Operation Volcano, by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel

I realised a couple of weeks ago that I had paid for a couple of Humble Bundles of Doctor Who comics published by Titan over the years, and now had dozens of unread books to add to my Librarything catalogue. (Which is going to mean a big jump in the number of unread books that I log at the end of this month.) I’m going to go through them in order of internal chronology, hopefully at a rate of one a month, which will be enough for several years to go…

So that means starting with Operation Volcano, a collection of Seventh Doctor stories first published in 2018 as a three-shot series and then collected as a graphic novel. The majority of pages are taken up with the title story, by no less than Andrew Cartmel and Ben Aaronovitch, which takes the Doctor and Ace to Australia for an adventure of alien infiltration with Group Captain Gilmore. It’s a well done, densely written adventure, which perhaps shows that the comics medium does not suffer the same limitations as the screen.

Second frame of third part of “Operation Volcano”:

There are also three shorter stories in the volume. “Hill of Beans”, by Richard Dinnick, takes the Psychic Circus from The Greatest Show in the Galaxy to a planet ruled by a president who looks just like Donald Trump. the art is by Jessica Martin who played Mags in the TV story and whose character features here. I’m afraid it did not really work for me.

“The Armageddon Gambit”, by John Freeman and Christopher Jones, is a less ambitious but more successful Doctor-and-Ace-outwit-the-aliens tale. Given that it is the third story in the book, I’ll give you its second frame as well.

(I think we know the answer to the alien commander’s questions)

Finally, an unexpected treat: a six-pager from Paul Cornell and John Stokes, “In-Between Times”, which explores the relationships between Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright, the First Doctor and the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan. Rather lovely; and I suspect it may be the most recently published new First Doctor comic as of the time of writing.

You can get Operation Volcano here (if you didn’t get the Humble Bundle like I did). Next up is an Eighth Doctor volume, A Matter of Life and Death.

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