Story by: James Goss
Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Roberta Ingranata
Chronology Placement: Set after “Alternating Current”
This Graphic Novel collects the following stories:
- Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious # 1 – 2
Kicking off with the Tenth Doctor waking up in his TARDIS with a bout of amnesia, this chapter of Time Lord Victorious deals with the after-effects from the paradox seen in previous Titan Comics story-arc “Alternating Current”, which saw the Tenth & Thirteenth Doctors teaming up to defeat the Sea Devils and Skithra. At the conclusion of that story, the Tenth Doctor dropped an alternate timeline version of Rose Tyler off on a remote planet to fight injustice, shortly before his memories reconfigured and left him in his current state of confusion. It’s a nice way of tying up the loose ends from the previous timeline as well as tying into the overarching theme of paradoxes inherent to the Time Lord Victorious storyline. With the Tenth Doctor’s recent past left as a blank slate, this story is extremely accessible for new readers, yet provides some extra continuity for existing fans of the Titan Comics range.
As the title suggests, the Daleks make an appearance in this adventure – the first time the creatures have ever appeared in a Titan Comics publication, and artist Roberta Ingranata does a brilliant job at capturing them on the printed page. There’s a rigid sense of geometry and firm line work to her take on the pepper-pot monsters, which distinguishes them from the other characters on the page – particularly the gooey gelatinous Hond. The precise design of the Daleks reflects the unyielding, fascist personalities of the creatures themselves, and there is an unsettling elegance to the look of their casing units here that matches the visual impact they have on-screen. Equally impressive is the choice of font for the Dalek speech which, thanks to Richard Starkings, helps evoke the mechanised menace of Nicholas Briggs’ incomparable performance as the voice of the Daleks.
Brought before the Dalek Emperor, the Doctor is manipulated into working with the Dalek Prime Strategist to defeat the Hond – a race of aliens determined to wipe out all life, including their own. It isn’t the first time that the Doctor has adopted an uneasy alliance with the Daleks, but I found the “buddy cop” relationship that formed between the Tenth Doctor and the Dalek Prime Strategist to be quite unique and worthy of further exploration. The concept of a Machiavellian Dalek dedicated to coming up with military tactics and strategies is fantastic, and I like the idea of Daleks having some individual personalities to go alongside their job titles. The Prime Strategist also distinguishes itself from the other Daleks by continuing to use damaged and rusted casing, creating a unique visual design to correspond with his scheming personality.
The story by James Goss and Jody Houser is a glorious romp across Skaro, evoking memories of Dalek stories such as “The Daleks”, “Asylum of the Daleks” and “The Witch’s Familiar”. The Tenth Doctor’s vocal mannerisms are perfectly replicated in the dialogue thanks to Houser’s impeccable script and Roberta Ingranata brings David Tennant’s performance to life on the page effortlessly. Ingranata’s artwork remains utterly incredible, as always, but the appearance of the Daleks raises the bar even higher. Everything I love about Houser and Ingranata’s work on the Thirteenth Doctor series is on display here, but with an added “blockbuster feel” as it ties directly into the high-profile multimedia Time Lord Victorious event.
As with the majority of the other Time Lord Victorious content out there, “Defender of the Daleks” can be enjoyed as a standalone adventure or as part of the patchwork quilt of stories that make up the whole event. There is no real need for any prior knowledge of the event, and the story is relatively self-contained aside from a reference to the Eighth Doctor towards the end to tease his subsequent trilogy of Big Finish audios. In terms of placement, this story comes early on in the Tenth Doctor’s journey into the event, whereas the Daleks have already experienced the events of the Daleks! webseries.
“Defender of the Daleks” offers readers an intriguing new perspective on the Doctor / Dalek relationship and while the status quo is never too far away from view, there are some well-written moments between the Tenth Doctor and the Dalek Prime Strategist that really stand out. Extremely accessible to new readers despite the Time Lord Victorious banner, “Defender of the Daleks” feels like an anniversary episode of the television show, packing plenty of punch into the storyline and giving readers another opportunity to see the fan-favourite Tenth Doctor confront the Daleks. The Dalek Prime Strategist is a particular highlight and much like the Lone Cyberman seen in recent Doctor Who episodes, it adds a sense of individual flair to a familiar menace and I look forward to seeing the character resurface in future Time Lord Victorious stories.
Score – ★★★★ ½
Click here to see our other Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious reviews.