Arena of Fear collected trade paper back © 2017 Titan Comics

Guest Review: Doctor Who and the Arena of Fear

Guest Writer: Tim Myers

Eleonora Carlini, Elena Casagrande, and Iolanda Zanfardino -Artists
Simone De Mes and Luca Marescas -Art assists
Nick Abadzis-Writer
Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt-Lettering

 

An aura of anticipation emanates from this “assignment.” Doctor Who has been around since 1963! This comic covers 128 pages and leads us from one adventure into the next. Talk about longevity, having spread to encompass multiple television series, various films, and print literature for over 50 years, the Doctor has thrilled old and young alike with his brand of nonviolent and always humorous adventures through time and space. There is no comparison when it comes to this, other than the numerous spinoffs through the years like The Sarah Jane Chronicles, Torchwood (the series and the movie), and the series of graphic novels and comic books. Doctor Who has one of the biggest and longest surviving fandoms in the history, boasting fans on several continents and spanning multiple generations. Fans are known colloquially as Whovians and they make up a surprisingly numerous part of the population of the world. The Doctor looks human, but he is not. He is an alien from the planet Gallifrey. He is extremely longevous, at over 900 years old. With him are his companions, more or less human: Gabby Gonzales—his young adult traveling companion from 20th century Earth, Cindy Wu—Gabby’s best friend, Captain Jack Harkness—another human but from the future, another young adult human named Erik, and Muthmunna—a Neanderthal medicine woman. And that’s how our story starts, with memory loss: none of them know each other or their own names, let alone what they’re doing in this strange land.

A problem jumps out immediately: black lettering on an almost black background. A big problem if it continues throughout the book, but it only occurs rarely, and only during sequences of inner monologue by Gabby. The only time it is a problem is when it is set against a dark background; they aren’t speech bubbles exactly, but a clear window with no fixed background.

Arena of Fear single issue cover © 2017 Titan Comics

Arena of Fear single issue cover © 2017 Titan Comics

The first adventure finds Gabby, Cindy, Jack, and Erik in an unfamiliar land with their memories missing. As they meet more companions, they journey through this land trying to find a way back to Earth and trying to regain their memories. They soon come across a mysterious wise man (the Doctor) that they align with to combat Mr. Ebonite, the interstellar arms dealer who controls the Arena of Fear. Their memories slowly return and they realize they have been unwillingly caught up in a competition of sorts. They need to find a way out after their work to defeat Mr. Ebonite. The second adventure takes place entirely on board the Tardis and isn’t as full of other adventurers. Only Gabby and Cindy accompany the Doctor during this chapter, but it is far from lonely!

With stunning artwork by the team of Eleonora Carlini, Elena Casagrande, and Iolanda Zanfardino, with Simone De Mes and Luca Marescas’ assistance, and lettering by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt, this magazine is astounding! The story written by Nick Abadzis, with special consultation from BBC, Stephen Moffat, and the entire team behind the television series, this helps to fills in some of what the Doctor is doing between broadcast episodes. We commonly begin episodes of Doctor Who with the Doctor and his companions completing some adventure or another, but we never see or hear much about these adventures. No more! This series by that fantastic British treasure, Titan Publications, fills in a large part of the Doctor’s timeline with a multitude of his adventures we have only heard referenced on television in rare episodes.

Doctor Who is generally appropriate for all ages, from the youngest (although some scenes are scary for younger viewers) to the oldest. It can spur a child’s creativity and bring excitement to the most lackluster existence. Overall, a 9/10 for this enterprise of bringing more of the Whovian universe to life and filling in what he does during periods television does not document.

Tim Myers is an adult student at Southern New Hampshire University’s online school working to update his writing skills. He has been an avid role-player for over 20 years and a fan of comics and graphic novels since he and his son started reading them together around four years ago.

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