One thing that Cutaway Comics certainly know how to do is a good cliffhanger. At the end of Omega #2, it really looked like the end for Princess Malika of Minyos and her tiny band of rebels, after their vessel had been blown up by Oxirgi, and left them floating in the vacuum of space.
How do you write your way out of that one? Well, if Douglas Adams could find a way to do it which managed not to have his readers left feeling cheated, then Mark Griffiths – who wrote a play all about his literary hero – should hopefully be able to do just as good a job. Thankfully, the good news is Griffiths manages to stick the landing, and come up with an equally ingenious and creative solution to such a seemingly intractable problem.
Deft plotting has been a major hallmark of Griffiths’ work on this comic, and his excellent work continues with this latest issue. Considering that the title is Omega, Griffiths has done a great job in managing to keep the main villain of the piece in the background, with only fleeting glimpses throughout, and being able to create such a compelling story and cast of characters to carry you along, without you ever really being conscious – or minding – that Omega has scarcely appeared in his eponymous vehicle.
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The legendary John Ridgway’s artwork is perfectly suited to the grand space opera style of Griffiths’ tale, and enhanced by the masterful and effective colouring by Andrew Orton, a truly potent mix of rich, vibrant hues which really make the drawings come to life and jump off the page. The quality of the output by Cutaway is remarkable, especially considering they are still a relative newcomer to the British comics scene, and the real joy has been in seeing them exploring ever more diverse parts of non-BBC owned Doctor Who lore.
Given that Omega was one of the co-creations of writer Bob Baker, who famously went on to co-author a number of the Aardman Animations features starring Wallace & Gromit, it seems fitting that Cutaway has asked Baker to contribute to their growing range, and resurrected – literally, in fact – one of his characters from his time on Doctor Who: the fearsome Eldrad, the last survivor of the planet Kastria, despite having been sentenced to death by his own people.
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Having made his only appearance in 1976’s story ‘The Hand Of Fear’, Eldrad’s ossified hand was found in – of all places – an actual quarry, instead of one masquerading as supposedly being an alien landscape for a change. Eldrad’s disembodied hand was able to possess the Doctor’s companion Sarah Jane Smith, and caused her to take it to the nearby Nunton Power Complex, using radiation from the core to regenerate Eldrad into a female crystalline form initially, before later emerging as his true self after returning to Kastria.
With Eldrad having apparently met his final end, one would have to ask how he could feasibly make his return without it seeming like an awful cheat. Who better, then, than Baker to revisit Eldrad, and find a plausible way to bring the character back from seeming oblivion. This one-shot is a direct sequel to ‘The Hand Of Fear’, and brings back Professor Watson, the head of the Nunton Complex, as portrayed on screen by Glyn Houston.
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The artwork from Stephen B. Scott certainly does manage to capture Houston’s likeness, as well as recreating the look and feel of the Nunton Complex. Andrew Orton’s palate – which is fittingly more muted than his work as colourist on Omega – contrasts perfectly between the drab 1970s industrialness, and the vibrant explosions of colour as the sheer alienness of Eldrad’s presence makes itself known. Arachnophobes need to be aware that there are whole pages which are nothing but pure nightmare fuel.
Cutaway Comics always manage to go just that little further when it comes to giving value for money, and both of these comics come with a bonus disc full of special features when you order directly from them. Ranging from newly-recorded audio commentaries for Doctor Who stories and interviews, to video commentaries on the comics from members of the creative team, you can see just how much Cutaway loves its readers, and that love definitely deserves to be reciprocated so many times over.
Omega #3 and Eldrad Must Live! are out now from Cutaway Comics.