Doctor Who: Missy: The Master Plan

They say that a hero is only as good as their villain. Would Sherlock Holmes be as impressive without a Professor Moriarty to test him? Would Superman be as super without a Lex Luthor? Absolutely not! This belief is what drives The Master, the twisted counterpart of The Doctor, who is driven to conquer everything The Doctor strives to protect.

The Master’s current incarnation and first female incarnation, who goes by the nickname Missy (short for Mistress) is neck-deep in another scheme, seeking a Time Lord artifact known as the Key to Time. And she is not working alone, having gone back in time to enlist the help of an unexpected ally—the first incarnation of The Master to battle The Doctor on Earth. There is, however, the slight complication that The Master is currently in an ultra-secure prison, leading Missy to pose as the newest incarnation of The Doctor, come to check up on her greatest enemy. Because Missy knows how untrustworthy her past self is and isn’t about to give away the game just yet by needlessly risking a paradox. Yet.

Doctor Who: Missy: The Master Plan is another brilliant Doctor Who story from Jody Houser, who has been wowing Doctor Who fans with her Thirteenth Doctor comics, as well as specials like Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious, for some time now. There are two reasons why Houser is rightly praised as a Doctor Who writer. First, Houser has a tremendous grasp of the characters, and fans of the show are sure to hear the velvet purr of Michelle Gomez and the distinctive voice of Roger Delgado as they read Missy and The Master’s dialogue. Second, despite showing a clear knowledge of the show’s history and the characters, Houser makes her stories accessible to newcomers, so fans of the current Doctor Who series, who might never have seen a classic Third Doctor story, will not need to worry about becoming lost in the narrative.

Roberta Ingranata once again proves herself the perfect partner in crime to Jody Houser. Best known for her work on Witchblade, Ingranata has established herself as one of the premiere Doctor Who artists ever since Titan Comics picked up the license several years ago. The likenesses of the actors from the show are captured perfectly, yet show none of the stiffness that is sometimes seen in comic book adaptations of a popular television show. The expressions of the characters are natural and the action flows smoothly from panel to panel in a way that is frankly gorgeous.

This volume is rated 12+ and I consider that to be a fair and accurate rating. There is nothing in this book that would be considered objectionable for teenage audiences, and I dare say some younger children could probably handle the language and the content. There is no sex, nudity, harsh language, or gory violence. There is a fair bit of action, however, with some daring sword fights, but nobody dies, and no bloodshed is depicted. I highly recommend this volume to all fans of Doctor Who and anyone who might be looking for an entry into the comics based on the show, if not the show itself.

Doctor Who: Missy: The Master Plan
By Jody Houser
Art by Roberta Ingranata
Titan, 2021
ISBN: 9781787736450

Publisher Age Rating: 12+
Related media:  TV to Comic

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)
Character Representation:  Ambiguous Mental Illness

Klaus: The Life and Times of Santa Claus

Klaus: The Life and Times of Santa Claus collects two issues: Klaus and the Crying Snowman #1 and Klaus and the Life and Times of Joe Christmas #1.

In the first issue, a self-aware snowman helps Klaus, Yule Goat, and Father Frost beat some aliens who were attempting to steal the heat of the sun? Something about a time clock and Norse gods, I guess.

This holiday themed comic collection promises heartwarming stories but delivers a chaotic compendium of rehashed plots including the absentee dad-turned snowman and averting Ragnarok.

Our story begins when the self-aware snowman begins to wonder his purpose when Klaus shows up promising him a gift. More hilarity ensues when tree monsters show up and Klaus is nearly defeated until Yule-Goat and Father Frost arrive from the Moon to help.

Tree monsters show up out of nowhere and Klaus is nearly defeated until Yule-Goat and Father Frost arrive from the Moon to help. The chaotic plot descends into more nonsense covering a lunar civil war and fear of the cosmic clock (time?) stopping.

The trio lapse into memory talking about when the Nightborn, aliens from outside the galaxy, showed up in 586 CE to battle the Norse gods for Ragnarok and the gods lost. (Isn’t the worlds supposed to end when Ragarok happens? The world has not ended.) What’s interesting about this plot point is that a great climatic shift did happen in the mid-500s CE when a volcano in South America erupted so intensely that the sun, moon, and stars were literally withheld from view. Because of this, it is thought at the time that the Vikings started to believe that Ragarok had happened and the startling idea that perhaps their gods were actually mortal after all.

Klaus and Sam decide go to Titan where they battle the Nightborn. Klaus tells Sam the Snowman that the temperature of Titan’s poles is around -290F so since Sam thrives in coldness, he’ll be super smart. He fails to mention how the citizens of Animatropolis survives.

Klaus lets loose an army of a thousand bagpipes that were created to protect the Cosmic Clock here at Animatropolis against the Nightborn. Then flames appear to be spreading after Sam the Snowman takes down Hyrm, the ruler of the Nightborn. Flames on Titan when it is hundred degrees below zero weather at the poles.The four heroes: Sam the Snowman, Klaus, Father Frost, and Yule the Goat broker peace between everyone. When they return to Sam’s house, we learn he was not a very nice man. It took his near death as a snowman, and team work to save Earth from the Nighborn for Sam to get it. There is more to life then himself. He is then REBORN a changed man as the snowman melts.

A plot where Sam finally understands the meaning of life, trust and honesty would have been fine. I think Grant Morrison made a bet with himself to see how much he could throw against wall content wise and see what would stick. Apparently everything stuck.

Our imaginations lead us to believe that so much is possible and could be possible like faster than light sleds and killer trees but in the hands of Morrison, it’s just a hot mess of convoluted tales that were lazily written with half-baked ideas.

The second half, Life and Times of Joe Christmas #1, is a sweet wordless tale told backwards and in widescreen format of the character of what we now accept as the modern version of Santa Claus. Dan Mora’s work is exquisite. His art is so detailed in both halves of the book where even the fairy lights in the boughs of pine trees look as if they are twinkling. Mora pays special attention to those kinds of details which makes his art a joy to look at. His artwork makes this book somewhat tolerable. I would love to see if Dan Mora also has the chops as a writer because I would snap his books up quickly.

In short, skip this book unless you’re a collector of everything Grant Morrison or Dan Mora.Have well circulating copies of other Klaus graphic novels.

Klaus: The Life and Times of Santa Claus
By Grant Morrison
Art by Dan Mora
BOOM! Studios, 2020
ISBN: 9781684156429
Publisher Age Rating: 13-18

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)

Blade Runner: Origins

Blade Runner OriginsThe year is 2009 and robot evolution has just entered the Nexus phase, with robots that can pass for human becoming more and more commonplace on Earth. The Tyrell Corporation, manufacturers of the Nexus 4, are justly proud of their achievements and have money and power aplenty. Money and power enough, at least, to make the LAPD stand at attention when they ask for a detective to come in and fast-track an investigation into the death of one of their scientists, confirming their belief that she committed suicide.

Enter Cal Moreau, one of the few honest cops left in a dishonest world, who joined the LAPD to try and make the slum he grew up in a safer place. Already on the outs with his bosses, Moreau is an ideal patsy for a job that could quickly send heads rolling. Unfortunately, there are too many details that don’t add up: a brother who insists there is no way his sister would ever kill herself, a lab assistant who knows more than she is saying, and indications that the Tyrell Corporation’s next model, the Nexus 5, may have escaped and started turning upon the humans that created it.

Titan Comics’ exploration and expansion of the world of Blade Runner continues, this time taking a trip into the past and exploring the world before robots became illegal on Earth and the first Blade Runners began hunting Replicants hiding among the human population. This prequel series perfectly captures the aesthetic of the original films in both its story and its artwork.

Cal Moreau is an immediately strong protagonist, cut from the same hard-boiled cloth as Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard. He is notable for having a sick sister in a coma, whom he visits and reads to on a regular basis. It is hinted that he’s gay, as he frequents a bar run by a drag performer named Divina, who chases away a woman who flirts with Cal, saying that she couldn’t “let the poor girl go on thinking you have time for her. Or money.” Despite this, Cal doesn’t show much interest in men or women. Instead, he’s married to his work and the duty he feels he has to save lives, having joined the force after serving in the military, and still suffering PTSD flashbacks from his time in space.

The artwork by Fernando Dagnino suits the film noir feel of the story and of the original films, with quite heavy inks. The colors by Marco Lesko are also duller than one might expect given the vibrant neon hues employed throughout the movies. Despite this, every panel of this book feels true to the core aesthetic of Blade Runner. This is sure to please fans of the original movie and purists like myself, who might doubt the ability of a comic book to match the tone of the film.

Blade Runner: Origins is rated 15+ for Older Teens and I feel that is a fair rating, if a bit conservative. The action of this book is intense, but there is surprisingly little bloodshed. There are some disturbing images and several on-page deaths, but most of what is seen would probably make the cut for a Teen-rated manga. There is also little sexual content, apart from one scene with implied nudity where everything is concealed in the shadows.

Blade Runner: Origins
By K Perkins, Mellow Brown, Mike Johnson, Michael Green
Art by Fernando Dagnino
Titan, 2021
ISBN: 9781787735873

Publisher Age Rating: 15+
Related media:  Movie to Comic

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Character Representation: African-American, Gay,  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Knights of Heliopolis

Knights of Heliopolis by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Deep within the mountains of northern Spain lies a hidden temple. Here, the secret order known as the Knights of Heliopolis labor to shepherd the destiny of humanity and guide them towards enlightenment. As selective as they are secretive, the Knights of Heliopolis make up for their lack of numbers in divine power, having mastered true and holy alchemy and acquired the secret of long life.

Set in an alternate 18th century, the story opens as the ten Knights of Heliopolis on Earth are preparing to induct a new member to their order, a youth known to them only as Seventeen. After Seventeen completes the final trial to secure their place among them, Seventeen’s master, Fulcanelli, reveals the secrets that made it necessary for him to hide Seventeen’s identity and origins from the rest of the Knights. For Seventeen is Louis XVII, the secret child of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI of France!

This is a matter of great import, as the Knights of Heliopolis’s gifts include the power of prophecy. Their dogma speaks of the coming need for a warrior who must balance both the masculine and feminine aspects of themselves—along with body and soul—to save the world from the Knights’ greatest mistake, a would-be emperor now known as Napoleon, who has corrupted their guidance and teachings in a bid to make himself into an immortal god-king that will rule the Earth forever! In addition to their royal lineage, Seventeen is also of great interest due to being intersex (within the text referred to by the historical term “hermaphrodite”).

The Knights of Heliopolis is an interesting graphic novel that is hard to pin down into a single genre. It is a work of alternative history and includes several historical figures among its cast, yet it is far more fanciful than most alternate history works. Yet those fantastic elements and the Alchemy employed by the Knights are based on real-world mystic traditions. It also draws upon several literary works, most notably The Man in the Iron Mask. Throw in a little bit of science-fiction in the fourth and final chapter (as the Knights are revealed to have acquired their knowledge from ancient aliens) and you have a book whose setting is both familiar in many respects yet uniquely its own beast.

The script by Alejandro Jodorowsky is more concerned with mythology than character development. The Knights do not get much in the way of personality apart from Louis XVII. Even then, their chief conflict centers around their belief that they are destined to destroy Napoleon yet love him as a fellow mutant manipulated by fate. Thankfully, the story is engaging, and the ideas put forth intriguing.

The artwork by Belgian artist Jérémy is simply stunning. Intricately detailed and beautifully colored, Jérémy does a fantastic job of depicting the various period costumes as the story progresses from the French Revolution through World War II. The action sequences are well-blocked and even the static conversations seem eternally active.

Knights of Heliopolis is rated for audiences 17+ and that is a fair rating. The book is full of sex and violence and does not shy away from the gritty details of both. There is full frontal nudity of men and women, several sexual assaults and severely grisly deaths and dissections. This book is not for children or the faint of heart, but it is memorable and well worth reading if you are a fan of alternative history tales.

Knights of Heliopolis 
By Alejandro Jodorowsky
Art by Jérémy
Titan Comics, 2021
ISBN: 9781787736085
Publisher Age Rating: 17+

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Creator Representation: Belgian, Chilean, French
Character Representation: French, Bisexual, Intersex

Blade Runner 2029 Vol. 1: Reunion

The year is 2029. Twelve years ago, Aahna “Ash” Ashina was the LAPD’s greatest Blade Runner – one of the elite police detectives tasked with hunting down and killing any Replicant running loose on Earth. Yet Ash had a secret that would destroy her career were it discovered by her fellow cops; she was dependent on a rechargeable spinal implant to walk.

Ten years ago, Ash left the force and went on the run, acting as the protector and foster mother of a runaway girl, to honor the dying request of the Replicant clone of the girl’s biological mother.

Three years ago, Ash returned to a radically different Earth, where the manufacture of Replicants was outlawed after an attack on the Tyrell Corporation erased every record of every existing Replicant. Naturally this did nothing to stop the rich and powerful from ordering their own custom grown Replicant “servants” on the black market.

Two years ago, Ash rejoined the LAPD and the Blade Runners, joining the hunt for the last of the Nexus 8 Replicant models: the most human Replicants ever made. But Ash had a secret beyond her artificial spine. She had become part of the Replicant Underground, working to free the new Replicants who are born as both fugitives and slaves on Earth.

Now, Ash is relatively content, having found love with the Nexus 8 Replicant Freysa Sadeghpour. But a ghost from the past has thrown Ash’s new life into sharp relief; a ghost called Yotun, who is the only Replicant to ever escape Ash’s clutches in her old life and the leader of a Replicant terrorist cell out for revenge on the idle rich responsible for the creation of the latest Nexus 8 Replicants.

Fans of the Blade Runner franchise hoping for more of the same after Titan Comics’ excellent Blade Runner 2019 series will greatly enjoy this first volume of Blade Runner 2029. Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Andres Guinaldo, the creators on the first comic series centered around Ash’s adventures, have all returned for this second series and their respective contributions are as fine as ever. Green, who co-wrote the screenplay for Blade Runner 2049, continues to expand upon the setting of the original film, while slowly building up the elements he introduced in the sequel. Ana’s lover Freysa Sadeghpour, for instance, was a character in Blade Runner 2049.

Andres Guinaldo continues to capture the essence of the neo-Noir setting of Blade Runner. There is grit and grime aplenty, as befits the mean streets of Los Angeles. Yet there is also neon splendor and bright lights concealing the dark heart of the city’s underground, well rendered by colorist Marco Lesko. Suffice it to say the unique aesthetic of the movies is replicated perfectly throughout this book.

This volume is rated 15+ and I consider that to be a fair rating. There is nothing in Blade Runner 2029 that would be inappropriate for an older teen audience and nothing likely to upset fans of the original movies, which were rightly rated R for violence, nudity and sexual themes. There is nothing so overt in this collection, though there are some disturbing images of one body being impaled on rebar, a dissected corpse post-autopsy and some loose body parts in various Replicant labs.

Blade Runner 2029 Vol. 1: Reunion Vol. 01
By Michael Green, Mike Johnson,  ,
Art by  Andres Guinaldo
Titan Comics, 2021
ISBN: 9781787731943

Publisher Age Rating: 15+
Related media:  Movie to Comic

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Character Representation: Indian American, Japanese-American, Lesbian, Mobility Impairment, Prosthesis,

Blade Runner 2019: Volumes 1-3

The original Blade Runner was not a big hit when it was originally released in 1982, yet it has gone on to become a classic of science fiction cinema and inspire a sequel, Blade Runner 2049. While not directly adapting the Philip K. Dick story Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner encapsulated the themes of Dick’s dystopian world, where the best of humanity reached the stars, only to poison the Earth and abandon the poor and the sick to a slow death on a dying world. Yet even that existence is preferable to the life of slavery forced on replicants; artificially made beings virtually indistinguishable from real humans.

Titan Comics’ Blade Runner 2019 is the first original graphic novel series set in the world of Blade Runner. Beyond being officially endorsed as canon to the films, the series is co-written by Michael Green, who co-wrote the script for Blade Runner 2049. That alone ensures a higher level of quality than one might normally expect from a film tie-in comic, even when that writer is an Oscar Nominee for his work on the film Logan. Green is an experienced comic book writer, as is his co-author, Mike Johnson, with whom he previously collaborated on DC Comics’ New 52 Supergirl series. This makes them an ideal team for adapting the world of Blade Runner into a comic book format.

Set in Los Angeles during the same time as Blade Runner, but with none of the film’s characters making an appearance apart from replicant magnate Dr. Eldon Tyrel, the first volume of Blade Runner 2019 quickly introduces us to Aahna “Ash” Ashina. Ash is widely considered to be the best of the LAPD’s Blade Runners; special detectives tasked with hunting down replicants who go into hiding on Earth. However, a lack of replicants to hunt and pressure from City Hall sees Ash temporarily reassigned to investigate the disappearance of Isobel and Cleo Selwyn, the wife and daughter of billionaire Alexander Selwyn. It soon becomes apparent that Ash’s assignment was due to more than a rich man demanding the best detective available, and Ash soon finds herself fighting to protect Cleo from an unexpected threat.

Green and Johnson’s scripts perfectly capture the themes of the original films and the reoccurring idea that the replicants and other artificial beings are more compassionate and noble than the fiendish organics that created them. Ash is a prime example of this, starting out with no sense of sympathy for replicants and unspoken envy of them, given her own dark secret. As a child, Ash was denied the right to follow her mother into the stars due to an unspecified spinal condition that renders her unable to walk without the aid of an implant that requires constant recharging. This makes Ash ironically dependent on the same technology she hates and leaves her needing to hide the truth of her disability from her coworkers in the same way replicants must hide from society.

The artwork flawlessly replicates the neo-noir theme of the films. Artist Andres Guinaldo boasts a gritty aesthetic that offers a detail-driven view of the future. The colors of Marco Lesko perfectly complete the pictures, with vivid reds highlighting moments of action and contrast with the cool blues and greens that dominate the larger narrative. Lesko also manages the neat trick of hiding neon shades in the background that hint at the splendor of the city center, even as the action largely takes place in the dimly lit shadows of the mean streets. Fans of the movies will be pleased, but the comics serve as a wonderful introduction to the setting for those who have not seen the films.

All three volumes of Blade Runner 2019 are rated 15+. I consider that to be a fair assessment. There’s no overt nudity in the artwork, apart from one cover depicting an exotic dancer in the middle distance, though there are several shots of Ash’s bare back that serve only to showcase her implant. Of larger concern is the book’s violent content and some detailed and disturbing images of people being shot and blood being shed. There is nothing that would be inappropriate for older teens, however, and indeed the comics are more restrained in what they show than the films.

Blade Runner 2019: Volumes 1-3
By Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Andres Guinaldo
Titan Comics, 2019
Vol 1 ISBN: 9781787731615
Vol 2 ISBN: 9781787731929
Vol 3 ISBN: 9781787731936
Publisher Age Rating:  15+ Only
Related media:  Movie to Comic

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)
Character Representation: Indian American, Prosthesis, Wheelchair User,

Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: Defender of the Daleks

Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: Defender of the Daleks is a bit of an odd duck. It is a graphic novel collecting two comics that were part of a 2020 multimedia event spread across various Doctor Who novels, comics, games, audio plays, escape rooms and, well, basically every medium with a Doctor Who license apart from the television series that started it all. The oddity is that despite being a small part of what may be the biggest Doctor Who story ever told, at least in terms of its spread across various formats, this graphic novel is remarkably well-contained and serves as a solid introduction to the Doctor Who premise for newbies. While there is a title page that outlines the show’s concept and all the characters, writer Jody Houser does a fine job of slowly bringing readers into the world of the time-traveling alien hero known as The Doctor, while setting up the story proposed by James Goss, who came up with the whole Time Lord Victorious concept.

As the novel opens, The Doctor is suffering from a bout of short-term memory loss and the travel log on their time-ship, the TARDIS, has no record of where they were. This points to a serious paradox having occurred and the possibility that The Doctor was either pushed into a parallel universe or that something altered the history of their universe in a big way. However, that mystery must be put on hold after The Doctor is confronted by a horde of Daleks; the world-conquering aliens that are The Doctor’s greatest enemy. But these Daleks are not looking for a fight. They are looking for a hero.

The Daleks think The Doctor is the only one who can save the universe from The Hond, a primordial race so ancient that even The Doctor’s race thought they were a legend made-up to frighten children. Unfortunately, The Hond are all too real and, in the timeline caused by the paradox, they have advanced to become a major threat. This is something of a problem given that The Hond are a death cult dedicated to destroying every other race in the universe before destroying themselves. To save this reality, The Doctor and The Daleks must form a reluctant alliance.

While the plot of Time Lord Victorious is a standard “Enemy Mine” scenario with two enemies being forced to work together for a greater good, Jody Houser builds upon that basic premise to spin a spirited story. Her grasp of the Doctor’s character is fantastic and fans of the show will likely hear the voice of David Tennant as they read this novel, along with the digital growls of the Daleks. The artwork by Roberta Ingranata also does a fine job of capturing the essence of the show and the appearance of Tennant’s Doctor and the various Daleks. She also offers up a disturbing design for the Hond. The color art by Enrica Eren Angiolini also deserves praise, creating continual interesting visual contrasts, such as with the opening pages in which the cold of space has a subtle blue tint contrasting with the warmer orange shades highlighting the scenes inside the TARDIS.

Titan Comics has rated this volume for readers 12+ and up and I think that’s a fair rating. There’s nothing in terms of content that is inappropriate for teen or tween audiences, being on par with your average episode of the Doctor Who television program. I dare say this book could be safely enjoyed by younger readers, though they may need help with some of the bigger words.

Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: Defender of the Daleks
By Jody Houser, James Goss
Art by Roberta Ingranata, Enrica Angiolini
ISBN: 9781787733114
Titan Comics, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 12+ Only
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Related to…: TV to Comic

Doctor Who: A Tale Of Two Time Lords

Legends are told across the universe of a blue box that shows up in times of great need. It can travel anywhere in time and space and is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Inside this blue box, which is known as the TARDIS, lives a being known as the Doctor. Sometimes the Doctor is old with young eyes. Other times the Doctor is young with old eyes. Sometimes the Doctor is a man. Other times the Doctor is a woman. At all times the Doctor is a champion of the downtrodden, never cowardly or cruel, who stands up against all tyrants, both petty and powerful.

Once, when the Doctor was a young and dashing man, he became stranded on the planet Earth in the city of London in the year 1969, with his companion; a human medical student named Martha Jones. The two had fallen prey to a quantum assassin known as a Weeping Angel; a curious being who displaced people in time and fed upon the potential energy released by that shift in spacetime. They were eventually saved by a clever woman named Sally Sparrow, who reunited the Doctor and the TARDIS… but for now they are still stuck in 1969 with no way out.

Now, an older Doctor, who is a witty livewire of a woman, has found herself in London in 1969 along with her current crew of companions; dyspraxic mechanic Ryan Sinclair, probationary police officer Yasmin Khan and retired bus driver Graham O’Brien. This is troubling, as the laws of time usually do not allow the various versions of the Doctor to cross paths, since this could cause a paradox that could destroy the universe. Unfortunately, a group of Weeping Angels are also now in 1969… and they are not the only alien menace with designs on London town!

A Tale Of Two Time Lords is the fourth collection of Doctor Who stories starring the Thirteenth incarnation of the Doctor published by Titan Comics and the first story to team the Thirteenth Doctor with an earlier incarnation; the Tenth Doctor. Despite this, it is a wonderful story for new readers of the comics and neophytes to the Doctor Who television series. The most fantastic aspect of this story, which is built around the classic Tenth Doctor episode “Blink,” is that Jody Houser’s script walks the reader through everything they need to know about the original episode, the concept behind the Weeping Angels and just how there are more than one version of the Doctor running around, in case you don’t already know. Established fans will not feel talked-down to, however, as there are also s a number of clever nods to the show hinting at the complexity of the Doctor Who universe that shouldn’t scare away newcomers. Indeed, it only encourages them to delve deeper into the lore of the show.

Houser’s script is brought to life beautifully by Roberta Ingranata, who perfectly captures the appearance of the characters from the show. More importantly, Ingranata shows amazing skill as a visual storyteller, and the fast-pace chase scenes that are part and parcel of the Doctor Who experience are well translated into an illustrated fiction format under Ingranta’s pencils and inks. The color art by Enrica Eren Angiolini also deserves praise, being suitably vivid and eye-catching.

This volume is rated 12+ and I think that is a fair rating, if only for the use of language. I am referring, in this case, to the use of advanced scientific terminology younger readers might not grasp and not curse words. There’s nothing inappropriate in the text or artwork, so advanced readers of a younger age should be able to handle A Tale Of Two Time Lords with little issue.


Doctor Who: A Tale Of Two Time Lords
By Jody Houser
Art by Roberta Ingranata and Enrica Angiolini
ISBN: 9781787733107
Titan Comics, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 12+
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Character Traits: Black, British, Pakistani, Mobility Impairment, Muslim
Related to…: TV to Comic

Normandy Gold

In this 1970s-set thriller, Sheriff Normandy Gold arrives in Washington, DC from Oregon in search of her missing sister, a high-class call girl. Working sometimes with and sometimes against a local detective, she plunges herself into the seedy underbelly of the Washington sex trade, doing whatever it takes to find her sister, uncovering a murderous conspiracy that goes all the way to the upper echelons of Washington society and politics.

Veteran mystery writers Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin, winners of a combined ten Edgar Awards, have laid out a familiar, yet twisting plot and filled it with complex characters full of ethical and emotional conflict. The art by Marvel and DC regular Steve Scott is a lush homage to the colors, shapes, and styles of the 1970s.

Unfortunately, Normandy Gold is one of those comics that I think might have been better as a novel or a film. Constrained by the narrative limitations of the sequential art format, characters with the potential for nuance fall a little flat and a clearly well-plotted mystery comes across as little too confusing. In an interview at the end of the volume, Abbott and Gaylin talk about their vision for this story in cinematic terms, even providing a fantasy cast for a film version, which just made me wish it had been a movie instead.

The art, chock full of stylized sex and violence, is well-executed and pitch-perfect to the genre and era, but ill-suited to the story—taking its dynamic female characters and freezing them in hackneyed male gaze tableaus. In a less static format, I could easily see Normandy Gold as a female-fronted reclamation of a notoriously exploitative genre, which was probably at least part of Abbott and Gaylin’s intent. Instead, I felt that witnessing Normandy’s use of sex in her quest for knowledge and revenge through a series of pin-up style stills drawn by a male artist detracted from that.

All the titles in Titan’s Hard Case Crime imprint are geared towards adults and this is no exception. The story’s themes of violence and sexual exploitation are graphically represented in the artwork, with gory crime scenes and full-page nudes. With the popularity of noir comics for young adult readers, such as Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie, it might be tempting to suggest Normandy Gold and other Hard Case titles, but this is definitely a comic that I would not give to an even a mature teen reader—sex and violence (and sexual violence) aside, there are necessary levels of cultural and emotional context required to understand the story that are better left to adult audiences.

If you are collecting comics for adults, Normandy Gold isn’t a must-have, but it’s a strong choice, bringing a much needed female voice to the crime comic genre. The Hard Case imprint is purposefully very niche—a treasure trove for fans of hard-boiled pulp detective stories, rather than written for a wider audience—but with the well-executed 1970’s feel and the name-appeal of its authors, Normandy Gold is worth consideration if you’re in the market for suspense and mystery comics or titles that might bring some new readers to your graphic novel collection.

Normandy Gold
by Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin
Art by Steve Scott
ISBN: 9781785858642
Titan Comics: Hard Case Crime, 2018