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Retro Review – Doctor Who: The Heralds of Destruction

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor
The Heralds of Destruction

Doctor Who has always been my first science fiction love, and although my passion for the franchise has cooled significantly since the reboot with Christopher Eccleston, the classic Doctors will always have a place in my heart(s). So it is with much rejoicing that I begin to read Paul Cornell‘s mini-series, Doctor Who: The Third Doctor The Heralds of Destruction.

Story

Paul Cornell is a stalwart of Whovian fiction. He was writing Doctor Who while I was growing up in the wilderness years. He started with the Virgin New Adventures seriesth—telling the ongoing stories of the Seventh Doctor and creating the popular character of Bernice Summerfield. He also wrote audio plays for Big Finish Productions and screenplays for the new Doctor Who series.

The story is set after the Time Lords give the Doctor his knowledge of time travel and his TARDIS dematerialisation circuit back, when he and his former selves helped defeat Omega in The Three Doctors. This story sees the Doctor and companion Jo Grant firmly on Earth, with Cyberman-like creatures attacking the town of Fairford. The Master appears to upset the Doctor’s plans, and a blast from the Doctor’s past reappears as the main antagonist.

Cornell weaves an impressive story which doesn’t wallow in nostalgia. He brings a modern dynamism to the 1970s era, which, combined with the beautifully detailed and recognisable artwork, makes this a captivating read. There are cleverly inspired scenes that set up later events in this eraincluding nods to Mike Yates’ eventual deceit and treachery in “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”and a familiar face who points to a family involvement in modern-day UNIT.

Art

The artwork by Christopher Jones evoke Jon Pertwee’s era perfectly: the dandified, elegant Doctor in the flamboyant velvet jack and ruffled tuxedo shirt, complete with silk-lined opera cloak. And so perfect are the Master, the Brigadierin fact, the whole classic UNIT team, from Sergeant Benton to Mike Yates, makes an appearance. My personal favorite, however, was Jones’ take on Roger Delgado’s Master. This truly is Titan comics picking up from where BBC left off in the glory days of 1973.

Colourist Hi-Fi brings out some of the most (suitably) psychedelic moments during the middle issue. There’s a wonderful palette used  and the expressive quality of the characters’ faces bring them to life. There are many panels that I would proudly display on the walls of my house. The whole feeling evokes the era of the Third Doctor and I fell completely in love with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor all over again.

Conclusion

There are rumours that this is Cornell’s last story involving our beloved Time Lord. I will truly be sorry to see this man finally leave his quill at the side of his desk when it comes to Whovian fiction. His mastery of the characters and innovation gave me much pleasure when I was starting on my journey to becoming a Whovian (I was at school and had no Doctor Who on television). It was writers like Paul Cornell, John Peel, Andrew Cartmel, and Jim Mortimore who introduced me to this iconic leader in science fiction history.

This is a compilation released by Titan and is available at the links below:

Titan Comics

Amazon

Comixology


 

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About the author

Dr. Chris McAuley

Chris McAuley is a relatively new Nerd, having began his writing career reviewing old copies of 2000AD, he quickly progressed to interviewing major alumni of the comic book industry including Pat Mills, Grant Morrison, Glenn Fabry. Writing acclaimed reviews and features on Comic books and video games, he is also a Test Reader for Millsverse.

His background is in theology and it is in this arena which he gained his PHD, believing that story is crucial to human beings and that most modern cultural narrative experiences are driven from the ancient and the mythological.

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