Image Credit: Doctor Who Magazine (Fair Use)
Image Description: The cover of Monstrous Beauty #1
By John Salway
Name: Monstrous Beauty #1
Type: Comic Book
Price: £9.99 (with Doctor Who Magazine #556)
Current TLV investment: £65.23
Our next piece of the Time Lord Victorious puzzle comes to us from Doctor Who Magazine (a delightful periodical in its own right), where the multimedia saga is taking over the comic strip for three issues. The continuing adventures of the Thirteenth Doctor and her fam have been interrupted to bring us the Ninth Doctor and Rose’s trip into the Dark Times, where vampiric enemies await…
Rather wonderfully, this first instalment comes as its own separate supplement with a beautiful full front cover. It lends a certain prestige and ‘event’ feel that really sells the notion that this story is something special – I hope the second and third parts will receive the same quality treatment.
Just from that cover, it’s clear that Monstrous Beauty lives up to the latter part of its name, with a dynamic, high contrast art style that really grabs the eye, and forms an interesting contrast with Titan’s Defender of the Daleks, which has a more realistic approach. Personally, I find the artwork here more effective, as I think it both lends more energy to action scenes and conveys character emotion with greater clarity, but this is a very subjective point.
The narrative structure of the two comics is also very different – while Defender of the Daleks took its time to get to the point, despite a generous page count, Monstrous Beauty is pretty much a thrill ride from the start, bringing us an intriguing setting, the surprising appearance of a Doctor Who celebrity, and then a full-scale battle scene. Ultimately, I felt that a lot more of value had been depicted here, despite this having less than half the length of the Titan story.
Excitingly, the authors have gone beyond the Great Vampires we know of from State of Decay and devised an entire Vampire Alliance, allowing the story to introduce new threats as well as more traditional vampiric imagery. A particular highlight are the Cucurbites depicted on the cover, living spaceships with thick, teeth-tipped tentacles that drain victims dry, a ghoulish idea reminiscent of The War of the Worlds. But as this is a comic for all ages, you needn’t worry about guts and gore – there’s not a drop of blood in sight!
If I had one major criticism of this first issue, it would be that companion Rose is given little agency throughout. First, she’s following after the Doctor, asking all the expositional questions we need answers to, and then (sigh) she’s being kidnapped and made to wear the virginal white dress you can see on the main Time Lord Victorious artwork. But the authors have managed to capture her personality and strong voice very well – while she may be fulfilling the plot role of a “damsel in distress”, she certainly isn’t behaving like one! And there should be plenty of time for this to be rectified in the remaining two issues.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first issue of Monstrous Beauty and look forward eagerly to the remaining two instalments. While it’s perhaps unfair to pit it against Defender of the Daleks as closely as I have done, the proximity of their releases makes it difficult not to, and thus far, Monstrous Beauty looks set to come out on top.