Image Credit: Doctor Who Magazine (Fair Use)
Image Description: The cover of Monstrous Beauty
By John Salway
Name: Monstrous Beauty #2
Type: Comic Strip
Price: £5.99 (with Doctor Who Magazine #557)
Current TLV investment: £120.91
The second part of DWM’s ongoing comic epic sees the Doctor escaping from his Gallifreyan ancestors so he can sneak aboard their vampiric enemies’ Coffin Ship, as well as track down the missing Rose, who was last seen at the mercy of three hungry sisters…
This middle instalment does a great job of maintaining the key strengths of the opener, providing stunning, bold artwork and thrilling forward momentum. The Doctor is always on the move, always in the thick of the action, and it makes for a great page-turner. This does mean, though, that the supporting characters are fairly broadly sketched, and rather disappointingly this issue writes out the most well-developed one of the bunch. But that is a minor quibble, given the pace of the thing!
As another minor point, while I appreciate the aesthetics of the detailed, gothic cathedral exterior of the vampires’ Coffin Ship, I had always sort of expected, from the name, that it might look like a coffin? A foolish expectation, I know. Otherwise, the artwork is a constant delight, whether it’s depicting the Doctor flushing his enemies out of a spaceship, or a factory floor full of vampire workers all hooked up to the same blood supply.
The characterisation of the Ninth Doctor is strong, with some real pathos as he brings some hope to a Gallifreyan, knowing that eventually he’ll destroy the species himself – as far as he knows. There’s another standout moment where the Doctor stands up for the slave workforce of the Vampire Alliance, pointing out that they don’t want to be in this war either!
In my review of the last issue, I was disappointed by the lack of a proactive role for Rose, and was hoping she’d get more to do in this second issue. Well, unfortunately, I got the opposite of my wish. She’s only on the last page! Again, her function is primarily to provide a moment of peril for the cliffhanger ending, albeit this time in a way that suggests an intriguing new direction for the final instalment. How bizarre that the only companion to feature in the Time Lord Victorious range is being used so sparingly!
Monstrous Beauty continues to be a strong strip, full of iconic images, but its laser-sharp focus on action and set pieces means that some aspects aren’t receiving the attention they require. Please please please can the final instalment finally give Rose the attention she deserves!