Gods And Monsters: Book 1 – Omega & Sutekh / Book 2 – Faustine – Comic Review

When it comes to gods and monsters, Doctor Who has hardly been lacking in either throughout its 60 year history. When it comes to the former category, a panoply of higher beings has been featured, including one particular entity who may even have been the Devil himself. As for the latter, it was the first and most famed of all the show’s baddies – the Daleks – who actually secured its future only five weeks into its run. During Patrick Troughton’s time in the lead role, his tenure became known as the ‘Monster Era’, giving us the likes of the Yeti and Ice Warriors.

While some of these dastardly foes have perhaps been more memorable – and durable – than others, they have all added to the programme’s rich tapestry, leaving a treasure trove of villainy and evil unparalleled and unmatched by practically anything else in popular culture. Such a formidable rogues’ gallery is virtually crying out to be made use of, and the likes of Cutaway Comics have seen the huge potential in having all this rich, untapped mythology to draw upon. Hence their use of various creations featured in the series which happen to fall outside the BBC’s copyright.

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While the Venn diagram of Doctor Who fans and comic book readers may not be a perfect circle, there is certainly enough of an intersection to make such a venture worthwhile, giving us new adventures for old characters beyond the confines of the cathode-ray tube. Cutaway’s latest venture is a series of one-shots under the umbrella title of Gods And Monsters, which follows a number of characters from right across the confines of the Time Lord’s fictional universe, all leading up to a special crossover event in future issues. This new range has certainly got off to a flying start, with Book 1: Omega & Sutekh and Book 2: Faustine.

Omega has been already been featured in his very own title by Cutaway, so the imprint’s readers should already be very familiar with this bearded, bombastic take on the individual who gave the Time Lords the facility of time travel, and who – in this particular incarnation – bears a striking (and quite intentional) resemblance to Brian Blessed. Re-teaming the legendary artist John Ridgway with writer Mark Griffiths, in this tale we see Omega’s lonely existence of solitude trapped in a universe of anti-matter being shaken up by the arrival of a colony ship, the Eltralla, which has somehow found its way into his reality, and offers him a chance of escape.

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Paired up in the other half of this prestige edition 60-page title is Sutekh The Destroyer, who plagued the Doctor in the 1975 TV story ‘Pyramids Of Mars’, having been banished by 740 of his fellow higher beings to a perpetual existence of immobility on the Red Planet. Writer Ian Winterton mines Egyptian mythology to expand on Sutekh’s story, bringing in elements not seen on television, and giving this such a truly epic feel, showing the jackal-faced god leading the charge against the demon Azag. Such a grand canvas needs grand artwork to realise it, and Adrian Salmon is more than up to the task, delivering a sense of scale and awe.

Robert Browning told us that one’s reach should exceed their grasp, and Cutaway Comics certainly could never be accused of failing to have lofty ambitions. Just look at who they have managed to bag for Book 2: Faustine – one Steve Gallagher, a screenwriter and novelist who delivered us one of the most truly haunting and ethereal of Doctor Who stories, in 1981’s ‘Warriors’ Gate’. Revisiting the race he created for that story, Gallagher’s one-shot focuses on Faustine, a captured Tharil Princess who goes on the run with a human, and they end up in contemporary Manchester. This tale captures that mix of the mundane with the extraordinary as seen in Doctor Who, aided by some fabulous art from Martin Geraghty.

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With Cutaway Comics, you always get a sense of the creative team caring about not just quality, but also value for money, and in their best tradition, both of these releases come with DVDs simply awash with value added material. For the long-term followers of the Time Lord’s adventures in comic strip form, there is a chat with Dez Skinn, who first launched the official Doctor Who title for Marvel Comics all the way back in 1979. We also get interviews with the writers of Gods And Monsters, as well as episode commentaries for ‘Pyramids Of Mars’ and ‘Warriors’ Gate’ that feature team members from both sides of the camera.

The sheer joy of Cutaway Comics is that you don’t need to be a diehard Doctor Who aficionado in order to be able to follow and enjoy their publications, as they all work beautifully and perfectly in their own right. These opening two issues of the Gods And Monsters series show a level of care and attention which has sometimes been rather lacking in the parent show over the years, and this title most definitely uses continuity as a springboard, rather than as a straitjacket. You would be hard pressed to find a more vibrant, imaginative and inspired independent publisher of UK comics today.

Gods And Monsters: Book 1 – Omega & Sutekh  and Book 2 – Faustine are available now from Cutaway Comics.

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