Doctor Who: Bad Blood Review

Bad Blood starts us off on the last story arc of the Eighth Doctor DWM comics, a sort of loose trilogy surrounding the return of Destrii. Bad Blood itself is also a good old fashioned “pseudo historical”, being set during the … *ahem* “incidents” between General Custer and local population in 1875. With that all said, what’s it actually like?

Synopsis:

The Doctor arrives in America and joins General George Custer and Tatanka Yotanka as men turn into monsters…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The Doctor sure does talk to himself a lot while he’s companionless…

The first few issues focus on The Doctor, General Custer and his men, and Sitting Bull and his men all coming under attack from werewolf-like creatures that the Natives call “Windigos”. Obviously making for strange bedfellows (and of course Custer assumes Sitting Bull and co. were responsible for a town’s population vanishing before the beasts appeared) the two groups manage to fight them off. This is where Destrii and her uncle Jodafra reappear, offering to help with their little Windigo problem. Sitting Bull and his men refuse and leave with The Doctor, where as Custer is happy to be supplied with new alien weapons with which to not only fight the demonic beasts but “tame the savages of the land” across the whole US.

The Doctor and Sitting Bull travel to the astral plain and meet a massive Windigo spirit that is transforming local people who had drank alcohol into the beasts they saw in the real world. It’s all based on real legends, which is fun! The Windigo captures The Doctor and Bull ready to kill them (or … devour their spirit forms?) but luckily our protagonist manages to scream in the real world and get himself and Sitting Bull woken up by a splash of water. During all this Custer and his men have been kidnapping children, and only children, of the native tribes as part of his deal with Jodafra, something he feels uneasy about, but is still willingly doing…

The Doctor, Sitting Bull and bunch of his men arrive at Jodafra’s ship, with The Doctor in particular ending up figuring out that the cat-man had made a deal with the Windigo, the stipulation being sacrificing a bunch of native children to restore him to the Earthly dimension in exchange for helping Jodafra cross the time stream. The Windigo appears and freezes time for everyone who isn’t a time traveller and all things look grim… until Destrii realises the poor children are like she was during her darkest childhood and that her uncle didn’t let her in on the whole sacrificing kids thing so she destroys Jodafra’s machine that was bringing the Windigo back. Time resumes, the Windigo is recast back into the void and Jodafra is pissed off. In a rather horrible scene he beats Destrii within an inch of her life and then leaves her face down in the snow. The Doctor stumbles across her and rushes her into the TARDIS to save the life of someone he doesn’t have a lot of respect for…

It’s five issues long but it changes the pace and characters enough that your attention never drifts, and while all this other-worldly nonsense is going on it does lose sight of Custer or Sitting Bull’s historical characters and the troubled history they share.

The Bad:

This where it’s appropriate to say “Uh-oh.”

I think my only real complaint was when The Doctor and Sitting Bull were travelling across the “spirit realm” and all The Doctor did was spout technobabble trying to justify such a fantasy-like concept appearing in the series. It felt unnecessary, it can just be a bit more fantastical without the need to explain everything… A minor complaint in the grand scheme of things…

That being said I can’t say this story is on the level of some of the other big stories in the DWM Eighth Doctor comic run. I can’t quite place why, but I guess it isn’t a big finale so things were kept a little slower and bit more low-key…

The Continuity:

Everything’s all smiles and sunshine…. to start with.

Destrii and Jodafra appeared a few stories ago in “Oblivion”, and while Destrii’s story continues in the next comic, “The Sins of the Father”, her cruel Uncle doesn’t reappear until the Twelfth Doctor comic “The Clockwise War”, where he finally gets his comeuppance.

Overall Thoughts:

The Doctor takes the fun out of astral projection for the sake of the die hard sci-fi fans reading. Oh well…

Bad Blood does a very good job of showing the troubling times as we know from history and weaving an alien plot based around the folklore of the time. We’re reintroduced to Destrii and Jodafra, the latter fully showing his rather unpleasant colours, and it all leads nicely into the next story. A perfectly good story I won’t mind reading again, though it does fall a little bit short compared to some of the big show-stopper stories from the DWM run…

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