Comics The DWM strip made the change to colour superbly well, still able to provide moody imagery when required but also allowing for bright technicolour leading to a change in the shading of the Doctor's jacket from green to blue (which seemed like a huge decision which just shows how conservative the Eighth Doctor era was) and real expression in Izzy/Destrii's gills. This graphic novel also includes the short piece Character Assassination, drawn for a special issue about the Master but since it's about the Delgado model I'm saving that for when I finally try and catch up on my Third Doctor backlog. Yes, I'm the kind of fan who has piles of stories for particular incarnations unread or unheard.
Of everything there is to focus on in the story (the Doctor’s new jacket, Izzy’s new body), I’m slightly obsessed with the TARDIS interior. Although the general look is similar to the TV Movie, the focus is on a library which is I think how it's portrayed in the novels and is much the case in the tv series. There’s also that massively scenic element of opening up the ceiling to reveal the exterior view something which must have been considered for television too but perhaps would never quite look right. Plus there’s the fairy tale element of having the door acting as a portal into another world and has that quality from both directions. It’s a moment which tends to be cut from the strips for reasons of brevity, and sometimes, as here, it’s sadly missed.
Having Izzy change species is really bold storytelling and for the first time in the comics, the story arc is much more about character than story. The Doctor’s big speech about changing shape is just how you would expect him to try to deal with the situation but of course he’s dead wrong and Izzy throws it back at him just as she should. She’s not just isolated from her body now, she’s isolated from her entire life and doesn’t even know how her body reacts to anything, even how to breath. The scenes were she attempts to regain some of her identity by wearing the clothes she originally wore when she joined the TARDIS are meant to seem hopeful, but really they’re chilling. At this point we’re meant to believe Destrii isn’t returning with her real body but even with hindsight, this is extremely effective.
The Way of the Flesh
Four years before The Unquiet Dead, here’s a surprise celebrity historical which also backgrounds mortality albeit in a way which is utilised in a way which is closer to Army of Ghosts in terms of how it effects the local population. In keeping with the television series, we have the idea of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera with just enough accuracy for the purposes of the story, the former, thanks to her own condition, a way helping Izzy come to terms with her predicament ready for the next story in which it becomes vitally important. Reading this reminds me to watch the two biopics again at some point, Frida and The Cradle Will Rock, though it’s Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina’s voices from the former which spoke the dialogue in my head when reading this rather than Corina Katt Ayala and Ruben Blades from the latter.
Children of the Revolution
The strip that’s famous enough to inspire a merchandising gift set though kids won’t really be able to do a re-enactment until the inevitable waterproof Kroll hand puppet emerges. Of all these strips, barring the Izzy the Fish business, this is one of the few of these strips that could be filmed as is on television give or take a few budgetary trims. The idea of good Daleks has of course been visited a few times since, notably Into The Dalek, but also in Marjorie Blackman’s novella The Ripple Effect. Unlike pretty much every other occasion, the Doctor doesn’t immediately assume it’s a ruse and doesn’t attempt to reveal their “true” colours ala Victory of the Daleks. The notion of Daleks as religious beings would also later be developed in the Russell T Davies era as well as the notion of the Doctor as “saviour”.
Me and My Shadow
Another “Dalek Cutaway” this time to explain to potential new readers who Fey Truscott-Sade is to new readers as well as explaining to old ones why she hasn’t killed Hitler yet or some such. We’re told and we’ve seen in various narratives that the Time Lords aren’t the only beings in the Whoniverse with access to the technology. Although stories have been told about them and others manipulating history (see the Databank) even in Let's Kill Hitler there’s not much prospect of it. In the final exchange between Fey and Threshold, the latter reminds the former that Adolf is part of a nexus in history which is why she can’t go vigilante on him. But it’s interesting that we’ve never had a story about the Doctor saving Hitler as a young man from some other freelancer in order to save future history.
For all my griping about Capaldi’s callousness last year, the Eighth Doctor, largely due to his multi-media development across many years, could be pretty acerbic himself especially when his friends were in danger. Even knowing whom it’s directed it and why, when he says, “Wake up, Destrii. I care about keeping Izzy’s body intact, the girl currently wearing is can rot” it feels especially dark, especially since John Ross’s artwork magnifies the lines on his face and then cuts to a close-up of her finally appreciating the magnitude of what she’s done. The story ends on a line which would become famous in the Eleventh Doctor era, the sentiment magpied for The Hungry Earth. The monsters are scared of him.
Bye then Izzy. Something, now Sinclair’s departure is one of the most heartfelt in the show’s history not and least and also because of the reveal that she’s the first LGBT assistant in the show’s history. In the notes, writer Scott Grey explains that this had been decided right at the start as part of the development of the character but hadn’t really been worked into any of the stories because, as I suspect, how could you do that in the DWM strip without it seeming crass and exploitative? It’s only in her concluding chapter that it begins to make sense and her final kiss with Fey a poignant and logical conclusion to the narrative. Russell T Davies apparently contacted them with his admiration and quite right too. It’s an occasion when Who's comics demonstrate their ability to be as moving as any other artform.