Doctor Who #12

A comic review article by: Ray Tate

I'm an atheist, but I'm not against Christmas. I don't boycott Christmas. When people start getting all pious about the holiday and when country music stars start singing as if their voices can actually reach heaven, I start rolling my eyes, but the gift giving, the cheerful sentiments, the Druidic tree worship, the legend of St. Nicholas, Snoopy and the Red Baron, I'm down with all of that, and you would have to be a Grinch not to love Tony Lee's and Paul Grist's Doctor Who Christmas Special.

It all starts with a trip to the beach that ends with snow. This is actually a nod to classic episode "Seeds of Doom" where the Doctor at the end of the adventure promises Sarah a tropical vacation and ends up back in Antarctica. So, instead of sand, the Doctor ends up with snow, and he runs into some old enemies and Good Old St. Nick.

Not a Creature Was Stirring Not Even a Pilot Fish

The robots, of course, come from the same manufacturer that produced the so-called Pilot Fish that plagued the Doctor in two Christmas Specials. They're not the most effective weapons, but you can't fault their style. The bots disguise themselves as Father Christmas every year and attack.

Despite the Doctor's interference -- what else -- with his sonic screwdriver, the robots steal Santa's sack of presents, and before you can say Gordon Bennett, the Doctor and Santa are off in pursuit.

Where Reindeer Dare

I've never seen reindeer look so cute and determined before. With such opposition, the robots can't win. The Doctor and Santa retrieve the precious cargo, but the reindeer were injured in the chase. No problem, the Doctor offers his TARDIS to facilitate Santa's duties, and here's where Lee's nice idea becomes an actual story.

The Doctor can be a little difficult to take, and conflict arises between the two personalities. Yes, the easygoing Santa often wants to strangle the Doctor.

Even Santa Has a Breaking Point

The Doctor in turn believes Santa can't simply just deliver presents but also life. This is never more truer when the two visit a homeless child. The gift will cheer the boy up, but the Doctor cannot help but give the boy and his father a leg up from the gutters, in the way only a Time Lord can. The Doctor's technique recalls his method in "School Reunion."

A Kind Man Cannot Look Away

In addition to the conflicts and contrasts, Lee accelerates his story to catch up with some of the reflections from the most current sixth series, currently on DVD and receiving my highest recommendation.

Farewell to the Ponds

As you can see by the artwork, Grist is a master at representing a genuine sweetness and warmth throughout. He also appears to be more comfortable caricaturing Matt Smith instead of David Tennant. Colorist Phil Elliott completes the aesthetic with beautiful shades of orange and reds for a majestic sunset and icy blue skys mirroring the snow. Combined, the creative team offer this echo from "The Feast of Steven" chapter from lost story "The Dalek Masterplan." In the episode, William Hartnell, the original Doctor, broke character, turned to face the camera and offered these verbatim words to the audience.

The Feast of Steven

What a superb and classy way to end a story that in lesser hands could have been a saccharine or disingenuous sentiment.



Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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