Image Credit: Doctor Who Magazine (Fair Use)
Image Description: The cover of Monstrous Beauty
By John Salway
Name: Monstrous Beauty #3
Type: Comic Strip
Price: £5.99 (as part of DWM)
Current TLV investment: £159.86
Hmm, I’m very torn on this. In my previous reviews I’ve praised the action focus and breakneck pace of Monstrous Beauty, which kept me highly engaged and allowed for some gorgeous visuals. While the same is true in this final issue, I think the lack of breathing space has finally taken its toll, with a lot of corners cut to fit in everything that needs to be wrapped up.
The treatment of Rose has been a problem from the start, and this instalment does nothing to change that. Starting the issue transformed into a frightful vampire form, she’s quickly knocked out of the action until the Doctor produces a cure, and then takes an unspecified amount of time to recover via time jump. What a waste of a beloved character! Overall, she barely features, spending the first issue getting kidnapped, disappearing for much of the second, and then only back to her usual self in this conclusion for the final page. If I was a cynical man, I’d say the only reason for this is her conspicuous absence in All Flesh Is Grass…
As for the vampires proper, after some argy-bargy in the Coffin Ship, the Doctor produces a laughably easy solution to the inequality in their species, literally from out of his pocket, to free the slave underclass from their tyrannical overlords. It sure is going to be a shame when the Gallifreyans hunt down and slaughter all of these newly-freed vampire slaves, but that’s an issue this comic isn’t too interested in.
Saying that, the Gallifreyan forces do make a re-appearance here, providing an unintended distraction that aids the Doctor. They also allow for a few more fannish continuity references, such as the debut of their spike-firing Bowships, and providing me with an inadvertent chuckle when they refer to themselves as ‘Space Lords’. But as they don’t really have any effect on the plot beyond this, I’m not sure this instalment really required their presence, though their space battle scenes do make for exciting artwork.
By the end, so many different plot threads have been quickly (and often, too conveniently) wrapped up that this final issue has felt like something of a box-ticking exercise, so I must admit to feeling a little deflated by the end. But the series as a whole has been an exciting ride, and an interesting counterpoint to the slower and more thoughtful Defender of the Daleks comic, so I’d happily recommend either story.
Finally, I just want to end my comic reviews with a few words in praise of the artwork and colouring, by John Ross and James Offredi respectively, which have never been short of exceptional. Every page has been full of life and dynamism, and the whole story is a real treat for the eyes. A real Monstrous Beauty indeed.