Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Webcomic Wednesday #5: Bastard Who

Alright. This is going to get a bit meta for a moment, so bear with me.

I started writing movie reviews for the local newspaper in 2004, something I still do today. In addition to that, I also also did movie, book and food reviews for the college paper I wrote for in, uh, college. So when Kuurion started throwing the word "blog" around and talking about Webcomic Wednesdays, I was pretty experienced. But there have been stumbling blocks.

See, there's the problem of self-sorting. The theatre here in town has only one screen, and so there's only one movie at a time, so I have to watch what they're showing. Online, it's different: The only webcomics I follow are the ones I think are worth reading, nobody has the time to read all of them, so... self sorting. But now that we're doing the link exchange thing through Ink Outbreak (see the box below the skyscraper ad on the right of Our World) I have all manner of comics thrown at me, and one of them caught my eye. And, contrary to self-sorting for only the stuff I love unequivocally, I found a comic that was (to my eyes) both deeply flawed yet still somewhat engaging. Introducing: Bastard Who.

The thing that needs to be aired immediately for those who didn't pick up on it is that Bastard Who is a bewildering take on Doctor Who, a long-running BBC program that has also attained a cult following here in the US and Canada. I will now give one paragraph synopses of both serials, starting with the show.

Doctor Who is a broad-ranging story of a man who travels in time and space. He is the Doctor, the last of a humanoid race of aliens called the Time Lords, and he travels the universe in a device called the TARDIS, which is disguised as a British police phone box. The other Time Lords were all lost in the Time War, which they fought against the Daleks, raging throughout time and space. Now, the Doctor is a wanderer.

Bastard Who is a broad-ranging story of a man who travels in time and space. He is the bastard, the last of a humanoid race of aliens called the Clock Lords, and he travels the universe in a device called the SARTIV, which is disguised as a refrigerator. The other Clock Lords were all lost in the Clock War, which they fought against the Doll-Ex, raging throughout time and space. Now, the Bastard is a wanderer.

As a big fan of Mad Magazine, I'm quite familiar with the idea of taking a TV show and turning it into a comic in which the characters all have mocking names and the plot is vivisected. But that's not what's happening here - there's far too little humor for this to be considered a comedy.

While there have been eleven Doctors over the run of the TV show - he regenerates instead of dying and gets a new actor and a new personality each time - the Bastard is far less cultured than the three versions of the Doctor who have been on the show since it returned to the air in 2005. I'm not familiar with the older Doctors from the 1963-1989 run, but I'll give the Bastard the benefit of the doubt and assume he's his own man and not specifically derivative of any one Doctor. His good characteristics are matched evenly with shortcomings - a cross between a general idea of the Doctor and maybe a homeless version of Captain Kirk. A little bit spacey, a little bit scuzzy.

It's time to wrap this up, because the temptation to do a point-by-point comparison could drag this on forever. The "New Readers" page introduces the characters well enough, but never mentions Doctor Who. On the other hand, there is a filler image mixed into the run showing the current Doctor standing next to the TARDIS, with the comment that "We’re all Doctor Who fans here anyways, right?" So it's not like author James Riot is trying to pull a fast one on the readers.

The website is a subset of Old Dying Kitty Comics, founded by Riot. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any explanation of what the purpose of, and inspiration for, Bastard Who is. I really wish I knew, because I've reached the end of where I feel comfortable guessing.

The biggest thing that held me on to this was, in fact, that question. The storyline itself never had enough lift, and more than the lightest sprinkling of humor would have been a nice addition to what may or may not have been a parody. Personal verdict: I gave up.

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