27th Apr2017

‘Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #3.4′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Nick Abadzis | Art by Giorgia Sposito, Arianna Florean | Published by Titan Comics

TENTH_DOCTOR_3_4_A

Ah, The Tenth Doctor. Simultaneously one of my favourite incarnations of The Doctor, and one of my least favourite Dr Who books. A little harsh perhaps, as objectively it is always a pretty decent quality book, but stacked up against the other Who books it tends to drop to the bottom of the pile for me quite consistently. I look forward to the times when writer Nick Abadzis can change my mind, and the beginning of a new story arc last month did just that. ‘Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth’ was inventive, interesting, and fun enough that this month’s issue wasn’t one of the last to read.

Last issue saw The Doctor, Gabby and Noobis (a memory wiped Anubis) end up in Ancient China. Cindy had been kidnapped by a red TARDIS (pretty cool, right?) that, after going through the Time Vortex ended up in early China. While looking for Cindy they gained assistance from wise man Father Wu Wei, who tells them of the arrival of the Red Jade General who, with an army from a box, built a wall around a town and nobody since has been in or out. Well that’s not on , so Gabby sneaks inside to find Cindy. Find her she does, but Cindy doesn’t recognise her. Or I should say the Cindy’s don’t recognise her, as there seems to be hundreds of Cindy’s walking around.

Gabby soon realises, after talking to the multiple Cindy’s, that they were all cloned to serve the Red Jade General. They serve as his soldiers, his builders, his servants, his everything. Quite the invasion of personal space for poor Cindy, the original of whom is still nowhere to be seen. The Doctor also gets in, though unaware the General is both aware of his breach and has found and taken the TARDIS. As The Doctor learns more, he realises that the General is an Auton-like intelligence who has moved on from manipulating matter like plastic to organic matter, as in people. That, combined with the fact he was happy to create a slave race and has the basics of time travel, means he needs to be taken care of quickly.

Gabby finally locates Cindy, or Muwu as the clones call her. Alive, not in great shape, but very angry. The Doctor has also found the General, a hive mind it seems, and one that is adept at copying but not at free-thinking. It equates efficiency with learning from copying, but as The Doctor points out, this is also its greatest weakness. This copying extends to the General becoming an uncanny red version of The Doctor himself, and the reveal that the Cindy’s are not true clones but actually the townspeople themselves, their dna rewritten with Cindy’s. As always, The Doctor’s interaction with an enemy is as much about buying time to implement a plan as it is to actually talk with them. The Doctor turns the General’s arrogance back on him, exiling him back in space and time.

As near enjoyable a wrap up as the first issue of this arc. I loved the fact Abadzis had The Doctor win by turning the opponents weaknesses back on themselves, by inspiring resistance, and by pretending to be in a position of weakness rather than one of strength. Classic Who tropes, and written and delivered well. I also enjoyed the mix of the story with Chinese fable, gave it all a nice extra dimension. The art by Giorgia Sposito was as you would expect, clean and efficient with good layouts and nice flow. If I was being harsh I could say the art lacked a little extra spark, but I like how she does David Tennant’s hair so we’ll move on.

Good wrap up to a good story. Can’t ask for much more than that.

***½  3.5/5

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