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Reviewed: The Fourth Doctor #2

The thing about in-jokes is that they should be out. Every. Single. Time.
I hate in-jokes. Knowing nods to the audience, smug “aren’t I clever?” asides hidden in the dialogue… it’s fun occasionally, but when you’re battered to the floor with it in the opening pages of a comic book, only to find there are more meta references awaiting later, it jars.
Now, Gordon Rennie is, I know for a fact, better than this. I don’t even have to look at previous works of his (there are many), as I have the rest of the strip to compare it to. References to Gallifrey being in Ireland, to Harry Sullivan, even the OTT inclusion of “tomfoolery” when the Fourth Doctor is being amusing…
It’s almost as if there’s a heavy-handedness to the writing, that otherwise twists and twirls through a fun, exciting adventure. So much fun, in fact, that you wonder why the writer would pull the reader out of the story with in-jokes when the action on the page is so well realised. I mean, is this where we are now, as Doctor Who fans? Do we just watch it for the in-jokes? Is there so little of substance in the stories on TV, in books, on audio, that comic based stories have to follow suit?
What we have here, when you pull away the distractions, is a fascinating tale with a female villain, partially turned to stone during some ill-advised time travel experiment, who is looking for a way to overcome the affliction, something she can only do with the help of an expert time traveller. Great supporting characters, overbearing cyclopean henchmen and a Miss Havisham-style shrouded villainess with a driven obsession for survival places this adventure for the Doctor and Sarah (who he unusually calls Sarah Jane, when it was almost always “Sarah” after his fourth regeneration) squarely in the Hinchliffe era of gothic horror.
With a time-spanning cliffhanger to take us into issue 3, this adventure, meta-nonsense aside, is bloody wonderful, and you should buy it, if you haven’t already.
Just look out for the in-jokes. And feel free to point out any I’ve missed.
Doctor Who – The Fourth Doctor #2 is available from all good stockists and digitally via Comixology.

Christian Cawley

5 thoughts on “Reviewed: The Fourth Doctor #2

  1. It’s difficult with in-jokes to gauge it correctly – I love little throwaway references to the classic era, as long as they are subtle and limited. Watched The Zygon two-parter on the train home last night, and spotted the very brief glimpse of a Hartnell picture and the imbecile reference to Harry Sullivan. Loved them, because it helps me feel that there is a continuity to the programme, that this is indeed the same man. Sometimes, watching the new series, it is so alien to the series I fell in love with as a child, that it could just be generic sci-fi, but little light-touch in-jokes helps ground me back in the DW universe. But I can quite see that, for people who don’t know the classic series, that anything too overt would just be confusing and off-putting.

    1. There’s definitely an interesting point here. I love a little throwaway remark to the classic series but then I notice fellow fans get confused. For example, I remember in series nine having to press pause to explain to a confused parent what a Terileptil is.

      1. Ah, the old explaining what a Terileptil is to a confused parent problem. It’s a classic.
        But seriously (!), I get what you are saying, Moo. And I feel that sometimes the show does go down this route too heavily – I think RTD was particularly guilty of this, but it must have been difficult for him knowing that he had to educate a new audience but also had to contend with an audience that knew absolutely everything about the show already.I can only think of Star Trek having to cope with this type of thing, and it’s not really parallel because it was not the same crew in TNG. Though admittedly I have heard some anguished squeals about the reboot of Kirk and co in the latest films. One person I know refuses to watch completely because of, and I quote, “the travesty that is now Mr Spock”.

        1. I don’t think Zachary Quinto in the two movies so far, is doing a bad job at all as Spock. I think it is a case of Leonard Nimoy being that great as Spock. To show you how great he was as Spock, Leonard Nimoy won the Emmy each year for best supporting actor during the original series (1967-1969)..Don’t forget Zachary Quinto had Leonard Nimoy’s blessing to portray younger Spock.

          1. I’ve just checked with the person, and they have nothing against Quinton, just how they’ve changed the character. Bit Nimoy was completely brilliant

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Reviewed: The Fourth Doctor #2

by Christian Cawley time to read: 1 min
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