doctor's mouth/lips, but it is by no means a major complain.

Verdict - Check it. The only thing stopping me from giving this a "Must Read" is the fact that I have no point of reference to compare this with other Dr. Who comics. Maybe this is all standard fare in the franchise, but from the point of view of a newcomer, this was a very entertaining exercise in comic-style science fiction and a very clever take on the perception of time.

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The Mawby Family said...

Blimey mate, where have you been. DW has run on and off since 1963, (1963-1984, 1986-1989, 1996, and 2005-Now). I don't think you can describe it as a franchise as it really transcends that, it's more like part of the social fabric of the UK, (in the same way that Star Trek is embedded in the DNA of the US).
I'd advise checking out some episodes, (start with the newer series from 2005 and work your way back to the very first episode, transmitted the day after Kennedy was assassinated). You'll be hooked before you know it!!

Matt Ampersand said...

Haha. I've always been aware of Dr. Who, but never really had a reason to check it out. I don't think they air it at all where I live, so I'll have to do some digging to get a hold of it.

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