Review of Doctor Who Magazine 430

So, the much anticipated DWM #430 hit the shelves last Thursday, with its (slightly) new look, (very slight) price increase, a few new features and the (controversial) return of an old one. Polybags were the order of the day for the second month in a row as the mag came complete with another set of three new “art cards”. These plastic coverings cause much consternation among the fans, although I am not entirely sure why this might be, because I much would rather put up with a plastic bag, than have my goodies missing from the inside or, worse, having things glued to the cover. I guess there is a storage issue for those who like to have a pristine and complete archive of older copies but in my mind it’s a small price to pay.

Inside, I didn’t enjoy opening up to find a gaudy advert for Marvel comics adorning pages 2 and 3 but happily this was the last of the disappointments. The must-read features of Production Notes and Gallifrey Guardian (complete with new font) are right there at the front and still manage, in this up-to-the-minute internet age, to get the skinny on one or two exclusive slices of news. The “Galaxy Forum” (or Letters Page to its friends) has been expanded to include Tweets and YouTube as well as texts, Facebook messages and, you know, actual letters too. Nice to see the new mediums being embraced although I always find myself skimming this section if I’m honest.

Interviews in this installment come from fun little chats with Matt and Karen and the much more enlightening piece with Christmas Carol director, Toby Haynes. Sacrificed this issue appears to be the little interview that has been included of late just inside the back cover but instead, elsewhere in the mag, we get a piece called “Double Trouble” in which Nev Fountain and Nicola Bryant interview one another. This has the potential to be quite fun if DWM continue with more of the same, depending, of course, on who gets paired up. Another new feature is “Battle of Wits” in which two notable experts argue the case over a “hot Doctor Who topic”. Again, this has the potential to be fun if the first one is anything to go by (btw, Johnny Candon won this one: Tom is way more influential than Pat!). Two more new features include the frivolous “Wotcha” and the surprising inclusion of a Prize Crossword (not that I would ever write on my copy of DWM).

Lots of the usual features continue unabated, with The Fact of Fiction up to its usual standards, and the Reviews and Coming Soon sections doing exactly what they say on the tin, but there is still an opportunity for a couple of noteworthy articles. Firstly, in another acknowledgement of the online fan community, we get a feature from @benjamin_cook examining 40 people every fan should follow on Twitter. As a fan of this particular social network, it didn’t tell me much that I didn’t know (with only 5 of the 40 not being followed by me already) but I think that the feature was timely… although I cannot believe that @fazzinchi didn’t get a mention. Secondly, came the rather revealing 2Entertain discussion that exclusively revealed the whole of the 2011 release schedule for the classic DVDs. I always wonder why such things are typically kept under wraps, so it was nice to be able to see where all my money will be going throughout the year. Some odd combinations of stories have found their way in to certain boxsets, such as The Awakening and The Gunfighters being paired together. There is some sense to the combinations if you tilt your head to one side and squint hard enough but you really, really need to want to see it.

No review of DWM would be complete without a look at the comic strip. Jonathan Morris’ story “The Screams of Death” seems to evoke the spirit of TV’s The Unquiet Dead, as Eleven and Amy arrive in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century to find mysterious goings on at the opera house. All in all it was a pretty good first part that rattled along at a brisk pace and set things up well. I think that the character of Amy was captured a bit better than that of Matt Smith’s Doctor though, and Dan McDaid’s art continues to grow on me despite a few panels failing to capture a good likeness. Enjoyed it and am looking forward to part two. Where was Rory though?

And finally, the Time Team are back. Well, it’s a new team for a new series and the Cliche Counter and Adrian Salmon’s art are the only things to have survived. I feel like joining in with their mission to re-watch the modern era of DW starting with Rose, and that might be the start of a new feature on this very blog. Watch this space.

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