This was definitely a tale of timey-wimey paradoxes. The TARDIS breaks down, and the Doctor can’t get it to Cardiff to recharge it, so he employs the help of H.G. Wells and John Smith. The Doctor, being himself, keeps telling H.G. Wells he needs to get writing that book. Oh, the Doctor and his dropping hints of the future to artists he admires. The real reason that the Doctor can’t go to Cardiff is that Torchwood is following him. This must be one of the times pre-Jack joining them. Torchwood wants to capture the Doctor and study him. But the Doctor can’t have that.
Turns out that John Smith’s actually working against the Doctor. (One first assumes that he’s working with Torchwood, which it turns out that he’s not.) This is pretty obvious when the Doctor meets him and comments that John Smith is a common name. And one who knows Doctor Who history remembers that the Doctor himself has used John Smith as an alias. John Smith starts off the comic by lying.
However, when Torchwood captures H.G. Wells instead, he pretty willingly gives up the Doctor’s location.
That said, it’s the Doctor and this is a timey-wimey tale. There’s a twist and the appearance of the Fourth Doctor. Just to keep you on your toes.
So this story doesn’t start off too badly for a Doctor Who tale and another timey-wimey tale. But I feel like Johnston trips up over his overly eager attempt at telling a cleaver Doctor Who tale. He tries, but he doesn’t quite make it. I really think it should’ve been more fun, and Johnston shouldn’t have tried to teach some moral lesson about not being able to see from other’s point-of-views.
That said, I did give the mediating Doctor, who I’m pretty sure starts singing the beginnings of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” a chuckle.
The morality tale feels weird because essential the story is about a bunch of cultures coming together in order to stop the spread of a plague. These are the beings that are left, who survived, who want to continue to survive. They already seem to be cooperating together.
Mootz and Lootz play the ineffectual roles of inspectors of a murder. They are a big bumbling, especially when going up against the Doctor and his experience. The Doctor who always tries to see more than they can. Mootz and Lootz are the ones who wrongly, or rightly, pin the murder on Tx, who’s from a culture called the Counters which lives their lives backwards. Which Johnston wrongly labels them as non-linear. The Counter people do live linearly, from one action to the next. If anyone is non-linear, it would be the Time Lord himself.
It is the Doctor who discovers innocence and celebrates Tx’s birth as his oldest friend. To Mootz and Lootz, it is a grim tale.
J’s art was pretty bad too. Perhaps the worst I’ve seen on a Doctor Who comic. The Doctor often looked more like Sean Lennon than David Tennant.
Anyway, this wasn’t as good or as clever as it wanted to be.
The Whispering Gallery was everything I wanted in a tie-in comic book. It stayed true to the characters and brought an interesting plot to the world.
I really enjoyed Templesmith’s art. I loved the sketchiness of it, and I also adored the water-coloring. The desaturated palette really sets the tone right for the journey the Doctor and Martha are on. Desaturation helps tell the story about a world where all emotions are kept bottled up. I also loved Morkon, the monster, in this art style as this spider-like blob would’ve been ridiculous without the watercolors and desaturation. Morkon is a hulking shadow instead of a bold black blob, which almost makes him actually scary. The pages are beautiful and a joy to read.
Martha’s characterization here was beyond perfect. She was human and emotional. Martha expressed sorrow about the Grattites’ Whispering Gallery, being full of portraits of their dead and their captured last words. She tugs at my heart as she starts matching up those that never were able to express their love to each other.
I love the Doctor walking in the rain to Grayla’s grave with his blue, green, and red umbrella. And how he keeps all his emotions under wraps until he’s in the graveyard. I adored how both the Doctor and Martha have the same reaction when Morkon sneaks up behind them, especially as they’re so absorbed in their emotions.
Morkon going splat with all the Doctor’s emotions was very classic Doctor Who. I also love the image of Morkon shaking Martha in the Tardis and Martha longing to be with her family one more time. (Particularly poignant after she listened to all those last words.)
I loved the Doctor giving Grayla the credit for changing the Grattites’ world and making them an emotion-filled people. It made her feel like a true companion even if the Doctor’s thoughts of her were mostly wishing that he’d asked her to stay aboard.
Overall, I really loved this story and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading a great Doctor Who comic.
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