We are almost to the end of our Doctor Who slump, with the new episodes and a new Doctor a mere month away, but I have found since becoming a full-fledged Whovian that when the show is on hiatus, there is always some stone to overturn in order to get my fix. This time, Titan Comics has been given the opportunity to produce not just one, but two new Doctor Who monthly series, featuring the most recent incarnations of the most famous Time Lord, the 10th and 11th Doctors, as played by David Tennant and Matt Smith, respectively.
In becoming a fan of Doctor Who, I have done the seemingly insensible, yet appropriate way to experience the show, by watching it in reverse order of Doctor. I started with 11, then went back and watched 10, then 9, then the 8th Doctor TV movie. I haven’t yet dipped into the classic Doctors yet, but that is certainly on my to-do list. So needless to say, when I heard that Titan was publishing my two Doctors in these new books, I was ecstatic.
Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1
Writer: Nick Abadzis
Art: Elena Casagrande
Publisher: Titan Comics
The great thing about Doctor Who is that the show always gives plenty of opportunities for other writers to fill in the gaps. This story takes place after the Doctor loses his companion Donna Noble, and while he is on his own lonely quest. The trick with a Doctor Who comic is that it has to strike the best balance of the show, yet with all that sequential art has to offer.
When jumping onto any new Doctor Who story, it’s always good to come in with a good point-of-view character. This typically is a person whom the Doctor invites to be his companion. This issue is no different. We are introduced to Gabriella Gonzalez, a Latina American, who is struggling to make her own life meaningful. In true Who fashion, she gets caught up in a strange happening, and the Doctor stumbles in to help.
Nick Abadzis does a good job of thrusting the reader into the world. There are typical head-scratching moments of what is behind the mystery of the ghosts people are seeing on La Dia De Los Meurtos. The fleshing out of Gabriella and her family is particularly well done. We immediately care about this family and what will happen to them. Abadzis doesn’t get Gabriella into the TARDIS too quickly, as there is some excellent monster action and a rescue by the Doctor. His dialogue for the Doctor is perfect for Tennant’s version, and there is a good balance of humor in spite of the state-of-mind the Doctor was in during the chronology of the show.
What’s striking about this version is that the companion is not your typical British beauty. David Tennant’s Doctor was known for having the most “diverse” companions of the modern era, but this comic takes it one step further. It’s good to see the Doctor relate to a broader cast of characters.
The real treat of this book is Elena Casagrande’s art. Her style is fun and dynamic. It has its moments of light-heartedness, but also depicts some really creepy monsters. She has a manga influenced style, but not so stylized that it feels unrealistic. Arianna Florean’s colors cast the perfect hue on the book, as well.
I am really excited about this issue and this series, and look forward to more while I wait for Peter Capaldi to take the reins of the show. And if I don’t like Capaldi, I will have this book to fall back on to get my Tennant fix!
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1
Writers: Al Ewing and Rob Williams
Art: Simon Fraser
Publisher: Titan Comics
The bar is set a little higher for the Eleventh Doctor. He and Amy Pond were my first Doctor and companion, and not many pairings can top them in my opinion. That makes it hard to be objective, but I’m just setting the stage.
This story takes place after season 6, when Amy and her husband Rory have settled into their lives away from the Doctor, leaving him to go on adventures by himself. In contrast to the Tenth Doctor story above, this Doctor is in a much better frame of mind. It’s a good place to tell more stories.
Despite the Doctor’s mood, this story starts off in a darker place, concerning the new companion who is introduced. Alice Obiefune is really struggling. She has just lost her mother, and is also losing her job and flat. The tone of the book is melancholy, along with the black-and-white hues of the art. Suddenly, everything changes when she meets a man chasing a multi-colored alien dog down a London street.
Ewing and Williams also strike a good balance with the show. We are immediately asked to care about Alice and her woes. It may not be fair to compare with the Tenth Doctor story above, but the lack of supporting characters tends to diminish Alice. Perhaps this is intentional, as she really needs someone like the Doctor to step in and give her life new meaning. But this introduction of a new companion seems to need a bit more in future issues in order to make her more well rounded.
On the other hand, Ewing and Williams capture Matt Smith brilliantly. He is witty, he is quick-thinking, and he is dashing. More than that, he is pastoral, and allows Alice time to absorb the amazement of being inside the TARDIS while also grieving over her mother. There are poignant moments here that are well worth the panel time.
Simon Fraser’s work is a bit more stylized than Casagrande’s. This is not wholly a bad thing. Fraser gets to express the likeness of Matt Smith without out-and-out photo referencing, which I really appreciate. However, his work lacks detail in some places that are needed in a highly technological science fiction book like this one. Particularly disappointing was the Saturday morning cartoon feel of the inside of the TARDIS. It was big and broad, but lacked the feel of the depth of the space.
Again, the companion in this issue, like the one above, is atypical, which makes it more fun to see what kinds of capers the two will get into. I’m certainly going along for the ride, as this is my Eleventh Doctor and I can’t wait to see what happens with him and Alice.
So there you go! Pick up these two new Doctor Who books this Wednesday, July 23! Allons-y and Geronimo!