The 12th Doctor “Year Two” run of Titan Comics comes to a mixed end with a volumes of two more stories. “Terror of the Cabinet Noir” is actually a great story, with some of the best artwork I’ve seen in one of these comic stories, where as “Invasion of the Mindmorphs” is pretty weak, and pretty much a rip off of a classic Futurama story… So, let’s take a closer look at this collected graphic novel of two halves!
Synopsis (For “Terror of the Cabinet Noir”):
After dropping off one-time companion Hattie in the Twist, the Doctor finds himself in Paris, France in the 17th century curing the reign of King Louis XIV. However, something is seriously wrong: Cardinal Richelieu still has the city in his iron grip when he should’ve died fifty years ago, but he is doing more than cheating death. He has allies that are not from around here and is planning to plunge France and the entire world into darkness.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
This is far from the first time The Doctor has had to sword fight!
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) – The Doctor is travelling alone, having fun seeing where he ends up, and trying not to think about the companion he can’t remember…
Julie d’Aubigny – Julie is a swordswoman and opera singer from 17th century France, who is always up for a sword fight with some local ruffians… or Doctors who criticize her singing…
Cardinal Richelieu – The Cardinal was supposed to be long dead, but a deal with the devil has kept him alive… but at what cost?
Val Kent and Sonny Robinson – Val and Sonny are two comic writers / artists who have been creating the “Time Surgeon” comics, based off of hearsay about The Doctor. They’re in for quite a surprise when their muse shows up in person!
The Mindmorphs – Flying brains that like to enslave races and can create constructs based on other people’s memories.
For once I don’t mind the Sonic Shades, they’re actually logical at this point!
“Terror of the Cabinet Noir” is a great story, with frankly amazing artwork. The Doctor encounters Julie d’Aubigny, a fun historical character that I’m surprised hasn’t shown up in TV or Audio over the years. The two play off of each other really well, soon developing a great Doctor-Companion repartee, and Cardinal Richelieu and his weird… black other-dimensional parasite make for good baddies.
Again, credit to the artwork here, but there are quite unnerving pictures throughout the story where dead people come back to life with black eyes, or people suddenly get hung by killer gargoyles (yeah, they were a thing as well), and you also get an Indiana Jones, arc-of-the-covenant-opening, melty face moment for our lead bad guy as well. Basically Richelieu made a deal with a being from a pitch black dimension who wishes to break through to this one and plunge it into darkness, leaving The Doctor to eventually get the TARDIS to bombard the dark entities with extremely harsh light from “Saberhagan Quasar”, which is apparently “one of the brightest light sources in the universe”. It works, I guess!
So yeah, overall Cabinet Noir is a great story, three-parts long is just enough to establish a great, and sadly temporary, Doctor-Companion combination and give us enough of a villain to be happy seeing them destroyed. Plus, for the third time this section, the art is GREAT.
“Now I will leave Earth, for no raison!”
As I mentioned in my review of the Ninth Doctor story “Doctormania!”, I really dislike it when they create a show within a show that’s based off of the show… er, if you know what I mean. Time Surgeon was a quick gag in the other 12th Doctor Titan comic story “The Fourth Wall”, but here it’s full on, complete with a few pages of fake Doctor Who-like scenes. It just breaks all illusions to me.
The Doctor tracks down the writer and artist and takes them on several adventures, during which the two of them fall in love. That’s fair enough, and the idea of a comic artist and writer being companions is fun, but sadly the story isn’t. They soon arrive on a planet of flying brains straight out of Futurama, and they even defeat them in a similar manor using their imagination. There is also some scenes of the brains creating constructs from The Doctor’s memories, which was just an exercise in fanwank. Overall, “Invasion of the Mindmorphs” just… wasn’t very good. At all. The art was fine, but following on from “Terror of the Cabinet Noir” will make anything look bad…
Ah, the seeing old past selves through a mind attack trick!
The Fifth Doctor met Cardinal Richelieu during his correct time period during the audio story “The Church and the Crown”.
As previously mentioned, “The Time Surgion” appeared in “The Fourth Wall“. Among the mind constructs are various Cybermen, Zygons, Sontarans, etc. It also has a Menoptera from 1st Doctor TV story “The Web Planet”, and the Morbius monster from Fourth Doctor TV classic “The Brain of Morbius”, among others.
Really loved “Terror of the Cabinet Noir”, as I’m sure you can tell. Well written, well drawn, and just long enough to tell a good story without stretching it too far. “Invasion of the Mindmorphs” on the other hand was a poor and very familiar story, with some more “it’s like Doctor Who in the world of Doctor Who!” bollocks. In other words, I think this score may have to be split…
Terror of the Cabinet Noir:
Invasion of the Mindmorphs: