I’ve now brought the last bunch of “Year Two” Titan Comics paperback releases, so let’s finish the frankly over-crowded year off, shall we? We start with the first of two volumes starring the Ninth Doctor and co., one where he encounters a rather fourth-wall-breaking show called “Doctor Who?” that’s all about him… Do they pull this rather on-the-nose story off? Did they bring back the Slitheen without doing any fart gags? Read on to find out!
When the Ninth Doctor lands on Gharusa in search of a secret from Captain Jack’s missing past, the last thing he, Jack, and Rose expect to find is the Doctor’s face plastered all over the planet’s television screens – and a crowd of screaming fans! When Doctormania strikes, is anyone safe?! Plus – some shocking friends from the Doctor’s past – or is that his future? – pull the TARDIS team into high-stakes alien adventure in San Francisco!
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Our lead trio, running for their lives… as per usual!
The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) – The Doctor is enjoying his time travelling with Rose and Jack, no purpose, just enjoying the ride, something he hasn’t done since before the Time War. That being said, it doesn’t mean his life is any easier…
Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) – Rose has had a great time with the Doctor, and now travelling alongside Jack, she’s enjoying herself even more, even taking into account all the death and destruction she sees on a regular basis…
Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) – Captain Jack iss a former Time Agent who has lost his memory, and although he is enjoying his trips with The Doctor and Rose, his hidden history is still on the back of his mind…
Taggani –A wanted criminal, Taggani is a “Geohacker”, someone who can literally alter a planet and use it like the graffiti artist uses a wall…
Slist Fayflut Marteveerthon Slitheen – Slist is a member of the now near-extinct Slitheen family of Raxacoricofallapatorians and is using The Doctor’s image in order to both hide and gain money and fame.
Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) – Mickey has survived a long series of increasingly crazy adventures involving The Doctor, but when his wife is turned into a weird gargoyle creature, he calls him back into his life. Sadly for him, it’s not the right Doctor he was after…
Older Mickey meets younger (and more Nothern) Dctor!
I’ll mention here that this volume has captured the look, and most importantly the voice, of the Ninth Doctor, Rose and Jack. Given how short Mr. Eccleston’s run on Who was, it’s nice to get a authentic-feeling couple of new stories for him. That’s a definite plus overall for this volume.
The first story, “Hacked”, is a few pages long, I believe it was a special release of some kind, and it was fine. The lead villain, Taggani, looks good and has a unique background of a “cool” street artist-type guy who was defacing planets rather than walls, but one day one of his messages went too far ended up wiping out a planet… So, not so cool. Anyway, the Doctor puts a stop to him by destroying his mask and revealing the plain-looking guy underneath. It’s a short story, and entertaining enough.
I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of bringing back the Slitheen for the titular “Doctormania” story, even if they’re heavily tied to the Ninth Doctor’s era. Thankfully their actual potential is used here, as gone are the super-childish fart gags (yes, there are ways of doing toilet humour that works and can still be funny regardless of age, but not the ways shown in their TV stories…) and with the exception of one burp scene, they’re actually aliens who assimilate themselves into societies by wearing the skins of the species they meet, which is a terrifying concept when not ruined by people talking about “juicy farts”. There were some good scenes in the later story involving the main Slitheen getting hurt and Rose protecting her, eventually leading to a redemption of sorts. It’s an alright story, but ruined by some decisions you can see in the Bad section!
Although I wasn’t a big fan of the story overall, the final story of the bunch,“The Transformed”, did at least have the unique (and only doable this long after a Doctor’s run) idea of having a post-Tenth Doctor Mickey Smith accidentally call the Ninth Doctor in for help. It worked well given how differently the two Doctors treated him, and I liked that Mickey had to stay away from Rose, and Mickey’s wife, which we know as Martha Jones, was in the story but as a mute gargoyle-like creature, so the Doctor didn’t get his future spoiled either. Some fun, if not a little unnecessary, bit of continuity playing.
Something just not right about this panel, and The Doctor agrees!
A big part of “Doctormania” was the Doctor and co. arriving on a planet that has a TV show called “Doctor Who?” starring the Ninth incarnation himself. It turned out to be a Slitheen in a new “printed skin” rather than the actual skin of the Doctor, which is kind of fun, but I really didn’t like the meta, fourth wall breaking done by not only the show, but by having the real Doctor swarmed by fangirls. As well as that I just wasn’t interested in the political struggles of the Slitheen planetary system, so the story as a whole wasn’t great…
As for “The Transformed”, I liked the little reference to the TV movie (San Francisco being a weak point for other dimensional energy) and the Mickey stuff I mentioned above, but the main plot involves people having the ability to fly, including Rose sooner rather than later, and eventually these flying people turn into gargoyle like creatures. Just the whole superhero-like stuff just didn’t seem to suit Doctor Who (felt the same way about “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” Twelfth Doctor Christmas Special) so I, much like Doctormania before it, just wasn’t all that invested…
Nine bodies and not a single Slitheen, then suddenly you can’t move for ’em!
Despite being so short, “Hacked” has a few things to note. It’s set on The Eye of Orion, much like the TV Anniversary story “The Five Doctors”, and much like that story the Doctor describes it as “the most tranquil place in the universe”. During a flashback to a war from millennia ago, some Daemons from Third Doctor TV Story “The Daemons”, and Osirans from Fourth Doctor story “The Pyramids of Mars” (among others) are visible. Also Taggani is said to have worked at the “Braxiatel Collection”, which is a rare artefact and art archive that’s featured in many books and audios previously.
As for “Doctormania”, the Slitheen were first seen in Ninth Doctor TV two-parter “Aliens of London / World War Three”, and later reappear in “Boom Town” in the same series, though that’s set after this story. Several mentions and even a screenshot come from “Weapons of Past Destruction”, the Ninth Doctor one-off comic story that has since become Titan’s Ninth Doctor Volume 1. The fake Doctor faces off with robots that are called “Chumblies”, but the Doctor constantly says how they don’t look anything like them, which they don’t! The far smaller and less threatening Chumblies appear in the First Doctor TV story “Galaxy 4”.
Apart from Mickey and Martha appearing in their post-Tenth Doctor looks, and the reference to the Eighth Doctor’s single proper TV outing in “The TV Movie” that I already mentioned, “The Transformed” is actually light on the continuity…
Doctormania gets one of the major obstacles right: The Ninth Doctor, Rose and Jack all look and sound like the characters from TV, which often isn’t the case in these Titan comics releases. That being said the stories themselves don’t light the world on fire, or at the very least didn’t resonate with me personally. Fingers crossed for the next volume, which given the one-page cliffhanger of this volume, could be really good!