DW: Gaze of the Medusa Review

DW Gaze of the Medusa

In what will probably end up being the last Doctor Who comic review of the year (but far from the last Doctor Who review of the year!) I take a look at the Fourth Doctor mini-series, titled “Gaze of the Medusa”. Sadly for me I read this after the great Third Doctor mini-series from Titan Comics, making this quite a step down. It’s fine, but it feels like it’s written by someone who only has limited knowledge of Tom Baker’s Doctor, where as “The Heralds of Destruction” felt like a love letter to the Third Doctor. Anyway, let’s take a bit more of a detailed look, shall we?

Synopsis:

Victorian England. A mysterious woman commands a hidden army in a house of the blind. Scryclops stalk the streets…. and something alien and terrible screams from prehistory – with a hunger that cannot be satisfied!

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

DW Gaze of the Medusa 1

The villains of the piece … well, barring the Medusa itself..

The Doctor (Tom Baker) – The Doctor and current travelling companion Sarah arrive in Victorian London… again, and not for the last time! Still, this time round they encounter several things related to Greek myth, so… it’s a bit different!

Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) – Sarah Jane gets to visit Victorian London, full of gas lamps, fog and … giant psychic Cyclopes! Classic!

Lady Emily Carstairs – A woman touched by a Medusa, she is willing to do whatever it takes to bring prey to, and eventually free, the beast in exchange for her original body…

Odysseus James – Victorian scientist who has researched deep into time travel, or “chrononautology” as he calls it. His work is a drop in the bucket compared to what soon arrives in his lap…

Athena James – The daughter of Odysseus and someone who also has an interest in science, though not to the same degree as her father…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Gaze of the Medusa 3

A rare sombre Fourth Doctor…

While there is a lot of unoriginality in this story, there are some good bits. For starters, a Medusa-like creature isn’t exactly a new idea, but tying this creature in with more recent Who lore was good (basically the beast “quantum locks” her prey so she can slowly feed off them for ages, the same quantum lock that the Weeping Angels use as self defence) and the large Cyclops monsters with psychic powers being called “Scryclops” at least made me laugh. I will also say that The Doctor’s reaction to having to leave Sarah in stone and revive her later was good, the artist at least got that rare look of sadness in the Fourth Doctor’s eyes…

While some things felt off, I have to praise Odysseus and Athena James, the former of who felt lifted straight from the Fourth Doctor era, where as the latter felt more modern, it didn’t hurt the story much. Tying them into continuity by having it turn out they were relatives of Harry Sullivan seemed unnecessary and forced, mind you…

Carstairs was fine as well, though she was pretty much just Magnus Greel (from TV Story “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, readers!) for most of the story, straight down to the Victorian setting, she at least had a good reason for her actions… Well, in a selfish, self-preservation way. That’s always more believable than someone just wanting to destroy the world or whatever.

The Bad:

DW Gaze of the Medusa 4

Sarah Jane Smith, looking unusually happy given the dire situation she finds herself in…

You get a rare chance to do a Fourth Doctor comic, a new chance to visually see the Fourth Doctor (and Sarah Jane Smith, for that matter) in action, and you pick Victorian London? Come on! What a waste! Talk about been there, done that, especially if you count modern TV Who!

Sarah Jane, but especially The Doctor, feel like they’re often just repeating phrases and words they’ve said in the past, rather than feeling like it’s an all new adventure. That’s the only way I can describe it, unlike the Third Doctor series which felt like new dialogue given to the characters, this felt like someone was given the task of writing a Fourth Doctor story so hurriedly watched a few of his serials and made notes and then wrote based on that.

The art is actually consistently on-point and well detailed, but again unlike the Third Doctor story, this was constantly using actual pictures as references, and so some panels you get a clear trace over the photo look to the leads, and others you get a more naturally comic-looking version. It always stands out especially when they’re interacting with one of the comic-only characters in the same panel. I mean, it would be worse if the art was just crap like some of the 10th and 11th Doctor comics can drop to sometimes, but still worth noting…

The Continuity:

DW Gaze of the Medusa 2

Now THIS is a thin panel… and a good example of generic Fourth Doctor jokes…

Beyond the over-used Victorian setting, nothing much. The Fourth Doctor is seen wearing his Sherlock Holmes-inspired costume from “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, although this canonically happens before that story. “Quantum Locking” was first used as a Weeping Angels defence, as I said, and there is a mention of the Angels, which The Doctor waves off as a “myth”.

Overall Thoughts:

Definitely a mixed bag, this story. It has some good moments and new characters, but the leads are cookie-cutter versions from other stories, and the whole setting and feeling of the story is that of “been there, done that”, which is a shame as new visual Fourth Doctor doesn’t come along very often. Worth picking up cheap and going into with low expectations, as it does have some merit.

3 Star Read

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