Doctor Who #13A comic review article by: Ray Tate
Matthew Dow Smith and Charlie Kirchoff triumph in the 13th issue of Doctor Who. The Doctor materializes in Casablanca. How does the Time Lord pilot the TARDIS to a land of fiction? It's not as uncommon as you think. Whereas in the television series, the Doctor travels to historical recreations, docudramas per se, in the books and comic strips of yore, the Doctor sometimes found himself in fictional realms and meeting fictional personages like Sherlock Holmes. At times, there's a razor's edge between fanfiction and professional fiction. The setup in this issue of Doctor Who allows Dow Smith the opportunity to detail the mythic Moroccan melting pot, its people and of course the characters from the movie.
While entertaining with likenesses of the young Claude Rains, Dow Smith also skillfully renders the rest of the cast. Dow Smith's Rory is second to none, and the artist also brings Amy Pond to the fore, giving her more assertive attitude and body language. Charlie Kirchoff's sands, reds and pinks make one thirst for a properly shaded black and white classic. Of course, Casablanca has been colorized before, badly. Doctor Who easily represents the best Casablanca ever looked in color and exemplifies the differences in media. Colorized Casablanca on film is sacrilege. Colorized Casablanca in comics can be utterly gorgeous. The Phantom also visited Casablanca in a memorable Charlton issue spotlighting the art by legendary Don Newton, but the color technology simply wasn't as advanced.
The Fez Conspiracy
The story starts off well enough. The Doctor's out to buy another fez to replace the one shot dead by River Song in the Series Five finale. So far so good. Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov characterizes the Doctor well in these early scenes. He's eager and focused on the stupidest thing in the world. He totally ignores Amy while on his quest for an inappropriate chapeau, and it's even proper that his hankering for a fez leads the others into trouble, including an arrest for Rory. However, afterward, the story falls apart.
Nazis, Why Did it Have to Be Nazis?
The Doctor knows Nazis are in the vicinity. He admits to loathing them, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, he leaves Rory in jail inexplicably not predicting he would be "accidentally shot." Murder is the Nazi forte. Why would the Doctor leave Rory in prison, in such hostile territory?
Sorry. I can buy the Doctor's want for a fez. I can buy his totally ignoring Amy desperately trying to stop him from buying a fez. I can buy Amy's thirst for exploration even at the temporary abandonment of her husband. I can't buy the Doctor callously leaving Rory to stew in the jail of a land that lays out the welcome mat for Nazis. If it were a land welcoming Teletubbies. Yeah, good joke, but Nazi presence, always deadly.
The Doctor's admitted hatred of the Nazis, and hey, good taste there, should catalyze his working to release Rory from jail. After all, he still possesses Psychic Paper, which triggers telepathic persuasion, in all but the smartest individuals. The target looking at the paper will believe the Doctor to be any personage he desires. He could have for example pretended to be a special envoy from Hitler to release Rory into his custody. That would certainly grease the wheels of Casablanca's creaky justice.
The Big Secret
Although Doctor Who Magazine killed Ace, the seventh Doctor's television companion, during a time when the television series was in limbo, it's highly doubtful, that the Powers That Be at the BBC would allow a media accessory like a comic book series send a current companion or even a surviving older companion to his or her demise. Of course, it wouldn't actually matter if they did. The canon is the television series. Rory of course isn't killed. However, within the confines of the story, the Doctor and Amy are unaware of Rory's complete invulnerability. That nigh imperviousness versus fictional mortality combined with the Doctor's shocking inertia works against the story's favor.
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.