By Andrew Cartmel, Christopher Jones, Marco Lesko, Ben Aaronovitch, Richard Dinnick & Jessica Martin
The brand new Seventh Doctor mini-series gets the readers stuck into a three part arc entitled Operation Volcano, written by Andrew Cartmel with art by Christopher Jones and colours by Marco Lesko. It’s an intriguing set-up that wastes no time in getting stuck into the thick of things, featuring the return of fan-favourite companion Ace and The Doctor, joined by Gilmore, an officer of the Royal Air Force whose no-nonsense, by-the-book approach directly contrasts with The Doctor’s eccentric oddities.
For fans of Sylvester McCoy‘s Doctor, it barely feels like a matter of pages before you’re back with his character. The book splits up the timeline, cutting back and forth between the 1960s and 2029, with the same spaceship linking the two threads together. It’s an interesting mystery that adopts a slower-pace than the normal fast-paced adventures of the more recent Doctors. Andrew Cartmel brings experience to the table as a former script editor of Doctor Who from 1987 to 1989, and if that wasn’t enough, Ben Aaronovitch steps in as the executive producer. The whole team involved with The Seventh Doctor are veterans of the universe to a certain extent, with Christopher Jones having worked on the Third Doctor whilst Marco Lesko having worked on the Ninth. It’s a fascinating mix of talent that has the potential to deliver a must-read mini-series, and based off this excellent start, readers should be in for a real treat.
The inclusion of the Counter Measures characters represent an interesting addition to the cast and provide a further link between the comics and the Big Finish Universe. There are plenty of elements to be found here to make this a must read for any Doctor Who fan, even if you haven’t seen anything by the Seventh Doctor before, there’s enough on display for readers to find themselves right at home.
Jones and Lesko make for a perfect match. Jones manages to capture the essence of the Seventh Doctor and what makes him tick really well. The emotions of the characters play an important part in making the new characters feel right at home in the series, and the split between the focus on the characters and the set-pieces is handled really well. Both Jones and Lesko manage to evoke the feel of the classic series while keeping the style updated for the modern series, with the tone feeling similar to say, an adventure with the Eleventh Doctor, with the dynamic between Seven and Ace being not unlike the one between Eleven and Amy.
Operation Volcano may not be a sequel to Cartmel and Aaronovitch’s fan-favourite 30 year old story Remembrance of the Daleks, but it captures the magic of the Seventh Doctor very well. There’s virtually nothing here that feels odd or out of place, even the backup story by Richard Dinnick, Charlie Kirchoff & Jessica Martin feels right at home in the Doctor Who universe, not just because of the history of the talent involved in the making of the script. Martin herself is a Doctor Who veteran actor having appeared with The Doctor and Ace in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. For those wondering what her character Mags did next, you won’t be disappointed as Hill of Beans finds a way to keep you in the loop with storytelling that matches the quality of the main script. Martin’s artwork is good too, even if itself is different again from the style of Jones and Lesco’s that proceeded it.