28 February 2014

AFT: Prime Directive

Prime Directive was originally made to celebrate the release of Character Options' first wave of action figures produced at the 3.75" scale. While I wouldn't say it was obvious that this was the case necessarily, this story is a lot less busy than normal. It's no bad thing to have a 'rest' once in a while.

Continuing the trend established in last month's Ship Go Boom!, this is a self-contained one-part story. This is also very innovative, with the resolution in plain sight from the first page. The Doctor brings Clara to the Kavuna Junkyard, on the hunt for a new Alpharomeic Contemplator. I like the idea of the TARDIS needing a new part for its sentience -'contemplator'. Amongst the scrap, they find a robot, and reactivate it - just as Clara finds a guide saying its an assassin robot.

It's alright though, because it's a terribly nice and polite assassin, continually apologising for the crime it has been programmed to commit. The Doctor manages to dodge his blasts, obviously, and tries to escape in the TARDIS. His way is blocked, and he comes up with a pretty ingenious way of escaping certain death (which he's just restored with unlimited power). On the first page (in the fourth of twenty-nine frames, in fact), the Doctor is seen adjusting his bowtie in a mirror, a wonderfully authentic thing for the Matt Smith Doctor to do.

To escape his death (another faithful Moffat-ism), the Doctor pretends that his reflection is him. It fools the robot, who destroys the mirror then comments, "Prime Directive fulfilled. Can't say I'm happy about it, though. Oh well. Powering down for a little nap." The personality of this robot is really funny, and I certainly enjoyed his presence. His return, perhaps in a slightly more substantial story, would be welcome.

And that's that. I'm sorry if this review seems painfully short (or maybe blissfully, depending on your point of view), but there really isn't much to go on here. It's a brief hop, between adventures, rather than being an adventure in itself. I know that sounds really dismissive, but that's not how I mean it at all. This adventure was originally conceived to showcase the new line of figures, and was released exclusively to the Outpost Who forum last June. It does this job very well, giving the Doctor and Clara another one of their weird 'dates'. The Doctor and Clara are both personified pretty well given this story's brevity, so although this isn't a non-event, it's strangely average and I do mean average, not bad. 

After last year's storm of comics, Phil has admitted that this year's stories aren't the AFT's strongest. While I might be inclined to agree on the basis of this story alone, I can't commit to that given the site's solid reputation, and given last month's original comic, which I personally really enjoyed (despite it featuring Amy!). I shouldn't be worried, there's plenty of potential and quality left yet.

I suppose I ought to discuss the Doctor and Clara figures. As everyone that has seen them has said, they're not of as high a quality as the 5" range, particularly the faces. I'm not sure why they expected them to be, however. If you look at any characters at this scale, you can see they are more simplistic and not as stylised. If you're not familiar with these, just check out some other AFT ranges (the Star Trek line is a good example). The costumes are pretty decent, but the faces really lack any sort of personality features (I mean, most characters have eyes and a nose - often a mouth too). It's a step down, but at least now Phil can do all sorts of wacky crossovers.

He should be commended too for not doing the obvious thing and pitting the Doctor against one of his foes released in the first wave (a bronze Dalek, a Nightmare in Silver Cyberman, a Cold War Ice Warrior and a Weeping Angel) and instead against a new creature. This really helped the comic, I think.

In a Nutshell: Short and inconsequential, but still enjoyable.

You can read Prime Directive on the AFT site here. Next Month: Trumped!

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