Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Comics! Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1 and The Eleventh Doctor #1

Lately I've been dipping into the world of Doctor Who comics with both the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, but today I've read the brand new releases from Titan Comics: Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1 and Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1, which are such outstanding first issues that I am already itching for the collected volume.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1
The Tenth Doctor's first issue takes place some time after he has left Donna, but before Waters of Mars. Interestingly, he does not appear on a significant number of pages. Nick Abadzis' story focuses on Gabriella, a college-aged New Yorker who works at her family's laundromat and Mexican restaurant, and she takes business accounting classes — all of this at her father's behest. One day, something strange happens at the laundromat, and as this is indeed Doctor Who, life becomes increasingly more strange and chaotic. When the Doctor does appear, he is armed with one of his cobbled together gadgets, and in a nice nod to his lines (and at this stage, his future) in the 50th Anniversary special, he says, “I should have made this go 'ding.' I love it when they ding.”

Elena Casagrande's artwork is leaps and bounds better than some of the other DW comics I've seen, and Gabriella, although confused, is ready to find out what exactly is going on, which is what the Doctor likes. The curious, intellectual sort are his favorites. The issue ends on an excellent cliffhanger, and I'm interested to see how it plays out.

The Eleventh Doctor, meanwhile, has recently left the Ponds to their newlywed life and is having some adventuring time to himself. First though, we meet Alice Obifune, who is having a hard time navigating through life after the death of her mother. On top of that, she's being evicted so her building can be converted into luxury flats, and cuts at work mean she's laid off.

Alice started to wonder if the grayness would ever end. If she would ever feel anything but numb and empty again. Maybe she needed to see someone.

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1
And out of nowhere, a giant, rainbow-colored dog appears in the middle of the road with the Doctor chasing after it. The dog looks like a cross between a Chinese dragon parade costume and Falcor, the “luck dragon”/flying dog thing from The Neverending Story. As companions often are, she's sucked into the madness right away, and for the first time in a long time, she can forget how sad she is. I definitely want to see how her story progresses.

Al Ewing and Robert Williams capture the odd bleakness and surreality of depression, and although I didn't like Simon Fraser's art as much as Elena Casagrande's — for one thing, his Eleventh Doctor face doesn't look quite right sometimes — the rainbow dog looks great.

What's also great about both of these comics is that they featured women of color without congratulating themselves for doing so, something Russell T. Davies would do during his run on the show. Though I'm not a fierce Steven Moffat hater like some people are, I do find it somewhat irritating that when he has, for example, not-straight characters, they are presented in a way that's like, “Oh look, we made a joke because this is just sooooo unexpected. May we have a cookie now?”

I digress.

Both of these first issues offer an interesting, complex backstory that I hope continues to flourish. We need more of these kind of characters in comics in general, and also on Doctor Who, the show proper. Let us hope that with this new comics series and a new Doctor, a little cross-pollination is in order. We could be in for some fantastic results.

Full Disclosure: Titan Comics provided me with advanced review copies of these comics. I thank them for the gesture and I will continue to be fair with my reviews.