Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review of Doctor Who: Dead Man's Hand

Doctor Who: Dead Man’s Hand, collecting issues 13-16 and one story from the 2012 Doctor Who Special. Written by Tony Lee, with art by Mike Collins.

The secret to a successful licensed comic book is a writer who understands the underlying property. And as I said when reviewing a prior volume of this title, Tony Lee understands Doctor Who. In addition to his comic work, he has written a number of Big Finish audios, as well.
In this volume, The Eleventh Doctor and Clara travel to the Old West. Because the Doctor wants to wear his Stetson hat again. There, he finds Oscar Wilde, Calamity Jane, and a mysterious gunfighter who can kill by shooting his fingers at a man. This mysterious gunfighter turns out to be the re-animated corpse (sort of) of Wild Bill Hickock. And it’s all an alien plot.

Of course, the Doctor saves the day, because he is the Doctor. The details don’t matter – what matters is that is a fun read, full of references, inside jokes, and lots of Doctor Who goodness. In addition to Stetsons, there are references to Autons, long scarves, governesses, and a coming change to Matt Smith’s face.

There are some things that comics can do better than television. In this volume, we get a terrific scene of the alien speaking with the Doctor, who responds in each of his past guises. It is a scene that is simply impossible in television, but flows perfectly in this format.

The only weakness in these issues is the occasional inconsistency of the art. This is common in comics, but it is more noticeable when the figures are based on likenesses. There are times when both of the main characters lose their similarity to their actor. But this was never enough to pull me out of the story for more than a panel or two.

After this issue, IDW lost the license to produce Doctor Who comics, and I believe that this is Tony Lee’s last story writing for the Doctor. I have thoroughly enjoyed his time on the character, and hope that he can eventually find his back to it.

Source: public library

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