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Review: Doctor Tomorrow #5

Doctor Tomorrow #5

After a universe-spanning journey, Doctor Tomorrow must face his greatest foe yet: himself in Doctor Tomorrow #5! Will the combined forces of the Valiant Universe be enough to avert total annihilation After the epic conclusion, will there be a tomorrow?

I still don’t really know what day it is anymore, and as such, I have been falling way behind in my comics reading. Other than the Valiant books, which I will typically review here, I’m lucky if I remember to read the books I pick up. Y’see because I work Wednesdays at my LCS, I’m getting my books regularly… I’m just not reading them. Perhaps because of this, I was taken entirely by surprise when I found the advance review copy of Doctor Tomorrow #5 in my inbox.

The concluding chapter to the series has the Bart Simms we saw in the first issue return from the future after twenty years (and a lot of training) to confront the man who “killed” him when he was a kid; an alternate future version of himself called Doctor Tomorrow – believe it or not this actually makes a lot of sense if you’ve read the first four books, and it’s easy enough to tell the different because of the difference in costuming and the burnt face of Doctor Tomorrow.

But with the comic serving as the finale, and after we saw a classic montage in the form of Doctor Tomorrow #4, the final confrontation between Bart Simms and Doctor Tomorrow is as much a story about confronting your own demons as it is saving the world. As such, there are a lot of scenes within the book that feel oddly truncated; Alejandro Arbona has a lot interesting scenes within the book that need to be there, but the transitions felt a little forced. It’s not that Doctor Tomorrow #5 needed to be issues five and six, but maybe had Arbona been given another six pages or so the book would have a better flow to it. As it is, you get the meat of the story, but it feels like you’re missing some of the peas and carrots – you know those parts of a roast that you don’t look forward to but miss nonetheless if they’re not there?

That’s how the final chapter left me feeling. I wouldn’t cut anything from the book (other than the ads to give Arbona more space), but there’s just something missing from the initial read through to take you from one moment to the next. A shame, because a lot of what you get is really good; Bart vs Doctor Tomorrow is less a classic hero/villain smack down than you would expect, and more of a cerebral confrontation on Bart’s side. It serves to highlight the difference between the two men, and works well as a backdrop to the following scenes with Bart questioning who he is and who he will be now that he’s aged twenty years in thirty seconds.

Artist Jim Towe is joined again by colourist Diego Rodriguez, and the pair remain consistent for the finale. There’s a distinct style to the book that evokes a certain nostalgic feel for those of us of an age to have been glued to the television on Saturday mornings as kids, and it lends the book a youthful exuberance that carries the stories energy from the first to the final page. There were moments where it was harder to tell what was occurring on the page, but that had more to do with the review copy water mark than anything the artists had consciously done.

Doctor Tomorrow #5 brings this story to a close whilst also establishing a baseline for future stories with these characters – something that most miniseries from Valiant have been doing over the last year or two. On it’s own merits, though, the series was an interesting take on the traditional superhero/sidekick dynamic, and will be one that Valiant should mark firmly in the Win column. It may not have been as action packed as Bloodshot or as deep as Rai, but Doctor Tomorrow is just plain fun, and you really can’t go wrong with a good comic that’s entertaining.

Story: Alejandro Arbona Art: Jim Towe
Colors: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Clayton Cowles

Story: 8.3 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics

Preview: Doctor Tomorrow #5 (of 5)

DOCTOR TOMORROW #5 (of 5)

Written by ALEJANDRO ARBONA
Art by JIM TOWE
Colors by KELLY FITZPATRICK
Letters by CLAYTON COWLES 
Cover A by CLAYTON HENRY, ULISES ARREOLA
Cover B by KANO
Preorder Cover by CARY NORD
On sale AUGUST 26th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

  • After a universe-spanning journey, Doctor Tomorrow must face his greatest foe yet: himself!
  • Will the combined forces of the Valiant Universe be enough to avert total annihilation?
  • After the epic conclusion, will there be a tomorrow?
DOCTOR TOMORROW #5 (of 5)

Advance Review: Doctor Tomorrow #5

Doctor Tomorrow #5

Previously in Doctor Tomorrow, we met Bart Simms – many versions of Bart Simms, in fact. The youngest one meets an adult one who is locked in battle with foe capable of global destruction in Hadrian. Only in typical comic book fashion, we learn that Hadrian is another Bart Simms, who ends up blasting his younger version into an alternate future where his childhood best friend gives him years of training.

Doctor Tomorrow #5 picks up with our younger version of Bart all grown up and ready to fight the battle he has trained for in the future. But for those who followed this series, there was a lot more going on than just your typical battle. Bart’s home life was in shambles due to his mother’s passing and it had placed a strain between him and his father, who in this issue is quite shocked that his son is all grown up and that he missed those years of his life.

I thought the Doctor Tomorrow #5 creative team delivered an exciting finale to Doctor Tomorrow. Series writer Alejandro Arbona and artist Jim Towe are a team that I hope will be back to further the adventures of Bart in another series. Kelly Fitzpatrick‘s colors flowed well with Towe’s pencils. It helped give this series a bright look. Jim Towe’s pencils felt like they had a bit of a unique look to them that was pleasant to look at. I thought the effort put in to create the dialogue between Bart and his father was a pretty good moment and a spot that could have easily been passed over as a loose thread.  If I had to nitpick, it would be that there were a few times that the dialogue felt a bit too cliché during the big fight.

I’ve really enjoyed Doctor Tomorrow and for a few reasons. For one, it brought your regular superhero fisticuffs to the Valiant Universe, a place not necessarily brimming with heroes and villains. It was old school. It was the young hero, ready to face down his foe who was, in essence, himself. It gives Valiant a book with a huge all-ages feel that isn’t burdened by being only written for kids. Doctor Tomorrow brought out all the big Valiant characters but they really were only used as background spectators to Bart’s battle against his own Hadrian. While I never know how much anything Valiant does goes to bring in new fans, I think the regular fan of the publisher will enjoy Doctor Tomorrow very much.

Story: Alejandro Arbona Art: Jim Towe
Color: Kelly Fitzpatrick Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Alejandro Arbona Takes Us in To Tomorrow with Doctor Tomorrow

Doctor Tomorrow #1

Bart Simms is has met the Valiant, Universe’s greatest hero… himself! Doctor Tomorrow is Valiant‘s newest superhero and one aimed at a younger “all-ages” crowd.

Writer Alejandro Arbona and artist Jim Towe have crafted this time travel adventure.

We got a chance to talk to Arbona about writing Valiant’s all-ages comic and what it’s like writing “pretty much every” Valiant character in the miniseries.

Graphic Policy: How are you doing? 

Alejandro Arbona: Ehh! You know. I’m doing well, thanks; lucky enough to be healthy and employed, although the neverending anxiety and constant nightmares are getting a little old. But I’m excited for people to finish reading Doctor Tomorrow!

GP: With this being a spoiler-filled interview, let’s just dive in. How did you find writing three versions of the same character in the book? Did it require any particular planning or did you look at them as three distinct characters with the same name?

AA: It’s a little of both. Obviously the entire story is predicated on the multiple Barts being virtually the same person, at different ages, and the inevitability of each of them aging into becoming the next one in the cycle, or our Bart being the one to break that cycle. At the same time, it was fun to write them as if Bart was meeting his long-lost dad and his grandpa, and discovering their legacy that he’s going to inherit. And in that case, the idea of the cycle, and breaking the cycle, still applies. It’s a literal story about Bart becoming the hero that the story needs him to be, but it’s also just a metaphorical story about growing up.

GP: Whenever time travel is involved in a story, there’s always the chance of creating more plot holes and redos than you intend; how do you plan to avoid those while keeping the story engaging?

AA: Ah, but if you read carefully, there isn’t actually that much time travel in the story. The only significant bit of time travel is the warning from the future, courtesy of Neela’s computer in issue #1. Doctor Tomorrow and Hadrian are older than our Bart because they come from universes that got a head start on ours, and they just made a sideways hop across dimensions to get over here. But to really answer your question, we made it pretty clear in the story from page one that the stakes are real. There’s no reset button and no undo/redo and no control-Z. Even when you’re hopping around across parallel universes, you only get one shot at living your life.

Doctor Tomorrow #3

GP: Looking back at the earlier issues after the revelation in the third, you can see the groundwork being laid for Bart’s evil turn that I’m sure most of us missed the first time through. How much planning did you put into creating a comic that gives a different experience with each reading?

AA: We have the outline process to thank for that. By planning out the story with several drafts of outlines and beat sheets, I knew what all the payoffs would be, and how to set them up. But most importantly, the real trick was figuring out how to hint at Doctor Tomorrow’s true character, without telegraphing the reveal. Right from the beginning he’s brash and arrogant, and he jumps to conclusions but frequently gets those conclusions wrong. The reader doesn’t really notice anything off about him, because those qualities are so common in superhero characters, and he seems like just another textbook superhero type. And the fact that he’s so quick to anger, and so quick to jump into a fight, pays off when we find out he’s a bad guy, because we’ve already seen those qualities in the young Bart, and we’re afraid he’s doomed to turn out the same way.

GP: The growing up/training montage in Doctor Tomorrow #4 was brilliant. How much guidance did you need to give Jim Towe when writing those pages?

AA: I’m so happy that worked out! It was definitely an experiment, and it was entirely on Jim to pull it off. My hesitation about the montage, even though I was the one who wrote it, was that it wouldn’t work in comics because a montage is an audiovisual technique, with a strong emphasis on the “audio” of it. Montages work in movies and TV because you have music shepherding you through all the jumps in time, and that’s just impossible in comics, obviously. All I asked Jim to do was a tight six-panel grid, and I kept it all dialogue-free, hoping readers would get the vibe. One brilliant touch that Jim added was to break the grid with only the first and last panels of each page, so it feels a bit like a fade-in and a fade-out through time. Alternately, I think the complete opposite would also have worked, no panel borders at all, just everything in a splash page with only elements of the visual composition distinguishing one moment from another. But probably nothing in between would be as effective, I’m guessing.

GP: Did you ever think when you first joined Valiant you’d be writing their first in continuity all ages book?

AA: The all-ages of it was more about taking advantage of the opportunity, more than it was done by design. Valiant and I agreed that we wanted to tell a story about an aspirational superhero, a paragon of goodness. That’s a kind of story I wanted to write and a kind of story they wanted to publish. And then the specific idea that I happened to pitch them came with a teen protagonist. Then we kind of all arrived together at the all-ages approach because everything was already there in the mix. The approach for me was to write something that was truly all-ages, to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, not all-ages as a code word meaning “only for kids.” This is all-ages the way that Spider-Man and Superman are supposed to be all-ages. The label’s just there to reassure you that you can share your copy with your kid and you can both read it.

GP: If the book wasn’t all-ages, would you have changed anything about it?

AA: Not at all. We did have a little push-and-pull with Valiant where I have more permissive standards about how much swearing is okay for kids…but I’m the first one to admit I swear too much! In terms of content, storytelling choices, etc., there were no disagreements and no compromises.

GP: You’ve written pretty much every Valiant character in this miniseries alone, but is there any you’d like to explore further?

AA: I could rattle off my wish list of Valiant characters, but that would be poor form. Though I will tell you this, people have asked me what Rex the Razer is doing in those battle scenes, when he’s supposed to live in the Deadside, and I do have the story that answers that question! I’d also love to tell a story about what happens next for Neela and her incredible time computer. And of course, Doctor Tomorrow II, the continuing adventures of Bart as a superhero in the Valiant Universe.

GP: With this being a book with time travel, I feel I should ask; if you could go back to any time, when would you go and why?

AA: Honestly, I wouldn’t. Even with COVID-19 and all the disasters we’re going through, right here and now is the best time to be. Any given moment in the past wouldn’t have the internet, or electricity, or indoor plumbing. If anything, I might like to visit the future, when hopefully things are better for all of us. But I’d like to believe I’ll see it anyway, just by living.

GP: Thanks for your time!

AA: Thank you for having me! I really appreciate it.

Review: Doctor Tomorrow #4

Doctor Tomorrow #4

The true origin of Doctor Tomorrow is finally revealed in Doctor Tomorrow #4! Can Bart Simms ready himself in time to rescue the Universe from complete annihilation?

Despite comics coming back to shops with more regularity, Valiant hasn’t resumed their full pre-lockdown schedule just yet. I’m not honestly sure how many comics the company is publishing every month now. I’ve read far fewer Valiant books since publishing has resumed than I was expecting.

Doctor Tomorrow is Valiant’s first all-ages book set within the publisher’s continuity. After last issue’s apparent death of the young Bart Simms at the hands of the older Bart Simms (who had recently killed the slightly older Bart Simms… it sounds confusing when I write it like that, but it’s actually not), we discover pretty quickly what happened to the young hero in what amounts to a comic’s worth of a training montage.

Young Bart Simms travelled to slightly older Bart Simms time and ends up spending what appears to be several years training and learning how to defeat… himself.

Believe it or not, it’s a comic that works. And it works very well. We get some more exposition on the villain Hadrian. A touching relationship develops between two characters. It has echoes of Marty and the Doc from Back To The Future. It also adds enough to the mix so that the relationship doesn’t feel stale and too familiar. Doctor Tomorrow #3 was crammed with as many characters as writer Alejandro Arbona and artist Jim Towe could squeeze in. Doctor Tomorrow #4 is a much more personal affair. The issue gives readers a breather but also acts to set up the final act . It does so in such a way that new readers can jump into the miniseries on part four of five. I’d highly recommend the entire thing so far.

The more personal nature of this book, the relationships built upon, and the montage sequence itself does elevate it significantly over the previous issue. Arbona’s script allows Towe and colorist Diego Rodriguez to explore the world within the art; there may not be the sprawling space vistas from X-O Manowar, but the down to earth nature of the story lends itself very well to an art style that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Saturday morning cartoon (and no, that is far from a bad thing).

Jim Towe’s art seems to fall more toward what you’d consider an “all-ages style”, and he’s been pretty consistent throughout the series quality-wise. I’ve said before that the art reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoon in all the right ways, and I stand by that. This is a comic that has the ability to evoke a strong nostalgic feeling in people of a certain age despite this being a new character. After the dip of the third issue, Doctor Tomorrow comes roaring back for the finale that will likely add a new twist to a battle we’ve already seen several times in the series so far, and I fully expect to be launched into that fight almost immediately as Doctor Tomorrow #5 opens up.

Join me, won’t you?

Story: Alejandro Arbona Art: Jim Towe
Colors: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Clayton Cowles

Story: 8.4 Art: 8.1 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Preview: Doctor Tomorrow #4 (of 5)

DOCTOR TOMORROW #4 (of 5)

Written by ALEJANDRO ARBONA
Art by JIM TOWE
Colors by KELLY FITZPATRICK
Letters by CLAYTON COWLES
Cover A by KENNETH ROCAFORT
Cover B by DAVID LAFUENTE
Preorder Cover by BARRY KITSON
On sale JULY 29th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

The true origin of Doctor Tomorrow is finally revealed!
Can Bart Simms ready himself in time to rescue the Universe from complete annihilation?

DOCTOR TOMORROW #4 (of 5)

Review: Doctor Tomorrow #3

Doctor Tomorrow #3

The entire world vs. a madman… the world is going to need more heroes! Doctor Tomorrow #3 is the can’t-miss clash of 2020 as Hadrian stands against the Valiant Universe!

It has been a long time since I’ve read a new comic. Sure, I’ve read new to me comics, but this is the first new comic that I’ve read since the world shut down because of Covid 19.

Doctor Tomorrow is Valiant‘s first all-ages book set within the publisher’s continuity. This issue has what I assume to be the heroes of our Valiant Universe facing off with Doctor Tomorrow against the mad scientist Hadrian, though there’s a great little nod to the original Valiant comics which could open up interesting possibilities in the future should the publisher choose to explore and expand upon the idea introduced by that nod.

Unfortunately, that was probably the most exciting and unexpected thing in this book. It’s not a bad story, and writer Alehandro Arbona is still able to keep the sense of warmth and fun that has been a hallmark of the series so far, but the comic echoes the first part of the first issue in a away that feels a little more familiar than it should.

Joining Alejandro Arbona is artist Jim Towe, colorist Diego Rodriguez and letterer by Clayton Cowles. The comic is effectively a confrontation between the heroes and Hadrian, with a slight twist that you may see coming, but younger readers likely won’t.

Doctor Tomorrow #3 makes no apologies for putting in as many characters as it can conceivably can without breaking the story, and somehow Arbona avoids the story feeling anything but an oddly intimate affair.

Jim Towe’s art seems to fall more toward what you’d consider an “all-ages style”, though even with that there’s a page where everybody takes on a much more youthful appearance for a panel or two, but that’s honestly the only major flaws with with the book that springs to mind right away. . I’ve said before that the art reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoon in all the right ways. It’s an aesthetic that fits the style and scope of the comic by being accessible without sacrificing visual storytelling, which means that you never have to stare at a page for to long in order to figure out what’s going on – and that allows the story to move at a blistering pace.

The one downside with reading new-to-me comics and rereading older books, especially older Valiant books, is that this doesn’t stack up quite like I hoped it would. If you’ve been reading the series, you’ll know more or less what to expect from the comic. However, if you’re thinking of picking it up for the first time, then you’ll not find anything here that’ll set you world afire, but you should still enjoy the store so far.

Story: Alejandro Arbona Art: Jim Towe
Colors: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Clayton Cowles

Story: 7.2 Art: 7.8 Overall: 7.4 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleTFAWZeus Comics

Advance Review: Doctor Tomorrow #3

Doctor Tomorrow #3

The entire world vs. a madman… the world is going to need more heroes! Doctor Tomorrow #3 is the can’t-miss clash of 2020 as Hadrian stands against the Valiant Universe!

It has been a long time since I’ve read a new comic. Sure, I’ve read new to me comics, but this is the first new comic that I’ve read since the world shut down because of Covid 19.

Doctor Tomorrow is Valiant‘s first all-ages book set within the publisher’s continuity. This issue has what I assume to be the heroes of our Valiant Universe facing off with Doctor Tomorrow against the mad scientist Hadrian, though there’s a great little nod to the original Valiant comics which could open up interesting possibilities in the future should the publisher choose to explore and expand upon the idea introduced by that nod.

Unfortunately, that was probably the most exciting and unexpected thing in this book. It’s not a bad story, and writer Alehandro Arbona is still able to keep the sense of warmth and fun that has been a hallmark of the series so far, but the comic echoes the first part of the first issue in a away that feels a little more familiar than it should.

Joining Alejandro Arbona is artist Jim Towe, colorist Diego Rodriguez and letterer by Clayton Cowles. The comic is effectively a confrontation between the heroes and Hadrian, with a slight twist that you may see coming, but younger readers likely won’t.

Doctor Tomorrow #3 makes no apologies for putting in as many characters as it can conceivably can without breaking the story, and somehow Arbona avoids the story feeling anything but an oddly intimate affair.

Jim Towe’s art seems to fall more toward what you’d consider an “all-ages style”, though even with that there’s a page where everybody takes on a much more youthful appearance for a panel or two, but that’s honestly the only major flaws with with the book that springs to mind right away. . I’ve said before that the art reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoon in all the right ways. It’s an aesthetic that fits the style and scope of the comic by being accessible without sacrificing visual storytelling, which means that you never have to stare at a page for to long in order to figure out what’s going on – and that allows the story to move at a blistering pace.

The one downside with reading new-to-me comics and rereading older books, especially older Valiant books, is that this doesn’t stack up quite like I hoped it would. If you’ve been reading the series, you’ll know more or less what to expect from the comic. However, if you’re thinking of picking it up for the first time, then you’ll not find anything here that’ll set you world afire, but you should still enjoy the store so far.

Story: Alejandro Arbona Art: Jim Towe
Colors: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Clayton Cowles

Story: 7.2 Art: 7.8 Overall: 7.4 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Doctor Tomorrow #3 (of 5)

DOCTOR TOMORROW #3 (of 5)

Written by ALEJANDRO ARBONA
Art by JIM TOWE
Colors by DIEGO RODRIGUEZ
Letters by CLAYTON COWLES
Cover A by KENNETH ROCAFORT
Cover B by PEACH MOMOKO
Preorders due JUNE 1st | On sale JUNE 24th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

The entire world vs. a madman… the world is going to need more heroes!
It’s the can’t-miss clash of 2020 as Hadrian stands against the Valiant Universe!

DOCTOR TOMORROW #3 (of 5)

Review: Doctor Tomorrow #2

Doctor Tomorrow #2

The universe warping origin of Doctor Tomorrow revealed in Doctor Tomorrow #2!

The menace of Hadrian threatens the entire Valiant Universe!

Doctor Tomorrow is Valiant‘s first all-ages book set within the publisher’s continuity. This issue also reminds people of Valiant’s multiverse, or introduces them to it. We learn more about Doctor Tomorrow and his relationship with Hadrian, a universe destroying being hunting for a mysterious material. The straight forward nature of the plot has been done numerous times before. It’s hero gathers allies to prevent the end of something. Tthere’s still something fresh about this book.

Writer Alehandro Arbona takes a fairly standard plot and injects a level of warmth and fun. The comic embraces the simplicity of the story. The all-ages nature of the book means the comic doesn’t rely on “edgy” cliches to sell a comic. Doctor Tomorrow #2 is a fresh nice deep breath.

There’s an innate innocence to it, which works very well in Doctor Tomorrow‘s favor.

Joining Alejandro Arbona is artist Jim Towe, colorist Diego Rodriguez and letterer by Clayton Cowles, a creative team that seem to be working together in rare synchronicity. The comic opens with a flight scene as Doctor Tomorrow tries to teach his younger self how to pilot the flight suit that they’re wearing. It’s the first honest look we get at the nature of Doctor Tomorrow’s abilities, but it also is one of the most endearing sequences I’ve read in some time. It’s also an example of just how well Towe and Rodriquez come together to illustrate this book.

Doctor Tomorrow #2 also features fan favorite Valiant characters making a long over due return to the publisher’s comics, and that has me just as excited about the story as anything else in this book. It brings the book into continuity, and introduces two of the more underused aspects of the Valiant universe.

Jim Towe’s art seems to fall more toward what you’d consider an “all-ages style”. The art feels like it came from a Saturday morning cartoon aimed toward older kids, which I love. It’s an aesthetic that fits the style and scope of the comic by being accessible without sacrificing visual storytelling. It is never difficult to follow the events of this book, with the story moving at a fair pace and the art having a bright determination that feels effortless.

I’m one of those people who tend to shy away from all-ages comics because they’re usually not part of the main continuity of whatever universe I’m following, but with Doctor Tomorrow being another Valiant book that just happens to be all ages, that excuse to avoid the comic has gone. And I’m happy about that, because if I missed this then I’d miss a slice of fun and brightness that we all need right now.

Story: Alejandro Arbona Art: Jim Towe
Colors: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Clayton Cowles

Story: 8.9 Art: 8.9 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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