Art by: Blair Shedd
Publisher: Titan Comics
As Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor issue one opens you find yourself staring deeply into the eyes of Christopher Eccleston. The striking, nearly photo realistic panels slowly pull back to reveal the Ninth Doctor. A voice over from a companion – most likely Rose Tyler – explains that the Doctor shouldn’t still be surprised by the infinite mysteries of space and time with all the traveling he’s done. And yet he is. Amazingly, after all we’ve seen since the 2005 relaunch of Doctor Who, the Ninth Doctor also still manages to surprise comic readers and Whovians alike with his singular interpretation of the long running BBC franchise’s lead character. He’s curmudgeonly, but when he smiles it’s like the sun peeking from behind a dark cloud. In many ways he is the most optimistic of the modern Doctors, while also being the most troubled. So far all aspects of the character are well formed in this first issue of Titan’s ongoing Doctor Who Ninth Doctor series.
Writer Cavan Scott told us in an interview that this was a natural point to tell new stories about the Ninth Doctor because there is an obvious gap between episodes The Doctor Dances and Boom Town. But it stands to reason that every time the Doctor vworp vworps away, one could technically find a gap in which to set a new adventure. Still, it’s a solid choice to put the story here with the companion ‘dream team’ of Nine, Rose and Jack Harkness. The fan-favorite group, which sadly saw little in the way of screen time for all their chemistry together, is just as winning here as their televised counterparts. The Doctor hopes to show off Excroth: one of his many “favorite” planets. But when the TARDIS arrives at Nine’s coordinates they find themselves amid a field of floating meteors. Puzzled, the team are soon beamed aboard an enemy ship against their will and interrogated by a rather large and threatening robot. The robot pursues the group throughout the large enemy ship, at first taking them for emissaries of the race engaging in a pitched battle with the ship.
Not much more becomes apparent before the end of the book as to why these rather large robots are fighting a strange race of Centurion-centaur robots in the ruins of Excroth. But that’s okay. What I really loved about this book, other than the fact that the Nine-Rose-Jack dynamic was very well represented and scripted, was that it didn’t try to cram too much exposition and story set-up into one issue. Instead we get character development, which to me sets this story early on in the unseen adventures of this TARDIS-team. The Doctor is still calling Jack Rose’s “boyfriend,” whereas by Boom Town Jack is flirting with Nine openly, who seems to enjoy it. Titan has really hit it out of the park with their Tenth and Eleventh Doctor comics (the latter being my favorite screen-to-page adaption) and the interplay so far between these three characters tells me it is poised to join those ranks.
Many of the panels by artist Blair Shedd are lovely to behold. Where he gets it the most right for my money is in the multi-panel action scenes. Several of these use splash pages, overlaid with panels of standard action as well as silhouettes. These look great and move at the speed of the story’s fast-paced action. My only quibble is that while photo real, the art seems to stymie the action in several places. The body positioning sometimes looks a bit awkward, like a randomly paused frame of a film. Still, Shedd must be praised for how lifelike his drawings of the characters are. If fans of the series are pining for more stories from series one of new Doctor Who, they will pine ever the harder for seeing these faithful images of their beloved characters. The story of issue one ends on the companion-in-peril cliffhanger that is as much a part of Doctor Who as the Daleks. Count me among the Whovians now pining for the next issue of this ongoing series.