Written by: George Mann and Cavan Scott
Art by: Alessandro Vitti and Ivan Rodriguez
Publisher: Titan Comics
Titan Comics have once again pulled together multiple doctors for a crossover of epic proportions. This year, they’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the mechanical monstrosities known as the Cybermen. The villains haven’t fared too well in the new show in my opinion, so given the success of last year’s Four Doctors, my hopes were high for a story that’d finally show what makes the Cybermen so great. Unfortunately, while the debut issue certainly features a lot of intrigue, it leaves me feeling the writers have bitten off a bit more than they can chew.
There are a few changes from last year’s event, namely that rather than being written by an outside writer familiar with the show (last year’s Paul Cornell having written classics such as Circular Time, one of my all time favorite episodes) and instead is written by George Mann and Cavan Scott, who pen the 12th and 9th doctors ongoings respectively. This leads us to another change for this year, the inclusion of the fan beloved 9th doctor who finally has his own ongoing series. His absence was definitely felt in last years event, so having him around gives a sense of completion for a modern era crossover, especially given how this will be his first encounter with the Cybermen. This unfortunately though leaves the issue feeling a little crowded, with odd pacing choices make the issue feel repetitious and a bit predictable.
The issues plot initially feels quite grand and expansive, though never really comes together. It starts with the 12th doctor crash landing on Karn with a terrible warning about massive temporal anomalies within the timesteam, and the other three doctors (each at different points in the time stream) having their own adventures interrupted by an oddly powerful yet mysteriously hidden Cybermen presence. There’s definitely a bigger sense of scale this time around right off the bat, though the writers decide to keep the doctors apart for the entirety of the issue which is massively disappointing, seeing as having the various doctors interact is the entire joy in a multi-doctor story. It also means the issue becomes incredibly predictable, as it flicks between the 3 other doctors adventures and features the same formula of:
-introduction to characters
-introduction of threat
-threat revealed as the cybermen
Which makes the issue feels repetitive and means you can see the ending coming a mile away. The 12th doctor’s bookend sections end up being the most interesting, as they advance the plot furthest and feature the most intriguing story elements. Due to the writing team, he also feels like the incarnation the writers have got the best handle on and that feels most like the portrayal handled in his solo series.
These sections also feature the best art. There’s are lots of visually striking scenes and layouts that make the scenes feel like they’re ripped straight from the TV show. There’s lots of dramatic reveals hidden by the art which I swear makes you almost hear the outro sting as you turn the page. The rest of the issue though just feels largely forgettable. For being a comic, it’s weird that it almost looks as if it had the same budgetary restrictions the show would have, as there’s nothing too crazy or large scale other than some shots of London in the 9th doctor sections. The faces too occasionally feel poorly done, the multiple artists leads to some inconsistencies in their quality and unfortunately make them feel a bit rushed. It’s a shame given how big and special last years event felt, that the art in this just doesn’t carry the same quality.
Overall, this is a bit of a disappointing start to the event. It fails to capture the same excitement and circumstance that last year’s had while also missing the key ingredients of making a fun multi-doctor story. I’m willing to forgive a few things given that this is only an introductory issue, though if things don’t get upgraded in the second issue, it may be time to delete this series.