Written by Nick Abadzis | Art by Giorgia Sposito | Published by Titan Comics
Quite the frustrating book for me this one. I continually struggle to enjoy it, but also continually will it on to make me change my mind. To make it worse, I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly doesn’t quite work. In comparison to other Who books, Nick Abadzis does write quite light scripts, in tone and sometimes content, and the art has generally been of the cartoony, all-ages type I am not a huge fan of. But, at the risk of triggering déjà vu again, let’s see if this issue can change my mind.
So The Doctor has been travelling with official companion Gabby Gonzalez, and unofficial companion Cindy Wu. Although the best of friends, adventuring in the TARDIS has strained their relationship a little, and they have certainly altered the Doctor-single companion dynamic. They had, that is, before Cindy was sucked into the Time Vortex by an entity that had disguised itself rather cheekily as a red TARDIS. Which was and is a pretty cool idea is it not. With Cindy needing rescuing, it’s all hands on deck, so friend Noobis also comes along for the ride.
The ride though, is brief, as the red TARDIS time-rams (another very cool idea) The Doctor’s TARDIS, knocking her out of the time stream into ancient China. Which is also where the red TARDIS crash landed, so a disguised Doctor, Gabby, and Noobis set off to find Cindy with a tracker. Curiously though, as the trio make their way across China, their tale is being told as a Chinese myth-like story by an old man to a young boy. If completely true, or somewhat exaggerated, the tale is told of The Doctor and his companions trying to get through a wall seemingly erected by their foe, and facing beasts of wind, fire, earth, woo, and metal.
This interesting development gets even more interesting when The Doctor meets with the old man telling the story, as their two storylines meet up. The old man is Father Wu Wei, a wise man of sorts, who recognises who The Doctor is, but sees and explains him in traditional Chinese magical terms. He explains that a while ago a stranger appeared whom they called the Red Jade General, and he produced an army from a red box. They built a wall around a town, and nobody has been seen, or in or out since. That obviously can’t be allowed, so a plan is hatched to try and get in there. The plan works, and Gabby infiltrates the enclosed village, locating Cindy and attempting to rescue her. But Cindy doesn’t want to be rescued. What’s more, Cindy doesn’t recognise her. What’s even more, is that there appears to be a few dozen Cindy’s walking around. What’s a girl to do?
Well this was more like it. I really enjoyed this. A well told story, cleverly linking the main narrative with traditional Chinese scroll style art, alternating all the while between the two. The Doctor has always been otherworldly, but giving him a mythological twist is great fun. Although not Giorgia Sposito’s biggest fan, the art here was not bad at all, and I did enjoy the design and art in the Chinese scroll parts. The art, which sometimes doesn’t look up to the task for deeper storylines, here looked perfectly at home, nicely in tune with the lighter style of this adventure.
Much better issue than quite I few I have read on this title, I genuinely enjoyed this and have high hopes for the next issue. Let’s hope this is the start of a Tenth Doctor renaissance.
Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #3.3 is out now from Titan Comics.