Doctor Who: The Heralds of Destruction
Paul Cornell, Christopher Jones & Hi-Fi
Alongside their current continuing run for all the post 2005 Doctors Titan Comics have been putting out mini-series for past Doctors. So far we have had excellent runs for the Eighth Doctor by George Mann and Emma Vieceli and the Fourth Doctor by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby and Brain Williamson. Now comes a new comic based adventure for the Third Doctor from Paul Cornell and Christopher Jones.
This is something of a bittersweet affair insofar as Cornell has announced that this will be the last piece of Doctor Who he is going to write but he is going out with a celebratory fireworks display of technicolour 70s nostalgia.
Cornell perfectly captures the spirit of the Pertwee era in an adventure set not long after The Three Doctors. All the UNIT family appear including some of the supporting characters who popped along the way. There is a connection made between the original and new series UNIT that has been part of my personal head canon since Day of the Doctor so I was very pleased to see it turn up here. The dialogue is also pitch perfect, capturing the cadence and language of each of the characters. I could particularly hear the Brigadier as though Nicolas Courtney were speaking out loud. There are also nice bits of character development for where fans know that the series will go. Hints of Mike Yates becoming disillusioned and wistful for simpler times that will make him a prime recruit for operation Golden Age.
While initially it appears that the antagonist will be The Master, because of course it is, Cornell pulls a number of surprises. The first is the climax of issue 1 which leads you to believe that what we are getting is a sequel to another Pertwee story. Just when you are getting comfortable with that the rug is pulled out from under you again by the end of issue 3 with a cliffhanger that would be spoilery to even hint at. It is a twist pulled off with the showmanship of a stage magician and should leave you suitably awestruck by the sheer audacity of it.
Christopher Jones’ artwork is equal to the quality of the script. All the likenesses are just perfect and he captures Pertwee’s physical performance right down to thoughtful neck rub and the legendary Pertwee gurning when under attack. There is a hint of the art style of the Pertwee comics of the 70s while also feeling modern. There is a journey into Jo Grant’s subconscious that allows Jones to go full 70s psychedelia.
I feel special mention should be made of the work done by Hi-Fi, Brian Miller’s colourist outfit, who have very much been Titan Comics’ secret weapon across their entire range. Their work on this and all the other Doctor Who titles is uniformly excellent and they have been a huge contributing factor to capturing the ear and spirit of each Doctor.
The story ends with a rousing and touching speech from the Doctor about knowing when to move on and take the next step. Knowing that this is Paul Cornell’s last Doctor Who the double meaning is clear which makes it all the more touching. He has written for Doctor Who in pretty much every form of media that the show has appeared in and has written some of the truly standout moments of the Eccleston and Tennent eras.
This comic is a joyous love letter to 70s Doctor Who. If you have never picked up any of the Titan comics and want to give them a try then this is the one to go for. Five issues near flawless Doctor Who from one of its best contemporary storytellers.