Doctor Who: A Life of Matter and Death & By Hook or By Crook Review

It’s time to finish the comic stories featured in the Eighth Doctor’s first Graphic Novel compilation and look at two short stories that actually released either side of “Fire and Brimstone”, but I guess for the sake of smoother storytelling were bundled together at the end of the book. The first is a celebration of the DWM continuity for the 250th issue, and the second is a harmless single-issue story. Not a lot to cover, but I wasn’t going to leave them out! Let’s take a look…

Synopsis (of “A Life of Matter and Death”):

After an explosion in the TARDIS, the Eighth Doctor and Izzy wake to find themselves on trial by “Jurors of the Limbo Inbetween” to determine whether they will “reside up above or burn in torment down below.” …

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

A single panel gets across the whole tone of “By Hook or By Crook”!

Both stories are harmless, but out of the two I have to give the nod to “By Hook or By Crook”. Izzy is reading “Tar-Ka-Nom: A History of a City State” just as The Doctor and her arrive at Tar-Ka-Nom itself. The Doctor wants to explore, but Izzy wants to finish the chapter she’s on, so the former wanders off, annoyed at Izzy’s prediction that he’ll be in trouble within the hour. Sure enough the Time Lord is soon accused of murder (of “7 jam merchants”) and wizzes past Izzy in the back of a squad car, leaving his companion to try and break him out by smuggling the sonic screwdriver in a cake, which only lands her in prison as well. When everything seems lost, Izzy finds out the year and realises she remembers reading about this very case in her book earlier and uses her one phone call to give the police the name and address of the actual murderer. They’re released and The Doctor remarks that that was “cheating”, but hey… it worked! It’s a really fun, light-hearted adventure and has a bit more of a cartoony art style to go with it.

The Bad:

It’s a “spot the cameo” panel! The first of two from this story featured in this very review… because so few panels have been scanned.

While “A Life of Matter and Death” isn’t actually bad, especially at only one issue, I can’t say it’s particularly good either. The Doctor is put on trial and judged by three of his more memorable enemies from DWM comic strip’s past: General Ironicus, Dogbolter and Beep the Meep, but a human personification of the TARDIS soon tells him that a parasite has latched onto the time machine and this is all an illusion, so soon he takes part in a mental battle with the creature. It conjures up a bunch of DWM villains, The Doctor conjures up a bunch of DWM heroes, and the two sides do battle until The Doctor wins, with himself and Izzy waking up in the TARDIS a little confused. It’s fine as a celebration of DWM’s past, but just reading it on its own in amongst other, more focused stories… it’s not really up to much.

The Continuity:

Here’s the second “cameo panel”, already featured in the opening graphic, but hey-ho. I was surprised I found two panels for a single-issue story!

As already mentioned, the first story features extended cameos from General Ironicus from “The Iron Legion” (both a comic and audio now!), Beep the Meep from “The Star Beast” (also both a comic and audio) and Dogbolter, who first appeared in the comic “The Moderator” and has gone on to appear in various comics and audios since. In terms of the big battle at the end there are far too many cameos to list here, plus a few of them could reference a few different stories any way. Basically think of any character from Doctor Who Magazine up to this point that had even the slightest memorable role and he or she made a cameo here…

As for “By Hook or By Crook” … nothing! It’s entirely continuity free.

Overall Thoughts:

One of those panels that out of context makes no sense. Classic! Also reading back I now see I’ve used the word “Panel” in every one of these pictures on this review. I guess that’s what happens when the story has so little plot to comment on

It’s hard to be too harsh on “A Life of Matter and Death”, it accomplished what it was written to accomplish in DWM issue 250, but it’s not the best read. I did really enjoy “By Hook or By Crook” though, it used the limited length perfectly, and had good humour too. As for two stories bundled at the end of the “Endgame” GN? They’re harmless extra bits, really…

A Life of Matter and Death:

By Hook or By Crook:

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