Doctor Who: The Way of All Flesh Review

The Way of All Flesh is the first story after “Ophidius / Beautiful Freak” which I reviewed a year or so back, so it’s nice to finally be “caught up” so to speak and remind myself of what happens to Izzy now she inhabits an alien body that isn’t hers. This story also does that now-classic-but-then-rare thing of The Doctor meeting a historical figure in their own time, in this case two figures in Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, who I’ll admit I have no idea about beyond what’s said in these four issues, but that’s me and my lack of interest in art for you! So let’s get this next batch of Eighth Doctor comics going then, shall we?

Synopsis:

It’s November 2nd 1941 in Coyoacan, Mexico, “The Day of the Dead”, and The Doctor had picked up strange energy readings. He heads out in the festivities alone, Izzy too worried about her appearance to risk going out…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

You’d think The Doctor would be a bit more encouraging, even if they’re both right…

The story can be broken down into two distinct halves: The Doctor and Diego meet the core villains, and Izzy and Frida bond over their respective issues, before the two stories merge. While The Doctor and Diego’s journey isn’t the most exciting I did really enjoy Izzy and Frida. It starts off with the artistic Mexican couple accidentally running Izzy down in their car and taking the odd looking stranger into their home. From there Diego goes to find The Doctor while Izzy stops Frida from touching a ghost of her grandfather because she saw another local touch a ghost and get turned into red mush. The odd revelation leads to the two heading off to seek The Doctor and Diego.

During this time they talk and Izzy reveals how she is in another body and how Frida “wouldn’t understand what she’s going through”, which leads the artist to reveal about the car accident that broke her spine and how even though she regained the ability to walk the pain she deals with every day makes it feel like she is in a different body, but she carries on. It was an interesting look at some real issues, in the middle of Doctor Who insanity. Much like “Beautiful Freak” before it, it was very well written.

To give a bit of context to the ghosts, they’re a race of aliens known as the Torajenn, and they can make themselves look like images from photos and feast on people by having them touch them, so they’re using the Day of the Dead to appear before people at a time where they were most likely to accept the idea of their relatives coming back from the dead. I mention this because they use Izzy’s picture of her old body to appeal to her before Frida snaps her out of it and the photo gets destroyed to Izzy’s horror. At the end of the story Frida paints a picture of Izzy as she poses, but the painting turns out to be of her human body, telling her it’s important to accept who you are now, but also to never forget where you came from. Very sweet ending.

The Bad:

Well drawn panel, zero interest in the villain. A shame…

While “Bad” is probably overstating it, The Doctor and Diego’s face-off with not only the aforementioned Torajenn but their leader Susini isn’t exactly thrilling. The Torajenn are just your classic DWM floating skeletal / energy beings and Susini is a “Necrotist”, an artist who believes true beauty is only found in the moment of one’s death, which is an interesting concept (and the art aspect matches with Diego and Frida) but she herself is just like an uninteresting Goth character. It’s all just… “Meh”. The Torajenn are dissipated by a weapon Susini was keeping just in case they turn against her while Susini herself begins to create a large tower of corpses and skeletons using a vortex thingie. She is knocked into the vortex by Diego and becomes part of her own horrid creation in a predictable, but fitting death. It’s a fine little story, but not all that memorable save for the Izzy / Frida stuff in the “Good” section…

The Continuity:

I do wonder just how many of DWM original alien species are just floating energy skeletons… Also: that was a really weird sentence to type.

Susini isn’t the only Necrotist The Doctor will encounter. Azrael and Monos from the Eleventh Doctor DWM comics “The Blood of Azrael” and “Sticks and Stones” respectively are also of the same artistic persuasion.

That’s about it though, apart from obviously still dealing with the fallout of Ophidius. The Tenth Doctor does mention visiting Diego and Frida on more than one occasion in the Titan Comics story “Revolutions of Terror”, which introduces a Hispanic companion in Gabby.

Overall Thoughts:

That’s just cruel so soon after Beautiful Freak…

“The Way of All Flesh” is an average story at its core, but the Izzy / Frida storyline elevates it to a very good story. The villains are nothing special, but some of that dialogue was. A good little four-issue story overall.

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