I’ve been looking forward to a 7th Doctor series from Titan. Over the past few years, we’ve had decent releases featuring, at first, the modern Doctors until they ventured into classic territory with the likes of the Fourth and Eighth Doctors notably. I’ve grown to love the 7th Doctor and, coupled with news that two writers from the classic series itself, Andrew Cartmel and Ben Aaronovitch would be running the show, it’s great to finally get the story.
The main characters are, as you’d expect, right here to enjoy and seamlessly plucked straight out of McCoy’s tv era. The Doctor and Ace are presented to us in a way that feels at home with the tv show. It “feels” very Series 25. Andrew Cartmel is on writing duty and if you’ve watched McCoy’s era plenty of times you get the same feel from this that equals his overseeing of the show. Although the medium sometimes suggests you need to be direct and in your face, Cartmel’s story is mysterious and timey-wimey. It has a sense of intrigue that made the classic series fun to watch with the Doctor playing the investigator with aplomb.
Although this is a double-issue in terms of single comic releases, Cartmel manages to take us to different places in space and time with ease and you get a sense of “this feels timey-wimey but I can’t wait for the next issue”. I’m not left feeling my brain has been taxed too much but I feel like there a lot more to this story. Although there are no high-impact action scenes (with the exception of a small case of fisty cuffs involving Ace) the level of suspense builds. There’s a lot of elements here that make a crackin’ Who story; mysterious alien ships, military units working alongside the Doctor, conspiracies, controlling alien snake-things and a sprawling story.
The story kicks off with Ace, in 1967, about to burn or destroy something that we’re not yet privy to. We’re then thrust to 2029 where a team of astronauts come across a huge alien craft that also pops up in the story as the reason why the Doctor is summoned to help Group Captain Gilmore. Fans of Remembrance will know him well. He’s driving the military aspect of the story and his stern attitude and no-nonsense approach is instantly recognisable. Other characters include Prof. Rachel Jensen, also plucked from Remembrance and provides the scientific aspect, Australian and British military and a suspect looking Aboriginie.
The setup and continued intrigue into the alien craft definitely works here. Akin to many stories from the classic era, we’ve not as yet got to the “big reveal” of who and what these aliens are. The tech seems very advanced and the sheer size of the ship is immense. We’re only seeing small parasitic aliens at this point in the overall story but that only leaves you wanting more
The idea of two time zones (1967 and 2029) linked somehow by a central character (Gilmore) makes you want issue 2 to hurry up and get here. As mentioned earlier, seeing the Doctor and Ace team up with Gilmore does have shades of The Doctor and the Brigadier about it. The “supporting cast”, as it were, consisting of military and Australian locals, all seem to move along with The Doctor as you’d expect. What turns out to be a mission of mystery is soon rumbling along nicely thanks to The Doctor and his alien tech, mesmerising the other characters.
The Doctor and Ace have been written perfectly into this story. For the most part, they’re not actually in it as much as you’d expect. This is what encapsulates Cartmel’s wring and Aaronovich’s production. This isn’t something The Doctor has instigated. It isn’t one of those stories that sees the TARDIS land somewhere and The Doctor’s “spider senses” going off with the smell of something not being right. The Doctor and Ace were requested to assist by Rachel and Gilmore. They are along for the ride for most of the story, allowing the events to unfold. It isn’t until the story picks up halfway through that The Doctor steps up and takes charge. His little quips are spot on and Ace oozes her usual street-cred intensity. It’s definitely a comic where the voices of the actors from the tv show sound perfect in your head as you’re reading.
Artwork provided by Christopher Jones is for the most part doing the business. The likeness to the main characters is pretty much all there, especially The Doctor and Gilmore. Ace is mostly there but something about her character art I feel isn’t quite nailed. Also, I would have liked to have seen something a bit more adventurous with panel layout as it seems a little paint by numbers at times. For the most part, it’s very well done though and satisfies lovers of McCoy’s era.
Overall this first step into The Seventh Doctor’s world from Titan is a success. Cartmel and Aaronovich seem to have stepped backed into writing stories for McCoy like it was yesterday. The slightly slower pace coupled with the spot on writing for the main characters makes you feel like this could have been a legitimate episode(s) slotted into Series 25 or 26. I’m really looking forward to part two.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
The Seventh Doctor: Operation Volcano – Part One is on sale in the UK on 6th June from Forbidden Planet.