December 1, 2008

Stranger (and Better) Than Fan Fiction

It's easy to play "what if?" - matching artists and writers to characters and franchises. It's also somewhat cool to read that a favorite writer - one who seems well fit to the material - has already handled it.

One of my favorite memories as a young comics/Who fan was perusing the art of Dave Gibbons when he worked for Doctor Who Monthly...and quite frankly, as my tastes matured, I had always wanted to see Grant Morrison take on the Time Lord. It seems a natural - Morrison's ability to dig within continuity and rethink key concepts, combined with the flexible format of Who, would make a great comic.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, thanks to IDW, whose Who books have been a mixed bag), we're presented with the two issue Grant Morrison's Doctor Who, which provide a less-than-ten-dollar gift for either Morrison or Who fans.

Granted, Morrison's tenure on Who Monthly was short - enough for a two-part story entitled "Changes" (a simple invader-in-the-TARDIS story featuring the Sixth Doctor, Peri, and the shape-changing Frobisher, choosing to take on the form of a penguin), a single story of "Culture Shock" with a solo Seventh Doctor...but the must-own issue is # 2, with the four part "The World Shapers". Even this early in his career, Morrison displays some of his best talents, taking the best of Who's continuity, giving it some sharp thinking, and providing a tale with pathos, drama, and...well, you simply have to read this issue. (It's so good, you wish that it were canon). But even issue 1's tales share the same near-hallucinogenic style that Morrison is known for, and are worth reading.

Most of the art chores are handled by John Ridgway, who provides a nice sense of balance to the more surreal goings on. (Bryan Hitch's art on "Culture Shock" is also pretty good). The only disappointing thing about these stories is....this is all there is in terms of Morrison's Who comics work, and it seems rather unfair that there will be no # 3.

But something that is extremely heartening, and is well worth considering - Hitch later did some of the productino design work for the new Doctor Who series in 2005 (including the new TARDIS set), and Morrison has recently expressed an interest in working on the series.

And if so, it would be stranger - and better - than fan fiction. If you're looking for a relatively inexpensive gift for a Doctor Who fan, both issues are good. If you're really strapped for cash, hunt down a copy of issue 2. You won't be disappointed.

Grant Morrison's Doctor Who # 1 - Recommended
Grant Morrison's Doctor Who # 2 - Very Highly Recommended

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