Sunday, April 4, 2010

Doctor Who: The Widow's Curse

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Doctor Who: The Widow's Curse (Panini, 2009)

You remember how, in August of last year, I reviewed the previous volume in Panini's series of Doctor Who collections, and noted, with some skepticism, that it arrived costing about a third more than the solicited price? And how I wondered whether, when the next book showed up, they'd pull the same scummy stunt? Well, The Widow's Curse did come out towards the tail end of 2009, and it did cost $32 when it was solicited as a $25 book. Those guys are making it very difficult to justify letting them go without clearing my throat about their business practices.

The contents almost make up for the price hike. Ever since the TV series returned, the comic strip has been treading water, making the mistake of letting rotating teams of creators tackle the strip. That's not to say the individual stories are lacking - Ian Edginton and Adrian Salmon contribute a cracking little three-parter, and Jonathan Morris and Rob Davis give the terrific character of Donna Noble, one of my all-time favorite Who companions, a send-off so terrific in "The Time of My Life" that it's almost worth the cover price alone.

However, the feature would be so vastly improved by letting a single team loose on it. Panini's earlier collections prove this repeatedly, earlier allowing the likes of Steve Parkhouse and Scott Gray the chance to develop storylines and revisit themes. As individual comic stories go, most of these are quite entertaining, but reading them like this, you can never escape the knowledge that they could have been so much better under a single writer's tenure. Happily, the 21 episodes that followed these story - the tales featuring comic-only companion Majenta and due for release in their own collection later this year - were all scripted by Dan McDaid and are said to be much more successful and consistent. I'm looking forward to them - let's just get the price right, Panini! At $32, it's recommended with reservations. At $25, it's about right.

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