Continuing my look through the Doctor Who Magazine “Doorway to Hell” graphic novel we get the next two stories, Bloodsport and Be Forgot, before we get to the “main event”, so to speak. Bloodsport is a perfectly fine little tale with a rather bluntly delivered message, and Be Forgot is a rather harrowingly realistic portrayal of a man suffering from mental health issues… which is nice to see portrayed now and again, and so well too. Let’s take a look at them!
Synopsis (of Bloodsport):
The Doctor takes Jess and Maxwell to the National Gallery, and as per usual the innocent trip ends up with an alien creature appearing and all hell breaking lose!
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Blue-skinned Toffs from outer space!
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) – The Doctor is stranded on Earth in 70s all over again, though this time instead if working for UNIT, The Doctor is living with the Collins family… Though oddly there doesn’t seem to be much difference…
Jess Collins – Jess is an art student who is now trying to help The Doctor “fit in” to a more regular life on Earth… which is easier said than done!
Maxwell Collins – Maxwell is Jess’s younger brother. He loves comic books and dislikes art and stuff… so, pretty generic, really.
Skadi – The leader of the Kolothos Hunt, a group of hunters (from Kolothos, no less!) who continue to hunt rare animals in spite of their home planet’s rules against it…
Tarquel – The son of Skadi who isn’t really into hunting like his parents, but is being forced to go along with their outdated ideals…
Walter – The Collins’ neighbour across the street. He lost his mother last year, and has begun to suffer a mental breakdown as the anniversary of the event approaches…
A shot of poor Walter.
The standout has to be “Be Forgot”, which sees the Collins’ neighbour Walter believe he is being haunted by comic book villain “Obadiah Grimm”, the ghostly spirit he thinks to be responsible for taking his mother away. In reality, he’s just suffering a breakdown as the anniversary approaches (on Christmas Eve no less). The Doctor, Jess and Jess’s mum Devina try to calm him down, but all he does is hallucinate them all being killed and it being his fault. He’s escorted off in an ambulance the Devina feels sorry for forgetting the anniversary and not helping out. It’s the kind of representation of mental health that is good to see, though I wouldn’t want my Doctor Who comics to be this close to reality on a regular basis!
Bloodsport is a mixed bag, but I’ll put it here because it was still a fun read. An alien couple that happen to act and talk exactly like upper-class posh Englishmen are still hunting innocent creatures despite laws being passed to stop the act. It’s the most on-the-nose thing you’ll read all year, but I don’t think the writer was trying to be subtle (at least I hope not!). Jess and Max get captured and soon The Doctor offers them the last of the Time Lords to hunt, and soon they of course get outsmarted, and betrayed by their son who never wanted to hunt in the first place. It’s simple fun, I didn’t mind it, but it wasn’t exactly deep or cleverly written!
Both stories are well drawn this time too, with Be Forgot getting a more realistic colour pallet than suits the darker, more real story.
Not what you’d imagine the end to such a sad story being…
Beyond the unsubtle message in Bloodsport, there isn’t much to say. That’s what happens when you review a two-part story and a single-part one! If they’re at least average and well drawn then there won’t be much material to criticise…
I will say that Devina throwing a Christmas party with everyone in the neighbourhood after she came back from seeing Walter, who’s still in hospital, seemed some how … wrong. She wanted to stay in touch with everyone in the neighbourhood so it doesn’t happen again, fair enough, but I couldn’t help but feel such a story ending on a party without the sufferer there seems inappropriate somehow!
Beyond obviously connecting to the previous two stories with the Collins family, nothing much, which is surprising given we see Skadi’s alien menagerie, which you would have thought would be ideal for alien race cameos!
The Eleventh Doctor TV story “Vincent and The Doctor”, did a similar look into depression and mental health, though it was questionable as to whether the creature that haunted Van Gogh was actually real or a side effect of the mental disease.
Skadi, in all her glory… I guess? (It was hard to find four pictures for these two stories…)
Bloodsport is a decent effort, and for a small two-part story in the middle of the graphic novel it was fine. Be Forgot was a well written examination of the effects of mental health and how people might miss the signs, and is good for being a single 12-page story. A good duo for the middle of the GN, then!