Going into this review, I’m going to have to ding it a star right from the get-go because the Doctor isn’t accompanied by a penguin detective called Frobisher. He does still have Ace, though, who once beat up a dalek with a baseball bat soooooo….oh, alright then. I guess I’ll give it a fair shake. Nitro-9 and baseball bats trumps shapeshifting and piano playing.
Issue 1 of The Seventh Doctor adventure “Operation Volcano” kicks of in media res, with Ace, the Doctor and three other characters around a campfire, discussing why Ace has to do some unspecified thing to prevent more people dying. We then jump from that year of 1967, forward to 2029 where a shuttle clearing space debris in Earth orbit encounters a massive, apparently derelict spacecraft.
The same craft, we discover, that the Doctor is brought in to investigate in 1967 following it’s discovery in the Australian outback in the aftermath of the UK testing a hydrogen bomb atop what turns out to be a sacred Aboriginal site. We jump between these two time periods over the course of the comic as the story unfolds.
We’re introduced to our supporting cast who are made up of Group Captain Gilmore, who has worked with the 7th Doctor before, and Lieutenant Delafield. We also have Colonel Palmer from the Australian military, Professor Rachel Jensen and Doctor Allison Williams who have been investigating Aboriginal cave paintings, Daku Darana (who went to Trinity College, don’t you know) who represents the local aborigine tribes, Mr Pendry, who represents the British Government and Jimmy Benforado, a journalist.
Most of the comic here is scene setting, as you’d expect from a first issue. We swiftly establish that both Jimmy and Daku have ulterior methods for being there, that there’s a degree of tension within the various factions of this little group, and that everyone is most definitely not what they appear to be.
The art style is crisp and clean, with both The Doctor and Ace being great representations of their real-life actors. I also love the insectoid design of the crashed alien ship, I must say, which is reminiscent of the Klendathu warrior bugs from the Starship Troopers movie. Our first clear look at the half-buried ship also reminded me of issue 2 of “Planetary” with its Godzilla movie references.
This is a classic Doctor Who setup. We have a disparate group, each with their own political or social agenda, an alien mystery, assorted military types butting heads and the Doctor and Ace slap bang in the middle of it, trying to make sense of it all. While the intro to this issue does reference previous adventures, no previous knowledge of the Seventh Doctor’s adventures is required, making this a good entry point to get stuck back in.
It’s a real pleasure to see more of the Seventh Doctor and Ace, and I’ll be looking forward to issue 2.
Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1 is now available from Titan Comics.