‘When the Doctor and his companions are drawn to a seemingly empty transport vessel in deep space, they’re pulled into an impossible conflict – between the robotic Heavenly Host… and the Weeping Angels!’
Doctor Who has a huge history to draw upon, with hundreds of hours of adventures on screen, dozens of books and comics, all spanning more than 50 years. As such, whenever a story utilises characters or monsters from the past things can feel special, especially when it combines elements from multiple stories. ‘A Confusion of Angels’ does this with the new series history, mixing together Weeping Angels, Heavenly Host, Judoon, Slitheen, and Missy into one huge adventure.
The premise for the story is simple enough, the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole have recently left Earth to gather supplies to fix the vault containing Missy, but get sidetracked on their way back when they discover a cargo ship adrift in space. The trio soon discover that something terrible has happened on the ship: the power is being drained, communications are off-line, and members of the crew have gone missing.
The story manages to keep a sense of mystery going for quite a while in these early pages, and even performs some sleight-of-hand trickery for those who aren’t aware that the story features Weeping Angels. With Bill sneaking through the bowels of the cargo ship alone we see glimpses of a creepy-looking angel-like figure stalking her. Knowing Doctor Who and its monsters you immediately think Weeping Angel, but are then surprised to discover Heavenly Host instead. You’re led to believe that not only are these angelic robots the culprits, but are what we saw stalking Bill. When the Weeping Angels do finally appear it’s a shock because the book bluffed the reader into believing that they weren’t there.
It’s a clever little trick to pull, and shows that writer Richard Dinnick shouldn’t be trusted to play fair; something that becomes more apparent when you discover that the mysterious stowaway in the creepy clown mask is another version of the Doctor. Dinnick messes with the reader more than once, and it makes the story more enjoyable and complex than it could have been in another writer’s hands.
‘A Confusion of Angels’ brings back other story elements though, as the ship’s distress call gets answered by a squad of Judoon, led by a special investigator, Margaret Slitheen. Picking up a loose thread left over from Eccleston’s series, we finally get to see what happened to Margaret after she was regressed to an egg and allowed to live her life over with a good family. I think that Dinnick wanted to convey some kind of possibility that she may have still been untrustworthy, as it is brought up more than once, but she never really does anything that would be considered questionable.
The book’s two artists, Francesco Manna and Pasquale Qualano, complement each other wonderfully, and fit the story well. They both manage to capture the likenesses of all of the characters well, which means that returning characters like Margaret are instantly recognisable without need of an explanation of who they’re supposed to be. They also bring some great new designs of their own to the story, with the crew of the cargo ship being unique and wonderful creations.
Mixing together elements from previous stories, bringing back the new series’ most iconic new monster, and adding more depth and background to the Series 10 plot of Missy’s reformation, ‘A Confusion of Angels’ throws a lot at the readers, but doesn’t slow down in its pacing to let you catch your breath. It’s a fast paced fight for survival against a terrifying enemy that is sure to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.