Guest Writer: Tim Myers
John and Carol Barrowman—creators
Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt—Lettering
What can make fan boys and girls alike squeal with delight? Maybe that lovable rogue from the Doctor Who universe known as Captain Jack Harkness can do it, after all guys and girls both fawn over him. From the moment that Captain Jack entered the scene in the Empty Child episode of Doctor Who, we have adored him. Since then the good Captain has appeared in many episodes and has even starred in a spinoff series known as Torchwood. In this series, John Barrowman reprises his role as Captain Jack Harkness. The difference is that now he is one of the stars.
Set in the Doctor Who universe, Torchwood takes us into the ongoing crusade to appropriate and reverse-engineer alien technology for the good of the British Empire, with their motto of “if it’s alien, it’s ours!” This is the graphic adaptation of the hit television show featured on BBC. With plenty of references to Doctor Who, this book definitely stays true to the television series. This novel reads just like an episode that aired from 2006 to 2011, keeping readers on the edge of their seats all throughout, whilst entertaining the more mature bibliophile with adult themed banter. John Barrowman and his sister, Carole, originate the series, with creative influence from Russel T. Davies, the executive producer of Doctor Who. Although the Doctor doesn’t use guns or violence, the Torchwood team has no such qualms about getting their hands dirty; in fact, they seem to be quite fond of it.
Another thing that the Torchwood team is fond of is gadgets. Whether it’s weaponry, their extraterrestrial transport, or one of their numerous other gizmos, we seldom see a member of the team without seeing one of these devices.
Pasquale Qualano and Antonio Fusio deliver the pictures as Marco Lesko colors, providing ample fuel for the imagination to fill in the blanks. The lettering is performed by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt, while the script is created by none other than the Barrowman duo. Titan Publishing Group brings all of this talent and more to bear with their offshoot, Titan Comics. They produce this, along with a multitude of other comics and graphic novels centering on the Doctor Who Universe, keeping the fandom alive since it was reborn in the 90’s.
The story opens with Captain Jack fending off some aliens and teleporting to the Ice Maiden. A group of partying teenagers is unfortunately caught up in the mayhem that seems to follow the Torchwood team everywhere they go. We meet more of the team, including the A.I. of the ship, a snarky android by the name of Shelley, who eventually locates Rona, the teenager inadvertently teleported aboard the ship. Shelly provides comedic quips and provocative comments throughout the novel, easily increasing the maturity rating. Move ahead a little bit and we see someone from Jack’s past has come to pay him a visit, bringing mayhem with them. It’s his former partner at the Time Agency, Captain John Hart, and he is upset with Jack over something that happened between them long ago.
As Captain Jack gathers his crew, a new threat emerges. While definitely outlandish, this is not that unlike the Torchwood general motif. This series thrives on action-packed sequences and invites readers to become emotionally invested. As a standalone novel it doesn’t perform, but to those familiar with the story arc, this novel, and indeed every other work in it, will leave readers starving for more.
A solid 8/10