Doctor Who just seems to be an entity that can survive in any format.
It’s dominated British sci-fi for over 50 years on the small screen, the Big Finish audio dramas gave new life to the tragically underused 8th Doctor, and the ongoing series of novels continue to expand on each Doctor’s exploits. And so naturally it takes to comic books like a Dalek takes to exterminating.
Yes there have been many Doctor Who comics over the years, most notably the continuing strip present in each copy of Doctor Who magazine. But now it’s the turn of Titan Comics to deliver us two new adventures – Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor and Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor. You may have heard of them, what with the upcoming Doctor Who Comics Day scheduled to coincide with their release, so theyre not without hype. But do they stand up to it? Can they deliver? Lets find out.
First up The Tenth Doctor series will be one much coveted by fans, what with Tennant being the ever popular incarnation and not a day goes by where some fan somewhere on the net is yearning for him to return. So its quite ironic that for his introductory issue… he’s hardly in it. Yes we do get him doing his usual timey-wimey things in the background – building detecting machines that go ‘ding’ when there’s stuff – but for the most part the focus is laid squarely on the companion-to-be.
Gabby Gonzalez, the struggling daughter of an immigrant trying to make it in America who works two jobs AND goes to night school, yet just so happens to be stunningly beautiful 24/7. As a result, I found it quite difficult to connect with the character; her predicament level has been cranked up to overkill as though the writer is begging the reader to feel sorry for Gabby. But at the same time she has a large support group of family and friends, so doesn’t have to face these odds alone.
Speaking of which, not much is given away about the Big Bad, but I did enjoy the ties to the Mexican Day of the Dead festival and the supernatural elements of the story, and I’m certainty intrigued to see how the eventual reveal of Alien activity ties in to the paranormal phenomena. Additionally the New York setting and characters made the adventure feel fresh, while its stated that it all takes place in the canon sometime after Journeys End – where in the TV show the Doctor had given up on taking companions, so this is another interesting dynamic which I hope pays off and explains why Gabby is so special as to melt the Doctor’s icy hearts.
The writing was good, and certainly captures the feel of the Russell T. Davis era, the 10th Doctors dialogue sounds like David Tennant when you read it and the themes of family throughout the comic are just so domestic which fits in with the 10th Doctor era’s tone. As for the artwork, while the cover is just excellent and looks so good it may as well be a picture of Tennant with an Instagram filter, the art inside is a slightly different matter. Its mismatched at times, with the Doctor especially looking like he’s caught in some half-regeneration between himself and a lazy 10th Doctor cosplayer, but having said that the final panel is drawn perfectly, with the characters looking dynamic and the action and thrills ramped up. And oh yes, it’s a cliffhanger. Tune in next time. And I just might – it’s a slow burn but with some solid writing, a tantalising set up and an excellent cliffhanger that plunges the Doctor and his companion into danger while bringing them together at the same time.
And so we come to The Eleventh Doctor. Tonally, this is another planet to the Tenth Doctors adventure. Its light, breezy, and straightforward. Theres something very madcap about the writing, as though the childish impulses of the 11th Doctor have been over exaggerated resulting in a comic book which is very child friendly. Even the “monster” of this episode is a multi coloured rainbow dog that feeds off bad vibes. The Doctor is introduced running down a busy London street chasing it, which eventually culminates in the oversized dog bursting into the Houses of Parliament because, you know, politicians are bad, kids! In all fairness, the childish tone is explained, as the events take place just after the events of A Christmas Carol, so with Amy and Rory married and settling down the Doctor is feeling at his most happy and immature. Its only when he lost the Ponds he “grew up” – the Tardis became darker and Matt Smiths performance became slightly less madcap. But nestled here in the happy go lucky part of his canon, we get the bonkers Doctor and the playground themed Tardis interior.
Having said that the comic does begin with a very somber tone, the companion, Alice Obiefune is introduced during a very low point in her life. Shes lost family and is in the process of loosing her home and job. The comic even starts off in stark greys and blacks, along the lines of reading an adult graphic novel. But the second the Doctor enters Alice’s life then we immediately switch to colour because symbolism! Symbolism’s cool! And its as subtle as a gigantic rainbow dog, but in the context it works.
Naturally Alice gets her big moment to shine, where she defends a nice alien from a group of bad, nasty humans. Unlike Gabby Gonzalez from The Tenth Doctor, I found Alice very easy to relate to and empathise with. She is struggling with many real world issues in her life and must do it alone with no family or friends. This is a character that not only needs the Doctor in her life, but deserves him too.
As for the writing, well it is good. The Eleventh Doctor is well represented and the dialogue is spot on, with the Doctor coming out with lines that wouldn’t be amiss in a TV episode. The comic book format also allows the adventures to expand beyond the limits of the TV show, and the writer makes good use of it here what with the giant multicoloured space dog smashing through a wall of the Houses of Parliament, and a much better look at the Tardis’ swimming pool. When it comes to the artwork, its unfortunately another mixed bag. While the cover looks just as excellent as The Tenth Doctor, the interior panels are quite messy in places while the 11th Doctor sometimes resembling Matt Smith, and other times if it weren’t for the costume Id have no idea who it was supposed to be.
In the end I found The Eleventh Doctor to be a much weaker start from Titan than their Tenth Doctor offering. The story has an ending, which wraps everything up, while the few elements that suggest a larger story going on feel forced, and crowbarred in. The colours are perhaps too vibrant and the tone far too light for the average adult fan to enjo, but kids will no doubt get a kick out of reading further adventures of the floppy haired Time Lord.
Overall this is the beginning of an exciting new run from Titan and I cant wait to see where both stories go next. The adult fan will no doubt enjoy the darker themes presented in The Tenth Doctor while kids will love the madcap zaniness and straightforward plotting offered in The Eleventh Doctor.
The Tenth Doctor
The Eleventh Doctor
Both comics will be available from July 23rd.