Written by Nick Abadzis | Art by Iolanda Zanfardino | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
Every month when I sit down to read this title I hope will it to grab me and make me like it more than I do. For me it has consistently been just ‘ok’, partly because of the by the numbers writing and partly because of the all-ages, not really suitable for this title art. Whereas some of the other Who titles have really upped their game, or have always been at the top of it, this has for me been the runt of the litter. It’s not that Nick Abadzis is a bad writer, or that he doesn’t ‘get’ David Tennant’s Doctor (he clearly does, as some of the dialogue shows) but something just hasn’t been clicking for me up to now.
This issue was part 2 of the ‘The Wishing Well Witch’, in which The Doctor, companion Gabby, and her friend Cindy had ended up in the village of Dewsbury, in modern day England, currently hosting a paranormal book fair. Unfortunately the local stories of a witch in the local wishing well prove to be partly true, as something is certainly down there and affecting the local inhabitants. A always, The Doctor getting involved proves both good and bad. Good in that he is obviously an expert who can sort out pretty much any situation, bad in that things usually get worse with The Doctor involved before they get better.
After a brief rescue of Cindy at the beginning, The Doctor realises the ‘witch’ is actually an alien entity, not only that but a confused alien entity, and not only that but actually a composite being made up of many (no doubt confused) entities. The entity hasn’t so much been attacking the locals as trying to take pieces from their minds to replace ones that are missing in itself, something The Doctor realises as he tries to placate rather than assault. The Doctor discovers the entities are children who were sent through a time vortex against their will and ended up on Earth. This is obviously bad enough, but to his horror he realises the vortex is the Untempered Schism, a time vortex on Gallifrey that functions as a test for Time Lord initiates. The vortex links back to ancient Gallifrey…but who threw them in?
This was a good issue for my money, well scripted, purposeful and ending with that most traditional of Doctor Who victories, the pyrrhic one. Abadzis showed what he can do here by taking a sub-Hammer film haunted well premise and turning it around to become a sci-fi story, but also one that proved to be very personal for The Doctor. Dialogue was strong, though with a little less humour than we are used to, and the pace never let up. Now that’s more like it.
The art is still a little bone of contention. The good news from my point of view was that artist Eleonora Carlini was not on drawing duties this issue, the bad news that replacement Iolanda Zanfardino draws in a very similar style. Maybe slightly less cartoony, but too many times David Tennant looked about 18 at the most, pretty much the same age as his companions; let’s get a series of all-ages Teen Doctor books out and be done with it.
I enjoyed this issue on two levels. Firstly, it read well in its own right but, more importantly, by story’s end it became clear this was just a prologue for a darker story that would be deeply personal for The Doctor, involving Gallifrey and his people. The book has meandered previously but is now on solid footing.
If we could just sort that art out I’d be a happy man.
Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #2.9 is out now from Titan Comics