Tuesday, January 12, 2010

'Doctor Who: Black Death White Life' - Guest Review by Simon Breeze

Regular visitors to Escape from Tomorrow might remember a creator spotlight feature I wrote a couple of months ago focusing on artist and writer Simon Breeze. I've been following Simon's work for some time now and I've been shamelessly plugging his work wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.

I was delighted, therefore, to receive an email from Simon a couple of days ago responding to my appeal for 'guest bloggers' to submit an occasional post for publication - sit back and enjoy his review of Doctor Who: Black Death White Life

Doctor Who: Black Death White Life

The Doctor and his companion Martha Jones mistakenly travel back in time to a Black Death teeming London of 1669, where a mysterious healer under the guise of an angel cures the sick from the plague, and in great Doctor Who tradition, all is not as it first appears …

Oddly, being a huge Doctor Who fan and a massive reader of Sci-Fi comics, I must admit I don’t read any Doctor Who comic books. Okay, I’ve read the odd novel, but never a comic book. Well, where to start ...

Overall this was a very good read, good ‘cliff-hangerish’ (is that even a word?) start, cool bad guys, the Doctor being the Doctor and Martha Jones, one of my favourite companions, in a one-shot story.

What didn’t I like? Tom Mandrake’s art for one, which is a personal thing - as Zaius often says 'there's no such thing as bad art ...', but I’m putting it out there to elevate the fantastic colouring by the stories writer, Charlie Kirchoff, it really adds mood to the art. Tom Mandrake’s art isn't all bad [note from Zaius: ''there's no such thing as bad art ...'], it works in the stories favour in that it looks (I’m not entirely sure that I am right when I say this, but I like to think so) like it has been inked by brushwork, giving it a heavy inked look with lots of hatching and shadows, this gives the story an ‘old’ look. Where it falls down is the likenesses of the Doctor and Martha, they are close enough to be annoying, you know it is the Doctor and Martha, but it is not quite right in my mind. Again, it's a personal thing. Grrrrr!

A couple of other minor things that bugged me: the story, the introduction of the Doctor and Martha, it hinged on the Doctor getting the year wrong, the original destination was meant to be 1969, however, oops, and the Doctor got it wrong ... again. Other than that, I was loving the story until the bad guys get revealed as aliens, then it lost me, it totally pulled me out of the story, ‘For we are, 'Macro-Virus!' please!

The story went down hill a bit from there, These really cool looking ‘Plague Doctors’ all dressed in black with raven-like gas masks with deep red lenses, truly creepy to say the least, burst from their robes and turn into what I can only describe as a giant pointy thing with three huge claws. The angel from the start fairs no better. Starts life as a really eerie, ace looking, huge medieval Jawa from Star Wars and is revealed later in the story to really be the guy from the old Ready Break adverts on TV(!).

What I liked, I really liked! The colouring, as I said was awesome, it really added to the story and elevated the art throughout. The bad guys, again, they were brilliant in their first incarnation, real creepy. It is good to see a story with Martha Jones in it, and despite my picky points, the story is an enjoyable read. So I guess it comes down to, would I buy, borrow or not bother with this comic? I’d borrow it, it is a good read, it won’t change your life even if you are a Doctor Who fan, but should the opportunity come along to read a copy, it is a good investment of half an hour of your life in my opinion, and off of the back of this I will definitely be reading more of the IDW Doctor Who comics in the future.

Doctor Who: Black Death White Life
Written & Coloured by Charlie Kirchoff, Art by Tom Mandrake, Letters by Chris Mowry
Published by IDW Publishing

Once again, my thanks to Simon for taking time to write and send his review and a reminder that you can find this work on DeviantArt and at his blog - where you can also read his original Doctor Who adventure - Doctor Who and the Edge of Forever - which has, incredibly, been viewed online nearly 10,000 times in just 4 months.

Whether you're a new or a long-time admirer of Simon's work you'll be interested to hear that he and I are currently working to schedule a telephone conversation where we'll be able to talk at length about his work, his influences and particularly his forthcoming fantasy/adventure tale that goes by the working title Between the Darkness and the Light.

Keep watching this space!