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Doctor Who: Voyager

by Steve Parkhouse and John Ridgway, Marvel Comics. Reviewed by Simon Moore

First Appeared in Burnt Toast#6, 1990

Doctor Who: VoyagerOver the last few years, the comic strips in Doctor Who Magazine have been a little poor. From strips about how the Doctor taught history how to play Conkers, to four part Dalek "epics" with the ridiculous Abslom Daak, left over from when DWM was little more than a children's weekly comic. For those of you relatively new to the magazine, the thought of a fully colourised collection of a series of strips from the Colin Baker era would probably create a brief sensation of "big woop", and "what a waste of time and money".

The Voyager graphic novel is good. Really good. From the good artwork to the glossy pages, the novel exudes goodness. They have been colourised in a perfectly natural way, making them look as if the colour had been removed for the original printing in DWM.

Perhaps the best thing, though, is that like the television program, it is designed for adults as much as it is for children. It is easy and attractive to read with lots of things going on, and plenty of WHOOOOM's, VWORP's and AAARG's. There are also lots of very nice touches that only the older readers may understand, being based mainly on puns, and also on sly references to Colin's Doctor. The orange bath robe the Doctor wears when he steps out into the snow even has a little cat on it, and the pyjamas underneath are a brilliant shade of green. Little things like that make one say -- "Ah yes. Definitely Colin."

What one is also struck by is the quality of the writing. The story is actually quite terrifying, and the Doctor's dream sequences are, er... amazing. It genuinely does with cartoon images what simply cannot be done on screen, rather than toning everything down to make it appear as if it was a "comicalisation". Images of giant Kraken, mammoth waterfalls, and bizarre frames where the Doctor appears to be falling through space into someone's mouth.

The organisation of images on the page and within frames is fantastic, making John Ridgway look like a director. There are "shots" with depth and clarity in every part. "Lighting" is well controlled, making characters appear dark or terrified where necessary. The "editing" comes close to the rhythm of Andrew Morgan.

Great chunks of the novel have been "omnibussed", so that the cliff-hangers we would experience every month are gone. It's quite easy to work out where. Just count out every eight pages. You'll find them.

If you have not already purchased this objet d'art, do so yesterday. It is wonderfully superb, so to speak. It may cost a few pence more than a Target novel, but it is well worth it. Even ye oldies who were around when this was first created in 1984/5 should purchase the new colour version "complete and unedited". Of course, it must be remembered that these were made in black and white. The purists can always turn the colour down, I suppose.


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