THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE TV
EPISODE "42" AND THE
COMIC STRIP ANTHOLOGY
LEAH MOORE &
IDW GRAPHIC NOVEL
RELEASED IN FEBRUARY
2009 (NORTH AMERICA
the TARDIS lands in
a maze-like gallery
filled with thousands
of talking pictures.
the Doctor HAS come
across a place where
showing emotion has
been outlawed. The
inhabitants MAY have
good reason for their
suppression, but it
wouldn’t be like the
Doctor to leave them
in fear of living…
IDW’s third Doctor Who story is this cracking one-off; a straightforward tale
set during the show’s third series. It’s written by husband and wife team Leah Moore and John Reppion, both of whom have several well-regarded comics under their belts, but who will forever be known best for their relationship to the legendary Alan Moore (Leah’s father). Some people have been surprised to see them working on Doctor Who given their illustr-ious connections, but let’s not forget that some of Alan Moore’s earliest work was writing Cyberman back-up strips for Doctor Who Magazine.
The artwork here is provided by Ben Templesmith, an increasingly sought after talent in
the world of comics, best known for another IDW series, 30 Days of Night. Templesmith’s surreal, idiosyncratic style is immediately recognisable – nobody else produces images like these. His unique style mixes photo-realistic faces with highly stylised, cartoony scribblings. While I understand that this will not be to everyone’s taste, I personally adore his work, and the jarring oddness of the style fits with the grim, gothic nature of this tale.
The Doctor and Martha find themselves on the rainy world of Grått, within the Whispering Gallery of the title. This is a place where the Gråttites keep the
portraits of their dead – portraits that whisper to their visitors.
The Gråttites are forbidden to show any emotion, and these
portraits allow them their only chance to express their feelings
and tell their loved ones how they truly feel. It’s a desperately
sad concept for a world, yet strangely plausible. The Doctor
had previously travelled with Grayla, an inhabitant of Grått, one
who was unable to keep her emotions under control. Now her
portrait hangs in the Gallery, and so she must have returned to
her world, and died.
The Doctor would perhaps have accepted this, mourning but
moving on, as always, were it not for her final message: “They
were right. They were right all along. This is no place for emo-
tion. When you come you must remember that.” The Doctor
absolutely refuses to believe that Grayla was willingly ‘cured,’
and sets off into the streets to investigate. He leaves Martha in
the Gallery for her own good – there’s no way that she could disguise her emotions on this
The tale then follows both Martha and the
Doctor separately. Martha, left alone, is
devastated by the grief on display in the Gallery, and the sheer wretchedness of the
Gråttites’ situation. The Doctor, meanwhile,
draws attention to himself by the foolish use
of a multicoloured umbrella, staggeringly bright
against the greyness of Grått, and is soon stopped by the police. He’s no more capable of
controlling his emotions than Martha, of course, and is soon under attack by a huge, hairy beast – a wonderfully realised creature, with just a hint of spider and a touch of grizzly bear about it. This is the Morkon, a creature that feeds on emotions - the reason for the Gråttites long emotional famine. Emotions are banned for fear of waking the creature, but then Grayla came back, preaching her newfound emotional freedom, and it awoke.
The story continues in a simple fashion, a chase with the monster leading to the sobbing Martha in the Gallery, before the Doctor allows it to gorge on his nine hundred years’ worth
of pent-up grief and anger. The beast is destroyed. Yes; it’s a simple end to a simple story, but no less effective for it. Altogether, this is a great read; one worth tracking down.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2009
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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