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Comic Book Review
The Ninth Doctor is back – and this time he’s ongoing! The new series kicks off a new era and a new mission for a much-loved TARDIS team, as the Doctor, Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness pick up a mysterious transmission. Tracking down its source could help Jack uncover why his mind was wiped when he was a Time Agent. Along the way, they’ll encounter old friends and foes as well as startling new faces – but the first step takes the Doctor to a planet where he is, inexplicably, a celebrity…!
Following the success of Titan’s five-issue Ninth Doctor mini-series, Number Nine has been granted his own continuing title, together with his popular companions Rose and Captain Jack.
I admit I had my reservations about the mini-series, which I found to be rather slow-moving, with its single story stretched out across five instalments. Returning writer Cavan Scott has addressed this matter – the new storyline, Doctormania, will run for just three issues, and the events of this opening episode unfold at a breakneck pace. It begins with our heroes escaping from the jaws of a ravenous monster, only to be confronted by a mystery from Jack’s past, which in turn leads them to another puzzle, revolving around the Doctor, on the planet Gharusa Prime – all within the space of four pages! As the Time Lord himself puts it, “No hanging about.”
The art by incoming illustrator Adriana Melo is highly dynamic, involving lots of running and other dramatic poses. Perhaps we could call this style Melo-dramatic. Her likenesses of the regulars are good, without being slavishly dependent upon reference photographs.
There are shades of the episode Bad Wolf, as the Doctor finds that he has somehow become a television star. He is quickly recognised by the delightful new character of Yani, a purple-skinned, three-eyed alien who is nevertheless immediately recognisable as a squee-ing fangirl, beaming with adoration as she asks for a selfie. Unlike Bad Wolf, the cultural references here are a little ahead of their time for Series 1 – though the word selfie was around in 2005, it was not as widely known or used as it is today.
Amusingly out of place allusions to Doctor Who fandom and mythology abound, as Yani announces that she has been a member of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society “like for-ever”, new and more formidable versions of the Chumblies arrive on the scene (well, they couldn’t have been any less formidable, could they?), and Gharusa Prime’s version of the Doctor pilots a flying car that will be very familiar to Third Doctor fans. An on-screen clip of Gharusa Prime’s Doctor with his companion Penny cleverly echoes a pivotal moment of crisis from Genesis of the Daleks, though the stakes couldn’t be much lower. “We’re talking about your fans,” argues Penny, “the most important people in your life. You must sing for them. You must complete your concert for the fan-club.” This speech mirrors the rhythm of Sarah Jane’s plea to the Fourth Doctor in Genesis: “We’re talking about the Daleks, the most evil creatures ever invented. You must destroy them. You must complete your mission for the Time Lords.”
We’re talking about a comic, the most exciting issue ever published (or thereabouts). You must read it. You must complete your collection from Titan.
One issue in, and I’m a fan already. Or to put it another way: squee!