01st Sep2017

‘Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #3.9′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Alex Paknadel | Art by I.N.J. Culbard | Published by Titan Comics

Eleventh_Doctor_3_9_Cover-A

All change on the Number Eleven express, as the Eleventh Doctor welcomes back sometime writer Alex Paknadel, who more than knows his way around a good Who story, and more-regular-than-not artist I.N.J Culbard. The new arc is called ‘Strange Loops’, the old team are The Doctor, companion Alice, and will-he-or-won’t-he-destroy-the-universe project The Sapling. The Sapling has been the connecting tissue between the different story arcs this season, with The Doctor attempting to instill enough humanity and self-awareness into him to prevent him becoming the biological super weapon he was created to be. So far so good, but last issue’s shenanigan’s at a fair resulted in The Sapling dealing with some new, and troubling, ideas.

This issue starts with a classic TARDIS tumbling through space page, and The Doctor realising that something is slightly off. He knows The Sapling took some of their memories when they first encountered it, but has noticed memories since then disappearing, which can’t be The Sapling. He’s beginning to realise there may be a more dangerous foe at work behind the scenes…but is then distracted by a time vortex energy reading from a distant planet, Zoline. So we’re off there instead.

I’d imagine The Doctor rather enjoys visiting Zoline as they call him ‘The God in the Box’. Great name.  Or at least used to, as there are two complications this time. One, although they remember him well, he can’t actually remember ever being there, although The Sapling with those stolen memories does. Secondly, there is now terrible pollution, unbreathable air, acid rain, overdevelopment, the whole works. Considering that thirty years previously the Zoline had been a primitive people living in tree houses in harmony with nature, something has gone very wrong. That something seems to be something, or someone, called The Golden Triangle.

Who they, muses The Doctor? Judging from the brief description he gets, and the generous amounts of time vortex energy in the air, and the advanced tech, he begins to suspect Time Lord involvement. This seems even more likely when he spots a Gallifreyan design on a building. All very odd…is what The Doctor is still thinking when the top of the building comes off and nearly squashes him. Time tremors, apparently, and getting worse all the time. The Doctor, Alice, and The Sapling all gain entry to the building, and to The Doctor’s surprise come face to face with what seems like another Time Lord. Can it be? Is it a trick?

This was great fun  from start to finish, with Alex Paknadel constructing a fun story that taps into Who mythology nicely. Alongside this we had great character dialogue, nice interplay between Alice and The Doctor, and the continuation of The Sapling subplot, which as we know will come to a head in the very near future. I like the way with The Eleventh Doctor that no matter what he comes up against, no matter how serious or surprising, he still keeps his humour as both shield and weapon. Shield in the sense his humour keeps those around him calm in the face of danger, and a weapon in the sense it allows everyone to constantly underestimate him. Paknadel writes him in that vein nicely.

The art, by Culbard, I am used to now but have a bit of an indifferent view on it. I don’t dislike it, in fact I really like the straightforward page layouts and panel placements, but I find it a little bland. A little too cartoony at times perhaps. That being said, Culbard’s depiction of The Doctor is solid, and he makes the cartoony Doctor work nicely. If any Doctor lends himself well to cartoony, it’s Eleven. The colours, by Triona Farrell, are nicely done, especially the muted colours on Zoline.

Another Time Lord? Wishful thinking on The Doctor’s part? Wish I had a TARDIS so I could read the next issue right now.

***½  3.5/5

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