Titan Comics latest Doctor Who mini-series, Empire of the Wolf, makes its debut in comic shops across the country this week, featuring two Doctors, to celebrate a very special anniversary – and setting the scene nicely for what looks to be a galaxy-spanning tale…
Review by John Freeman
While Paul McGann played the Eighth Doctor in just one full-length TV adventure, first broadcast back in May 1996, the incarnation’s adventures have continued across comics and audio drama since, his regeneration into the “War Doctor” taking place on screen in the mini-sode, The Night of the Doctor, which aired in 2013 as part of the series 50th anniversary.
In this new comic, trapped in a parallel universe, Rose Tyler (played on screen by Billie Piper) believed her adventures with the Doctor were over. She’s got a daughter, and is very much in love with the Doctor part-human counterpart. But suddenly, she’s pulled from her universe by a mysterious energy into this reality, where she must work with two Doctors – the Eleventh (played on screen by Matt Smith) and the Eighth (Paul McGann) to end the tyrannical rule of the warmongering Bad Wolf Empress.
Writer Jody Houser neatly sets introduces us to all the major characters in this new story, although quite how the Eleventh Doctor will thread into things is up in the air. Rose – both the rebel we know and the Bad Wold Empress we don’t – are introduced with aplomb, and there are some fun cameos from a Sontaran army (they get around a lot, don’t they…) and other potential enemies, including the Bad Empress aide, D’Pau. The characterisation of both Doctors is handled well, and I especially enjoyed the Eleventh chatting with the TARDIS in the issue’s closing pages.
Artist Roberta Ingranata is on good form, the list of likenesses she has to capture from the get go reading like a shopping list of favourites, ably assisted by colourist Warnia K. Sahadewa.
Speaking personally, I would have have liked to have seen stronger backgrounds and a bit more detail too. While Roberta is strong on interiors and storytelling on those is strong, for me, there’s a certain oddity to some exterior scenes. For example, when the Eight Doctor first arrives in London, a terraced street in a background sits uneasily behind a modern one, and there seem to be too few people “in shot”, making the perspective odd.
Of course, given the disconcerting arrival of an invading army on the next page, this may be a deliberate choice, but no amount of large FX lettering from Comicraft’s Richard Starkings is going to disguise how strange these pages look.
I’m sure there will be a number of fans out there pondering the validity of another “Doctors crossover comic”, since Titan have published quite a few, but the bottom line is that if that is what sells to the Who audience, then that’s what we’ll continue to get. I rather enjoyed this opener, and I’m looking forward to see how it plays out.
Issue 2 is on sale in January… wait, what? January?! Cruel!
Cover Gallery and Web Links
Cover A – David Buisán
Cover B – Photo
Cover C – Abigail Harding
Titan Comics Eighth Doctor Collections
Eerie Victorian magic shows, living paintings, mysterious lost books, crystalline life-forms, space-barges crammed with the undead… Embrace all the Gothic Romance and interstellar terror of the Eighth Doctor in this new series starring the most-requested past incarnation!
Panini Comics Eight Doctor Strips
Includes a special 16-page behind-the-scenes feature! Discover unused story synopses, character designs by artists Martin Geraghty and Adrian Salmon, original pencil art and a detailed authors’ commentary by Alan Barnes and Scott Gray for every story
The Eighth Doctor faces new perils in this bumper collection of classic comic adventures! This volume features eight amazing stories: “The Fallen,” “Unnatural Born Killers,” “The Road to Hell,” “The Company of Thieves,” The Glorious Dead,” “The Autonomy Bug,” “Happy Deathday,” and “TV Action!”
Also included are two bonus stories from the early days of Doctor Who Weekly, “Throwback: The Soul of a Cyberman” and “Ship of Fools,” telling the origins of Kroton the Cyberman! And, a special six-page, behind-the-scenes feature where writers Scott Gray, Alan Barnes, and Adrian Salmon reveal background information on the stories’ origins, alongside never-before-seen sketches and character designs from Salmon and fellow artists Martin Geraghty and Roger Langridge.
The Eighth Doctor clashes with a new host of enemies in this latest collection of classic adventures! This volume features seven amazing stories: “Ophidius,” “Beautiful Freak,” “The Way of All Flesh,” “Children of the Revolution,” “Me and My Shadow,” “Uroboros,” and “Oblivion!” Includes a newly-extended conclusion to the poll-winning Dalek strip “Children of the Revolution,” a bonus strip (“Character Assassin”) featuring the Doctor’s arch-enemy the Master, plus a fascinating, 22-page, behind-the-scenes feature in which writer Scott Gray reveals background information on the stories’ origins, alongside never-before-seen sketches and character designs from artists Martin Geraghty, Lee Sullivan, John Ross and Adrian Salmon.
The Eighth Doctor’s adventures reach a shattering conclusion in this final volume of classic strips! This book features eight amazing stories: “Where Nobody Knows Your Name,” “Doctor Who and the Nightmare Game,” “The Power of Thoueris,” “The Curious Tale of Spring-Heeled Jack,” “The Land of Happy Endings,” “Bad Blood,” “Sins of the Fathers,” and “The Flood!”
This collection features newly-extended conclusions to “Sins of the Fathers and “The Flood”, plus a 20-page, behind-the-scenes article in which writers Scott Gray and Gareth Roberts reveal the background and origins to each story, alongside never-before-seen sketches from artists Martin Geraghty, Roger Langridge, John Ross, Mike Collins, Anthony Williams, and Adrian Salmon.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.