Written by Cavan Scott | Art by Blair Shedd, Rachel Scott | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 128pp
Although not my favourite incarnation, I have a lot of affection for Christopher Eccleston’s all too short run as the 9th Doctor. After years without a show, when Dr Who looked like it was permanently mothballed, Eccleston took on the role and made it his own. The previous descent into silliness was replaced with a more serious tone, an eccentric Doctor yes, but one you knew could kill if he needed to. Eccleston’s performance made the relaunch work, and paved the way for the following seasons. That season also introduced us to two of the most important characters in Dr Who mythology, companion Rose and Captain Jack, and it is fitting that this collection features all three together again.
Originally published as a 5 issue storyline, Weapons of Past Destruction sees Cavan Scott craft a story that has plenty of nods to the past, not least because we are handily told it slots nicely between ‘The Doctor Dances’ and ‘Boom Town’, episodes 10 and 11 of Season 1. Scott also cannily uses that old ‘retroactive continuity’ thing whereby references can now be made to things that hadn’t actually been mentioned during that actual season that Eccleston was The Doctor, but are now established continuity. Like that tiny plot point that his immediate predecessor was actually The War Doctor. One thing I especially noticed throughout was that Scott has a great ear for the dialogue of these characters, and perfectly captures the banter between The Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack. If you think of this as an actual episode of that season you won’t go wrong.
The hook that draws us in this time is that a trip to The Doctor’s favourite planet is ruined by the fact it has disappeared, and further ruined by Rose, Jack and The Doctor being captured by some aliens before a hasty escape is ruined when Rose doesn’t make it , disappearing into a vortex. A frenetic, fun opening that hits the ground running and draws us back in to this team and reminds us why we loved them in the first place. Rose is rescued of course, and the three of them find themselves investigating The Union, taking in a black market weapons fair, The Fluren Temporal Bazaar, while they’re at it. The Doctor is less than impressed to find Gallifreyan tech on sale, as he still believes at this point he is the sole survivor of Gallifrey.
At the end of the day the main story almost unimportant. The main story, for what it is worth, is thematically tied to the Time War, an event still quite raw for The Doctor as he sees yet again two races fighting, The Union especially interested in how a Time Lord is still alive. The real joy comes from seeing The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack in a new adventure, seeing the interaction, the comedy, the action. It all just feels right, perfectly executed. The story itself is more an excuse for Scott to showcase what makes this group work, with plenty of action for Rose and Jack, plenty of philosophical moments for a still mentally fragile post-Time War Doctor. It’s a read in one sitting type of story.
The art was something I was a little distracted by, as it was pretty enough to look at but I never felt the look of the characters was quite right. Facially not bad, just a bit too youthful, which irritated me probably more than it should have. That aside, the art flowed well, captured the many assorted locales and characters nicely, and made sure the action was never too confusing.
Characters and nostalgia were the main reason I enjoyed this, not the actual story itself, but it all still worked. The retroactive adding on of the Time War baggage to the Ninth Doctor never felt forced, and in fact gave nice depth to proceedings.
On balance, a very good book
Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor Vol.1 – Weapons of Past Destruction is out now from Titan Comics