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Comic Book Review
For the Cybermen’s 50th anniversary… you will be deleted! The Twelfth Doctor struggled through four billion years of torture to reach Gallifrey, his home world, which now resides at the end of the universe. One man was not pleased to see him return: Lord High President Rassilon, responsible for the Doctor’s imprisonment and ordeal. Responsible for the death of his companion, Clara. Rassilon, whom the Doctor subsequently ousted in a bloodless coup, exiling him from Gallifrey to what was left of the cosmos. But the Doctor’s ‘mercy’ will have repercussions that will echo back through all of his past lives. At the end of the universe, Gallifrey is not all that remains…!
In 2015, Titan Comics gave us Four Doctors. This year they are giving us… four Doctors!
Being touted as the biggest Doctor Who story of the year, the publisher’s 2016 Doctor Who ‘event’ mini-series not only stars the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, but also features some of their companions: Rose, Captain Jack, Gabby, Cindy and Alice. I have to say, I hope that Titan aren’t going to rely on multi-Doctor crossovers for special stories every year, because the novelty value could easily wear off. However, it is undeniably exciting to be able to see the Ninth Doctor alongside his successors, something that sadly proved impossible in The Day of the Doctor.
Taking a leaf out of The Five Doctors’ book, the opening instalment of Supremacy of the Cybermen (by the way, did I mention – the Cybermen are in it, too!) keeps the various incarnations apart for now, though I dare say they will join forces by the end of this five-part, bi-weekly adventure. The Twelfth Doctor begins his part of the story on the planet Karn (for a moment, I thought it was a flashback to Night of the Doctor). The Eleventh Doctor and Alice are on prehistoric Earth (I’ll forgive the assortment of dinosaurs from different continents and periods, because clearly there is something timey-wimey going on here). Meanwhile (if that word can be applied to a time-travel narrative), the Tenth Doctor, Gabby and Cindy are in deep space in the 24th century, while the Ninth Doctor, Rose and Jack are on the Powell Estate in 2006. All of these worlds have somehow been altered by Cyber-technology… The multi-stranded plot structure is effective, going from Twelve to Eleven to Ten to Nine, then back to Ten, Eleven and Twelve.
The likenesses of Matt Smith, David Tennant and Camille Coduri (yes, Jackie Tyler is in it as well!) are not great, though Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, John Barrowman and especially Peter Capaldi are more successfully captured by the main artists, Alessandro Vitti and Ivan Rodriguez. It is ironic, therefore, that for the final three pages of this issue (which are Twelfth Doctor pages), Tazio Bettin takes over the art chores from Vitti and Rodriguez. Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to split the division of labour along the lines of the different Doctors’ segments of the tale, and perhaps get some better likenesses into the bargain?
For all my quibbles, it’s good to see the Cybermen (who celebrate their 50th anniversary this year) back again, and the cliffhanger ending to this issue is, as they used to say in the 1980s, excellent!