Written by Cavan Scott | Art by Cris Bolson | Published by Titan Comics
Is the Ninth Doctor just tricky to write? You would think that the relative lack of history for this incarnation would be a good thing, allowing the writer a little bit more freedom with their scripts than you would get for example with the Tom Baker incarnation. In general, though, the opposite has been true. The lack of a firm timeline and set of opponents often results in weak storylines and a lack of that Who magic in general. Additionally of course, The Ninth Doctor does not have quite the same richness of character that many other incarnations do, he lacks a little quirkiness. Let’s face it, he’s harder to write full stop.
The last two arcs have been decent enough, if not particularly memorable in the long term. You know a little something’s missing when the companions are often more interesting than the central character too. Last issue saw the sad loss of Captain Jack, off to track down some of his missing past, so The Doctor is now travelling with reluctant TARDIS-fellows Rose and UNIT operative Tara. After the shenanigans in Seventeenth Century Brazil, last issue left us with something of a bombshell. Not only had The Doctor been arrested, but he had been arrested for murder. In the 53rd Century. Bad enough, but throw in the fact he was accused of murdering companion Tara Mishra herself, and you have an intriguing mystery.
Made even more intriguing by the beginning of this issue, when Rose arrives at a 53rd Century high security rehabilitation unit, Hesguard, as an ‘Examiner’. The Doctor is being held there as Patient 280, and Rose is just in time to witness his rehabilitation. The facility has a unique ‘cure’ in that subjects are purged of their hatred and anger, all their negative emotions are fed into a ‘sin-eater’, creating a monstrous entity of pure negative emotion. Rose manages to get some time alone with a badly hurting Doctor, and it turns out he deliberately got himself admitted there to investigate what was going on. Unfortunately for him, he seems to have underestimated just what it was. Rose, of course, is there under fake credentials and it doesn’t take long for the facility director to realise this. Rose is arrested, but just as The Doctor’s sin-eater goes on something of a rampage….or should I say Doctors, as the hatred and fear of all nine incarnations are manifesting, making it incredibly powerful.
Now that’s more like the Dr Who we know and love. Pure science fiction, great set-up, clever ideas and good dialogue. The one negative is that again The Doctor was somewhat sidelined in his own book, with Rose being the main character. That aside, definitely one of the stronger stories so far for this title. The art, by Cris Bolson, was perfect for this tale. The very clean lines suited the futuristic setting, and he draws great figures. I liked his Rose and the Sin-Eater/Doctor visualisation especially. Textbook layouts, but that was what suited this story the most. Nice work.
Consistency on this book has not been an issue, but raising the level from fair to good and higher has proven tricky. This issue has raised that bar up, no doubt. A lot of classic Who elements are in the mix, a nice little cliffhanger at the end, and an interesting premise.
If we can get more of this on a consistent basis, we’ll be very happy.
Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #11 is out now from Titan Comics.