Titan Comics: Doctor Who MISSY #1 Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Titan Comics: Doctor Who MISSY #1 Review

Missy’s breaking someone out of jail. Tony’s bumping into walls behind her.
In the 50th anniversary year of Roger Delgado’s commanding first performance as the Master, many of the leading companies who build the Doctor Who Extended Universe are running tributes and celebrations. The celebrations of course are not only of Delgado, but of the character of the Master as a whole, across their five decades of meddling with the Doctor and the universe, and our five decades of loving every minute of it. Except possibly Time-Flight. What the hell was going on in Time-Flight?


So it feels both timely and right for Missy – the first (as far as we know at the moment) female incarnation of the Master, to barge her way through the plethora of Doctors and stick her name well and truly on a run of Titan comics. Because ya-boo, go and suck a supernova, Sourpuss, she jolly well can.

Granted, from our perspective in time, it would probably feel even more right for the Sacha Dhawan Master to be doing it, but there’s something uniquely stark raving bonkers about Missy that helps her to stand alone, and to carry the weight of a full comic-book run. Michelle Gomez’s performance as an effortlessly burn-it-all bonkers Master gives you everything you could possibly need for comic-book japery – an intellect that’s intense and serious, often smothered with bouncy mayhem and psychopathy.
In issue #1 of Missy, written by Jody Houser, with art by Roberta Ingranata and colourwork by Enrica Eren Angiolini though, we get at least a little of the best of both worlds. Missy is about to stage a jailbreak – but the prisoner she’s trying to spring from the Stormcage space prison doesn’t know who she is. In fact, the prisoner believes her when she waltzes in with a decorative umbrella and a rubber duckie on her hat and announces herself as ‘Doctor Who,’ in that nails-down-a-chalkboard way she did during World Enough And Time.

The prisoner forms a neat bridge between the conventions of New Who – the Stormcage – and the personnel of the Classic version, because Missy’s here to free a very particular Classic villain, on a mission to steal a segment of the Key To Time. Or so she says.

It’s never entirely wise to take Missy at her word, and it’s something of a relief that, while the prisoner believes her entirely when her whacky personality is presented to them (and us) as a future incarnation of the Doctor, they don’t trust her enough to stage their rescue, causing agreeable complications.

Issue #1 falls into two parts: the exposition section, where we get to learn who’s in the Stormcage and why, as well as why Missy wants them out; and then what it’s probably fair to describe as the “bants” section, which is merely character interplay between Missy and the villain she’s here to rescue.

If there’s anything that will irritate about this issue, it’s the ratio of those sections, which seems around 40:60 in favour of bants. Possibly even 35:65. With a character as naturally whimsical as Missy, too much bants at any given time can start to feel like page-filling without purpose, and there’s at least a whiff of that in this first issue. But Jody Houser’s no fool, and threads the story elements that are here through the fabric of the chatter with enough of a pulsebeat that they feel almost musical in between the twittering and banter, like base chords of consequence underneath a falsetto of chit-chat.

Does the falsetto feel too much? On balance, not really – it feels well observed by Houser, and gives Ingranata and Angiolini plenty of chances to stamp their visual Missy on the issues.

Does it all actually go anywhere? Oh yes – there’s a perfectly acceptable cliff-hanger to this issue. If there’s an issue it’s that that cliff-hanger comes too soon, and leaves us feeling like we haven’t made as much progress in the story as we’d have liked before it happens.

Imagine an episode of Doctor Who where, twenty minutes in, the Tardis team have barely progressed further than ‘Cave outside the Tardis.’

OK, bad example – both Earthshock and The Caves of Androzani do that, and they turn into epic adventures before the end.

Actually, perhaps that makes them good examples. There’s plenty of personality and potential laid down in issue #1 of Missy. Yes, we’ve barely progressed into ‘Corridor outside the prison cell,’ during issue #1, but like those Davison examples, enough has already been done to spark potential adventure down the line. The cliff-hanger is true to the form of both characters, and gives a sudden breath of fresh adrenaline and action, to ramp up from the largely conversational tone of most of the first issue, so it definitely leaves you wanting more, and the boost of energy hints at more drama – and probably more active ‘escaping from Stormcage’ in the second issue.

Is Missy’s intention really to steal a segment of the Key To Time? Who knows at this stage, but it’s a neatly retro reference which gives some push and thrust to the set-up.

Roberta Ingranata’s artwork and Enrica Eren Angiolini’s colours here lend a neatly bleak and washed out institutional cleanliness to the Stormcage, and there’s some high quality silhouetted looming from Missy on the way to breaking out the prisoner. In the aftermath of the breakout, the pair get a convincing quiet into their panels, so you believe in the echoes of the place, which adds extra atmosphere into the story as it breaths between it’s mostly talking introduction and its action-packed cliff-hanger.

All in all, there’s a lot to love about issue #1 of Missy. Not least the fact that it’s a Missy comic-book! But the combination of Jodie Houser feeding in her threads of storytelling like that undertow pulse beneath the intentional gibbering of Missy, the reveal of the prisoner she’s come to break out, some atmospheric art and colourwork and a neatly bonkers cliff-hanger make it worth more than its premise.

It’s time to say something nice. It’s time to say ‘Here’s money, gimme my Missy.’

Doctor Who: Missy #1 is available to purchase now.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk

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