Torchwood is back again. The Doctor Who spin-off TV series that had four seasons and then a couple of audio books and returns for a second time in comic book form. Let’s hope that this story line isn’t as plagued by delays as the first one was.
Cards on the table: I loved the first three seasons of the TV show. Season four had a number of issues that we can talk about in another forum. But as a comic book, I am finding it lacking.
One of the problems with comic books based on television shows is that they get stuck at a certain point in time. For Torchwood, this problem is compounded because at the end of season three, almost all the team had been killed off and in season four no new characters who were added to the team survived. (Spoiler Alert: the show went off the air six years ago. You had plenty of time to watch it.)
That leaves you with a team of two: Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper. You can’t really add to the base team, because if any of the TV show fans pick up the comics, they are faced with a bunch of characters they have no attachment to.
Titan compounded this problem in their Torchwood comics by having them written by the series star, John Barrowman, with his sister, Carole. Sometimes comics based on TV series benefit by having an actor write a comic book arc. They have a special insight into the character they played and especially when it is one of the minor characters, they can be brought into the light and really given a chance to shine.
In this case, we are left with a book that reads more like the Adventures of Jack Harness and less like Torchwood. Gwen Cooper is given no chance to shine. She is used less than some of the new characters created for this story. All of the side characters are either former lovers of Jack or ones that he wants to be future ones. None of them have a connection to Gwen, other than Jack. Even Gwen’s husband seems to be gone.
As the story goes, aliens have come to Earth to turn it into compost. Jack bring a bunch of friends to Earth to stop them, meets up with Gwen and semi-sorta captures the bad guys, but not really. More to follow. Meanwhile, there is also the mystery of the current owner of the Torchwood mansion and his alien wife, who is trying to kill him regularly.
I really wish that they had decided to use the advantage of the comic book format to really take us to places that the budget of a TV series could never go. Take us to the great wall or alien cities on the edge of cosmic phenomena. Instead we hop from place to place that we regularly saw in the show: secret lab, interior of a spaceship and a manor house. I really wish that they had let Neil Edwards’ (Assassins Creed, X-Factor) imagination go wild.
The problems with this book and series are the most common ones that plague adaptations of TV shows and movies. I really had hopes they would have overcome them. Sadly, they didn’t.
Writers: John Barrowman and Carole Barrowman
Artist: Neil Edwards
Colorists: Nicola Righi and Alberto Bugiù
Publisher: Titan Comics