Overview

Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery

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Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery

Credits

  • Words: Leah Moore & John Reppion
  • Art: Ben Templesmith
  • Inks: Ben Templesmith
  • Colors: Ben Templesmith
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Apr 17, 2009

On an alien world, will a voice from beyond the grave lead the Doctor to his death?

Comic book characters often pass from one writer’s hands to another’s with (sometimes dismaying) frequency. This can lead to wildly divergent takes on a character but it seems that this effect is worse with licensed characters – particularly those based on TV characters. There are so many ways a comic based on a TV series can miss the mark – the character "voices" go wrong, the plot does not quite match up, even the overall emotional "feel" can be off. Which is why when an author (or in this case authors) come along and hit every aspect with near 100% accuracy you just want to stand up and cheer. What is even more impressive is that writers Leah Moore and John Reppion manage to do all of this in one, single, self-contained story.

Happenstance lands the Doctor and Martha on an alien world – one the Doctor knows but by reputation only. On Grått the inhabitants experience no emotion and upon death they leave behind a portrait with a semi-living message behind. The images in the Whispering Gallery breathe expressions of pain and regret and when the Doctor finds a face here that he recognizes and hears the message left behind for him… well, our alien knight errant charges off to find out the truth. The people of Grått may experience no emotion but the Doctor is about to get reacquainted with fear…

Moore and Reppion seem to have an instinctive understanding of the characters and situations that always seem to make the best Doctor Who stories. An alien world, people subjugated in some way (whether by power mad leader, social conventions or something else entirely), and a threat that only the Doctor can handle. The writers put all these pieces together not only with ease and inventiveness but also with a lot of heart and emotion. This is a story that deals with emotion in every fiber – the color and range of emotions are explored as well as their value and power. In the process Moore and Reppion make the readers feel these emotions as well.

If there is any criticism to offer here it is that the character of companion Martha Jones is not given much to do. She rings true as an emotional touchstone in the story but her active role is a tad stereotypical – particularly for a Doctor Who companion.

The art for this story is provided by Ben Templesmith – of 30 Days of Night and Fell fame. While Templesmith always works in a visually interesting, spare style here he has been given the job of depicting characters based on a real actress and actor. As a result, in some panels the heads and faces of Martha and the Doctor take on an almost photo-realistic look which clashes a bit with the sketchier, slightly abstract bodies and backgrounds. The result is something that comes off as rather dream-like in a good way. An alien environment unfettered by the boundaries of TV budgets and special effects limitations is crafted out of pieces of dream and even nightmare and Templesmith also picks up on the emotional content here and colors the comic to reflect the changing moods from grief and depression to hope and joy.

If you are looking for something to fill the void now that the Doctor Who TV series is on quasi-hiatus then look no further; Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery is a story that could count among the best episodes of the TV series. Art, writing, plot and story structure are all close to perfect and that is something rare. Moore and Reppion bring adventure, oddity, alienness, and emotion enough to fill even the TARDIS’s nigh infinite interior.

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