Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Doctor Who: The Child Of Time

DWM’s first collection of Eleventh Doctor comics has arrived.

(With the news that the second Seventh Doctor book is on the way. Hooray!)

Written entirely (barring some edits) by Jonathan Morris and illustrated by lots of folks, this collection reprinting twenty-one issues’ stories includes standalones, almost-standalones with an arc attached, Big Two-Parters (here four-parters as the comics have that much less elbow room), comedy, horror, and a big apocalyptic super-crazy ending.

In the commentary section at the back, he notes that some ideas overlap a bit closely with the TV series at the time and other things had to change because he accidentally stepped on future episodes. I know how that feels, since in this one book he managed to hit two Celebrity Historicals I’ve suggested in this very blog, three I considered but didn’t include as they were a bit close to someone else, and one I’ve included there and featured in The Door In Time, as well as a classical reference for a monster name. (eerie music plays)

Anwyays, plenty of exciting, creepy, odd and funny ideas here...

Supernature is a nice straightforward intro, a bit of a Base Under Siege with the Siege being unwitting, and a chance to play the monster for one or more of the players.

Planet Bollywood! in particular might be hard to do improv, being as it’s a musical. (It also features a panel that makes me laugh every time, which is entirely down to body language.) But the core idea - a powerful mind-control device used for entertainment - could go far.

The Golden Ones is the Big Two-Parter in stature, bringing back a fairly obscure classic monster and cranking up the body horror and also making the threat hat bit more icky by targeting kids. (Which also means we know it’ll be reversed, because it has to be in such a situation, but never mind.) It also offers another chance to play the monster, secretly this time...

The Professor, The Queen And The Bookshop is the Christmas Special, a “What If?” or “Unbound” idea that would make a good change of pace for a game.

The Screams Of Death is classic territory again, right down to Amy’s costume being Leela’s from the start of The Talons Of Weng-Chiang.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night might have worked better with Rory in it, but Amy in a nurse’s uniform was apparently quite popular (ahem) - and goes from a very creepy opening image.

Forever Dreaming makes best use of Adrian Salmon’s stylised art for a trippy story that works great as a comic but might not translate to a game, though the sequences with Amy lost in dreams and shifting realities could inspire some ideas.

Apotheosis is a big action SF story riffing partially on the Clerics and also bringing in the main arc plot, which I won’t spoil.

The Child Of Time, itself, pays the arc off big time, complete with the multiple Celebrity Historical guests, robot Plague Doctors, a ruined future Earth (which should apparently sound like this, close to Holst’s Mars but distinct), a destroyed future Earth and more. Plenty to get your teeth into.

And the commentary section also has some unused episodes going spare:

The Boy In The Mirror (sort of used in Do Not Go Gentle) opens with a child waking at night, hearing a tapping... and finding it’s his reflection, tapping on the other side of the mirror... (It then reveals he and his life are a simulation, sort of worked into Child, but that opening...)

Supernature nearly included the TARDIS going mad and turning into a city (inspired by Bruegel’s Tower Of Babel), which fed into the arc later but it’s a striking image already.

If not for The Doctor’s Wife, we could have had a rogue child of the TARDIS - able to change shape, among other powers like travelling in time.

The Golden Ones started out in Leicester before moving to Tokyo. Consider that when imagining your game’s filming budget.

The Professor, The Queen And The Bookshop at one point had as its villain The Magician, “a wolf who turned into a clergyman”. Very storybook, not quite C.S. Lewis but instead very Box Of Delights. Filed away for later.

Forever Dreaming started as Being Amy, in which bored ancient future people transfer their consciousnesses into Amy to have adventures, then another Being Amy, in which alien fans of the Doctor do the same, so we see the whole adventure in Peep Show style and with their running commentary on how exciting it all is.

Do Not Go Gentle took the place of a story about a monster only visible on CCTV, who is closer every time you look. (Which duly appeared in the author’s Who novel Touched By An Angel instead. A bit like the film Shutter, as well.) And then it was nearly The Boy In The Mirror as well.

But then it was also nearly Seat Of Power, about a secret UNIT base under Edinburgh Castle, investigating strange power emissions, coming from an alien spaceship under Arthur’s Seat! And warning people off with temporal projections, including (non-robot) plague doctors from Mary King’s Close, and latterly mammoths. And the Doctor in a Tam O’Shanter.

Apotheosis was almost Sanctuary, with the space station being a monastery, literally powered by belief - the monks pray in booths to charge up the station. And Rory was going to be in it - and then we’d bump into a past Doctor and Amy without Rory.

And meanwhile, artist Rob Davis notes the fun of a classic Who anachronistic image - “I touched on a classic device in creating Doctor Who stories - stick a minotaur in the First World War of a biplane swooping over a brachiosaurus and you have an instant Who universe moment.” Indeed you do. Hmm...

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