Review by Ian Keogh
Having worked well together on Revolutions of Terror, the creative team of Nick Abadzis and Elena Casagrande return for the three chapter title story starting with Gabby back in New York and attempting to explain to her friend Cindy what she’s experienced. While she’s doing that, the Doctor bluffs his way into a very secret and exclusive auction of what are believed to be alien artefacts that have somehow found their way to Earth. Abadzis generates some good comedy from the Doctor’s knowledge of what they actually are. One of them in particular arouses interest, but it turns out he’s not the only person aware of what it can do.
What makes this story stand out is the spiritual aspect, the dangling of the impossible, ultimately joined with Abadzis making some really nice observations about how the Doctor does what he does. In some ways it delves to the essence of him, and it also looks at what could be done to improve New York, and by extension, humanity. Abadzis is smart enough to know the other side of that coin, and he plays well with the mundane appearing to be extraordinary.
Casagrande can’t draw all five chapters single-handedly, so there’s some help from Eleanora Carlini, whose pages clash intrusively within the same chapter, and an entire chapter of Rachael Stott’s graceful art (sample right). She’s very good at defining personalities visually, and at offering viewpoints that might not occur to other artists. Casagrande, though, has the more difficult job, and she introduces characters who’ll be around for a while.
Since it was Gabby who joined the Doctor for other adventures, the presumption was that the more confident and likely to speak her mind Cindy Wu’s purpose was only as contrast, but she takes a larger and more interesting role. She’ll be another recurring character important to later plots, but is also very relevant here, as a pleasing aspect of The Fountains of Forever is how the threat starts as something strange, but something that can be explained, and grows into something vast and inexplicable. A similar progression is seen in at least one cast member.