Written by George Mann | Art by Emma Vieceli | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
I found issue 1 of this series a mixed blessing. Very happy that the Eighth Doctor is getting a bit more ‘screen time’, as he is certainly an incarnation that is ripe for development, most of what we know about him coming from snatches of information here and there. Not quite so happy by what I felt was a slightly lacklustre first issue. In today’s tough market first issues need to be eye-catching, they need to hook you in to stay for the rest of the story. I never quite felt that ambition, and as a reader my return for issue 2 would have been for the novelty value of it being an Eighth Doctor adventure , not for the high quality of the story. Novelty, of course, soon wears off.
After last month’s introduction, The Doctor and new companion Josie leave the confines of Earth for a foray into space. A good move in my book, open up that playbook and make use of the huge Who mythology out there, or at least create some bits of your own. From the start this story started to hit all the right story beats, it felt like a honest to goodness Who adventure just as the first issue had struggled to do so. We have the quest (travelling to Lumin’s World to investigate the coordinates from last issue), the companion in danger (Josie literally at risk from the sky falling down, as crystal shards rain down), friendly alien race, nasty alien race, and The Doctor’s absolute refusal to ever back away from upholding his vision of morality and goodness.
I say ‘his vision’ as we know that The Doctor has, and does, make very questionable choices sometimes, ones that can see the destruction of planets and sacrifice of good people. I assume George Mann’s focus on The Doctor’s dislike of war is deliberate, for two main reasons. One, the character throughout all his incarnations has done all he can to avert warfare, having an almost pathological hatred of it. Second, we know what this Doctor does not, that he will make the conscious decision to regenerate into the War Doctor, the soldier/ warrior incarnation who fought the Time War, and who personifies the sometime self-hatred of the Ninth Doctor onward.
Although not as strong a book as the other Who books at the moment, this second issue was an improvement on the first. This Doctor’s main character trait is a sort of innocence, a niceness, an old fashioned charm that the other incarnations seem to lack, and Mann imbues him with that nicely. His relationship with Josie was only lightly developed but seems promising, and he has found his own voice. Still light in tone, I would like a bit more depth and substance, but am more hopeful that will come in time.
Art-wise, not my favourite work. The lightness of tone suits the lightness of the story, but seems a little too superficial for my taste. Technically fine, panel layouts fine, but lacking that certain something. The Paul McGann likeness is also very tenuous at best, which detracts a little, and the colours seem quite washed out.
I want this book to be an essential purchase for the average fan out there, but it is not yet even an essential book for a Who fan who is not a total completist. Improving, but still lacks that magic spark. Maybe next time.
Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #2 is out now from Titan Comics