Book Review – Eighth Doctor Vol. 1 – A Matter of Life and Death

  • Title: A Matter of Life and Death
  • Author: George Mann
  • Artists: Emma Vieceli, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 8th Doctor
  • Characters: Eighth Doctor, Josephine “Josie” Day
  • Collection Date: 2016
  • Collected Issues: Issues # 1-5
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/22/2016

**spoiler alert** A Matter of Life and Death introduces a new collection of Doctor Who adventures to Titan Comics line of Doctor Who graphic novels, this time featuring the Eighth Doctor as played by Paul McGann in the TV Movie, the audio adventures by Big Finish, the BBC Eighth Doctor original novel series, and the televised short, “The Night of the Doctor”. This novel consists of related short stories.

The Doctor arrives at his “house” in Wales to retrieve a book. But he finds the house is occupied by an artist, Josephine “Josie” Day. He and Josie find the book he was looking for, along with a slip of paper in the handwriting of one of the Doctor’s other incarnations with a list of times and places. However, before he can do much about it, Josie’s paintings start to come to life and the figures – which resemble some of the Doctor’s foes – attack the local village. The Doctor and Josie stop the attack, with Josie using her art to create a painting of the Doctor and to rescue the village.

Next it’s off to outer space where the TARDIS brings the Doctor and Josie to a planetoid occupied by cat people – who are under attack by sentient crystals. Not only is the crystal bombardment causing damage and killing the cat people outright, but even a slight wound turns deadly as a cat person is turned into a crystal Spherion and Josie is wounded by a crystal almost immediately. The Doctor, however, brokers a peace between the two intelligent species – discovering that the Spherions didn’t realize that the Cat People were intelligent. The Spherions had also been attacked by a different species and their breeding planet destroyed – and they found the Cat People and their planet (and the series of escape planets the Cat People colonize) as perfect hosts for their seedlings. The Doctor gets the Spherions to realize what they are doing, then finds both species their own planets.

Next, it’s off to Victorian England in 1866, and a creepy Victorian magic show. There, the magician, Silversmith, astounds audiences by entering a mirror on one side of the stage, and emerging from it on the other. He also has audience members do the same thing. The Doctor and Josie notice there’s something strange about this, and the audience members do not seem the same after their experience. Silversmith is literally a mirror image and he sends partial images out to attack. The Doctor, with help from Josie, frees the originals and traps the mirror images back inside the mirror.

In 1932, the Doctor and Josie arrive at a Manor House for a party – but the party is attacked by branches and trees, and even the TARDIS is attacked by small imp-like beings called Nix. Josie and the Doctor guard the family’s young son – who tells him a family legend. The Doctor uses the legend to discover what is really going on and again nearly everyone is rescued.

In the last story, the Doctor and Josie head to a futuristic spa where the ultra-rich not only relax and rejuvenate – but acquire new, synthetic bodies. But when the bodies rise up, claiming their right to freedom – it looks like trouble. Again, the Doctor is able to avert disaster. Josie’s origins are explained, and although they return to the Doctor’s cottage in a Welsh village where he found Josie, the Doctor decides he will travel with Josie for awhile.

I enjoyed A Matter of Life and Death very much. It’s a happy, enjoyable story. The Doctor is able to rescue pretty much everyone. Josie is a fun companion – I love her bright blue hair, it’s striking on the page. I do think it’s odd that Titan is using the name “Josephine” as that’s been used for a companion before on Doctor Who (the Third Doctor’s companion, Josephine “Jo” Grant) but at least her nickname’s different. But the effect of the Doctor’s successes make the book very happy. It’s a light-hearted adventure story which makes a change from the darker-themed other books (that is, the 10th, 11th, and 12th Doctor series of graphic novels). I hope this line continues, as McGann’s Doctor is one of my favorites, and he’s perfectly suited to alternative media than TV. McGann’s Eighth Doctor has been successful in audio plays (voiced by McGann) for Big Finish and in books for BBC Books.

The art in this graphic novel is gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Again, I love Josie’s bright blue hair. The art has a very real look to it. There are also several full-page cover spreads in the issue that are simply gorgeous. I loved the art, it’s some of the best so far from Titan Comics in the Doctor Who line. There is also a miniature cover gallery at the end.

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