He is the Last of the Time Lords. His deeds are spoken of in millions of languages on billions of worlds. To the oppressed and the hopeless, he is a champion. To tyrants and monsters, he is the nightmare that keeps them from sleeping soundly. He is The Doctor! And while his fantastic time-ship, The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), doesn’t always take him where he wants to go, it unfailing takes him to where he needs to be.
Where The Doctor needs to be right now, apparently, is 17th Century Paris France. It is 1695 and the 52nd year of the reign of The Sun King – Louis XIV. It is a time of musketeers, swashbuckling and opera. In short, it’s not the sort of place The Doctor’s current incarnation would choose as a vacation spot, being the sort who prefers punk rock to opera and a simple hoodie to a frilly shirt and tabard.
Still, the TARDIS never brings The Doctor somewhere without a reason. And the reason apparently involves why Cardinal Richelieu is still alive and manipulating the French government some fifty years after he was supposed to have died. At least, when he died in the history as The Doctor remembers it…
What manner of menace is responsible for this? And how will The Doctor’s current adventure affect the life of Julie D’aubigny – a scandalous young opera singer with a penchant for strong wine, fencing and a temper to match her fire-red hair?
I’ve been a fan of Robbie Morrison’s work on Doctor Who for some time but I think this first chapter of Terror Of The Cabinet Noir may be his strongest introduction ever. The script for this issue evokes the spirit of the classic Doctor Who stories of Robert Holmes, with opening scenes that present our villain and The Doctor’s new companion long before we see The Doctor himself. Julie D’aubigny is a particularly interesting creation – a literary sister to Robert E. Howard’s Dark Agnes. Fans of Gail Simone’s take on Red Sonja will find her to be an engaging heroine.
The Gothic aesthetic of Morrison’s script is well-matched by the work of the art team. Mariano Laclaustra (ably assisted by Fer Centurion and Agus Calcagno) presents a plethora of pretty pictures that almost seem to have been painted rather than drawn. This illusion is due to the excellent work of colorists Carlos Cabrera and Juan Manuel Tumburus. It is a credit to all of these artists that there is no sign of many hands at work as the final artwork of each page resembles nothing less than a masterpiece forged by a single hand!
If you’ve never read a Doctor Who comic before, this would be a great one to start with. There’s no pesky backstory or continuity to concern new readers beyond a blurb on the title page explaining the concept. The story is easily accessible, with a likable heroine in the middle. And the artwork looks just plain fantastic!