Writers: George Mann & Cavan Scott
Artists: Alessandro Vitti, Ivan Rodriguez, Tazio Bettin
Colourist: Nicola Righi, Enrica Eren Angiolini
Publisher: Titan Comics
Review by Billy Seguire
In 1966, the Cybermen were first introduced to Doctor Who in the First Doctor’s final serial The Tenth Planet. They became the first monster to actually take down the Doctor, and for that they will eternally hold a place of honour in the pantheon. In the 50 years since, the silver menace has gone up against nearly every incarnation of the Doctor through all his lives. Titan Comics are celebrating this golden anniversary in a sweeping five-issue multi-Doctor event. Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen #1 starts the story off with a bang, putting four Doctors and their companions in imminent peril. It’s a massive improvement over the complicated temporal shenanigans of Four Doctors. Supremacy of the Cybermen genuinely feels like Titan is doing something new and different with the material.
Set in four different time periods, the Doctor stars in Supremacy of the Cybermen in all four of his incarnations as seen in the modern series. This marks not only the Ninth Doctor’s first encounter with the Cybermen, but also his first proper appearance in this multi-Doctor event. An extra dose of excitement comes from the Twelfth Doctor clearly coming at us from beyond Series 9, travelling solo, sporting that magnificent “whoodie” and referencing the recent return of Gallifrey and all of its curmudgeoning Time Lords. The other Doctors come to us plucked from their ongoing comic storylines alongside Titan-original companions. The Ninth Doctor even makes it more of a party by picking up the formidable Jackie Tyler to compliment his usual set of companions in Jack and Rose.
The Cybermen are really only glimpsed in this opening issue. It’s the smartest decision the writers could have made, relying on the buildup to emphasize the scale of the threat of the villains in an issue that really could only ever tease at what’s to come. While Cybermen are openly ravaging 2006 through the Ninth Doctor’s storyline, Doctors 10, 11, and 12 are dealing with their own threats: Sontarans, Dinosaurs, and the Sisterhood of Karn respectively. The structure could have been repetitive but each Doctor’s style is on display in a way that the differences between them show.
Putting the Twelfth Doctor at the centre of the action tells us flat out that this is his story. It lets the story feel like it’s pushing forward beyond the series. Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor seems to be at the centre of the Timey-Wimey core, giving us a story that could never be accomplished in his original series on this scale, but also brings us closer back to the feeling of series one by pairing the Ninth Doctor back up with Jackie Tyler and reminding us why, for a time, she just might have been considered the Doctor’s greatest nemesis. Both the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors are embroiled in stories only tangentially involved with the Cybermen, but it provides some much-needed variety to the story that ensures each segment doesn’t need to come in the same flavour, nor should it when dealing with the diversity of each Doctor’s era.
Artistically, I could tell from the first page that this book was taking a hard stance in giving Titan’s Doctor Who a distinct visual edge. Set on Karn, Ohilia’s grizzled features prying rubble off a crashed TARDIS sets a tone for characters who are fighting beyond their means. The background design is lush and colourful. The modern series’ version of Karn is a gorgeous feast of deep reds and blacks and this comic captures it completely. The fact that we’re looking at four separate stories set throughout time and space gives a good shape to the story. Characters appear beyond copying promotional pictures and the artists give life to the character of all four Doctors in ways that specifically compliment their unique personalities.
I was simply blown away by how much action we’re getting in this first issue. Each threat is a separate entity with the Cybermen impacting the breadth of time and space. The fact that the Doctors don’t meet up at all in the story is a benefit to the story on all sides. While I do hope that we get to see the Doctors interact (and bicker) in some way before Supremacy of the Cybermen finishes, the separate storylines make more time for getting to the heart of the story and letting these characters function in the way they were intended.
Looking forward, the final reveal of a villain working alongside the Cybermen will only expand the possibilities for this miniseries. There’s a scale to this story that warrants all four Doctors to be involved and I only hope it continues. There’s a grandiose aspect to any Doctor Who story that starts on Karn, a fact that Stephen Moffat himself took advantage of both in Day of the Doctor and the start of series nine. It implies we’re getting a Cybermen threat that raises the stakes beyond anything we’ve seen before. For once, it almost even seems like this mess isn’t even the Doctor’s fault in the first place!
Buy It! The 50th anniversary of the Cybermen will not feel uncelebrated if Titan keeps up this quality of work for a full five issues. After terrific runs on the Eighth Doctor and Ninth Doctor, respectively, both George Mann and Cavan Scott are expertly qualified to lead the charge on moving things forward in this story. Supremacy of the Cybermen #1 has already shown the strength to juggle four Doctors simultaneously, keeping each Doctor unique and justifying the need for each character to take their own lead in the fight. It feels different this time. Titan has shown an unreserved enthusiasm for multi-Doctor events. While I had some mixed feelings about Four Doctors, Supremacy of the Cybermen has a solid premise that keeps the story consistent and rolls along with the best aspects of the show’s momentum.