Doctor Who review: Monstrous Beauty: Part 1 begins the Ninth Doctor’s story in Time Lord Victorious

The first part of Doctor Who Magazine’s Ninth Doctor story Monstrous Beauty sees the Doctor and Rose in the middle of an ancient war – a war between Time Lords and vampires!

Today sees the release of a brand new issue of Doctor Who Magazine, and with it comes the second part of its current comic story, Monstrous Beauty. So now seems as good a time as any to take a look at the first part. How well does this story begin?

Writer Scott Gray jumps into the story from the get-go. Which isn’t too surprising: with just three parts to tell this story in, plus the fact that the comic is only part of a magazine full of articles and interviews, there’s rather limited room to tell this story in.

Of course, as a veteran writer of Doctor Who comics – having written for so many Doctors across so many years for Doctor Who Magazine – Gray is an expert at concise storytelling. So there’s no time wasted on reestablishing the Ninth Doctor and Rose – Gray knows his audience, and he knows that not only will the audience be familiar with these two iconic characters, but that seeing them on another adventure is nostalgic enough.

Doctor Who

Monstrous Beauty provides a rare glimpse at the much-loved team of the Ninth Doctor and Rose.
Courtesy BBC

Old-school vampires

So how well does the opening part of Monstrous Beauty work at establishing the story? Overall, rather well. We find out very quickly about the Dark Times, mainly thanks to the fact that the Doctor and Rose have landed in the middle of a war. Naturally, this not only gives artist John Ross plenty of opportunity to depict some exciting action scenes, but we also get some well-designed ships, too. Especially those flown by the vampires, which look both frightening and strangely organic.

Oh yes, this story features vampires. Specifically, vampires versus Time Lords, or at least their ancestors. For fans of the Classic Series, this is rather exciting – while it might be hard to believe that the Doctor Who universe features actual vampires, this was something heavily established in Tom Baker serial State of Decay. (A story that features in our list of 20 great horror stories from the Classic Series.) The war between the Time Lords and the vampires was something of a key point in that classic story, so it’s nice to see it being explored in this comic.

But how do the vampires look in Monstrous Beauty? Almost surprisingly, both Scott Gray and John Ross depict them in a delightfully old-school way. While you almost expect Doctor Who to subvert expectations and not have them look or act like traditional vampires at all, instead, they are depicted as monstrous creatures, with more than a nod to classics like Nosferatu. Particularly the three who appear at the end of the comic, who almost seem like something out of a dark fairy tale…

Overall, the first part of Monstrous Beauty kicks off the story nicely. Like the novel The Knight, The Fool and The Dead, it gives us a rich depiction of the Dark Times, and explores a major part of Time Lord mythology only hinted at in the TV series. And of course, it ends on a good cliffhanger, leaving this reader very eager to read today’s issue of Doctor Who Magazine right away…

Next: The War Doctor Begins in 2021!

Have you read Monstrous Beauty #1? Do you think it began the story well? Do you think the war between the Time Lords and the vampires should have been explored on-screen? Let us know in the comments below.