‘Torchwood #2.1: Station Zero’ reviewed

❉ The explosive second arc of Torchwood starts, co-written by Captain Jack himself – John Barrowman!

Gwen Cooper has been pulled away from her domestic bliss by the reappearance of Captain Jack Harkness, and his companions, the crew of the alien tech-filled ship the Ice Maiden. No sooner has Gwen rejoined the team, than they has to contend with jetski-riding ninjas, a mystery involoving an alien race known as the Navigators, the return of the roguish Captain John Hart, and the revelation that the current Lady of Torchwood House, Karina is far from what she seems. As we rejoin events in the midst of a stand-off, things are more than a little tense…

‘Torchwood 2.1’ cover B by Will Brooks.

Over the years ‘Doctor Who’ has helped propel many talented performers to fame. Very few of them, however, have displayed the same level of passion for their character that John Barrowman does for Captain Jack Harkness. Along with being the most vocal advocate for a television revival of ‘Torchwood’ and reprising the role in audio plays for Big Finish, Barrowman is one of the few stars of the ‘Doctor Who’ universe to have written stories featuring their character.

Not content with a one-off adventure like Colin Baker’s 1994 comic The Age of Chaos, since 2009 Barrowman has written a multitude of prose and comic stories with his sister Carole. Their latest effort is a second ‘Torchwood’ comic series, Station Zero, whose first issue is released this month.

Fans of the show’s slightly underrated second series will be happy to see the return of Captain John Hart. Though future TV appearances for the character seem unlikely, this issue offers a good consolation prize, because you can easily imagine his dialogue being spoken by James Marsters. The same is true for Gwen and – not surprisingly considering the writers – Jack, both of whom feel true to what’s come before.

As for the plot, it more or less opens with a literal bang on the grounds of the original Torchwood House. Despite that call-back to the organization’s Victorian origins, Station Zero (like the previous comic series) is very much about Torchwood’s future.

One of the beauties of the comics medium for a series like this is the ability to offer a scale beyond what a BBC (or even BBC/US cable) TV budget will allow. Consequently, we get a mobile headquarters on a ship full of alien technology, including an A.I. avatar named Shelley, and a mysterious group drilling into the Earth. On reflection, those are actually two of the less complicated story developments. We also get a stowaway who insists “I’m not an alien. I’m Welsh” and at least one character who’s definitely not what they seem.

In short, all of the elements are in place for a very enjoyable run of issues. This includes artist Neil Edwards whose previous work includes many of DC and Marvel’s key characters as well as Titan’s 2015 multi-Doctor miniseries. Edwards articulates the Barrowmans’ story nicely, making it look dynamic but not pointlessly flashy. This lets a sense of fun come through in the same way as some of the captions that are deployed throughout the issue. Little asides like “This is where we came in. Exciting, isn’t it?” make it clear that the creative team on the series is very serious – about the reading pleasure of the audience. This is probably the only unsurprising thing about this comic, because we should know by now that Captain Jack Harkness is all about pleasure.

❉ ‘Torchwood 2.1’ by Carole and John Barrowman with art by Neil Edwards is out now from Titan Comics. In addition to comic shops, the ‘Torchwood’ comic series is available to order digitally from Comixology and Amazon. 

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