London's calling, but the Doctor cannot hear. UNIT's locked him in a closet, and Captain Magambo appears to be willing to engage the Advocate's dangerous plan. Meanwhile, the aliens lay siege to the civilization trapped in their Enochian Web.
Tony Lee replicates the atmosphere of a good Doctor Who monster-of-the-week story, but that's not what earns the book five bullets. Not even his pitch-perfect mimicry of David Tennant dialogue and delivery gives this book five bullets.
The Advocate is what makes the story different and engrossing. The Advocate was sent back through time. She ended up in the Time War which eroded her sanity to a fine shroud of dust. She blames the Doctor for her plight and has vowed to humiliate and destroy him by showing the universe what a fraud he is. In the Advocate's demented mind, the Doctor is not the cosmos' savior but a malevolent gamesman who plays with peoples' lives. One of those lives belongs to Matthew Finnegan, The Doctor's erstwhile companion.
Matthew's characterized as a bit thick. In fact, everyone but Emily and Martha are dense, or so it seems. I think people fall for the Advocate's mania because they envy the Doctor. Matthew is clearly jealous of the Doctor because he believes that Emily is attracted to him. Magambo would prefer UNIT to be the earth's defense, and it probably galls her when she must rely on the Doctor. In any case, the Advocate throws a spanner in what should have been a smooth operation.
Without the Advocate, the adventure would have been a lark. The Doctor finds an ancient evil that has a human servant. He however stages a bit of a shell game and manages to save the earth just in time for tea. The Advocate changes the program, and as a result lives are lost. The Doctor's anger becomes a palpable:
"Know this, Advocate. We aren't finished. And if I hear, see or even smell that you've harmed Matthew Finnegan, your millennia in the Time War will feel like a weekend at Disneyworld compared to what I'll do to you."
That's the kind of dialogue that sends chills up my spine. I can imagine Tennant speaking those words, and this threat is perfectly within the Doctor's character.
Pretty speech-making cannot save a comic book with lousy artwork. Blair Shedd came from practically nowhere, yet he meets his deadlines to get a monthly book out on time, and it looks amazing.
In five widescreen panels, Shedd short-hands a convincing alien invasion of London. Emotions run high during this adventure, and Shedd plays them in the art for all they're worth. He also doesn't forget about the more nuanced expressions such as those evinced in the scene where Emily and Martha bamboozle UNIT troops that expect the companions' trickery but not their ace up the sleeve.
Shedd's Doctor is an animated Tennant full of fury over the Advocate's schemes and bravado in his soft-soled steps. He threatens giant robot angels with his Sonic Screwdriver. He exhibits his expert piloting skills, with a grin on his pliable, cartoony face. At the drop of Shedd's dime, the Doctor becomes a vulnerable quiet soul who doesn't want anybody to die.
Kudos also go to Charlie Kirchoff. His colors more than enhance the artwork. His shades accent emotion. For example, in one of the purest forms of artistic license, when Matthew Finnegan feels particularly small and petty, the mop-topped lad becomes a silhouette set against a backdrop of solid indigo.
Normally, the Doctor brings back the sky, but the beautiful vista offers instead contrast, for the Doctor is angry. He chastises Magambo. The Advocate reaps a victory. As the clouds and sky darkens, The Doctor renews his faith in Martha Jones, and Emily Winter returns to the Doctor's side. What a brilliant visual twist.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!