13th Apr2016

‘Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor #1’ Review (new ongoing)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Cavan Scott | Art by Adriana Melo | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp


Although by no means perfect, and admittedly coloured by more than a little nostalgia, I enjoyed the recent 9th Doctor mini-series (that’s the Christopher Eccleston incarnation of The Doctor of course) and am happy to see it did well enough to earn an ongoing series. The greatest compliment I could pay it, indeed to any of the many Who titles, is that it felt like the TV show, the characters and story were spot on, and so I am more than happy to see scripter Cavan Scott return to continue his take on the character. We do get a new artist though in Adriana Melo but hey, a little fresh blood never hurt anyone.

Writer Scott is pretty lucky before even writing a word in that he has three excellent characters to use. Although the 9th Doctor is not one of the most defined, he has two of the strongest supporting characters in Who history in Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness. Jack supplies the early focus here, as the TARDIS receives a distress call from Captain Jack, even though he is standing in the TARDIS when they receive it. The Doctor narrows it down to a future time and place and they race to Gharusa Prime, only to find themselves in a place where one of the biggest shows on this world is Dr Who (who sings!), and also they run into his apparently number one fan. Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say.

Then to add to the general confusion, The Doctor turns up. The Doctor of this world of course, the Holovid star who is on a book tour as well apparently. A brief confrontational meeting of the two Doctors only serves up yet more confusion and mystery, resulting in ‘our’ Doctor and Captain Jack being arrested. Rose meanwhile tails Penny, this world’s Doctor’s Holovid show companion, and runs into the ‘other’ Doctor, who isn’t quite what Gharusa Prime thinks he is. Fans of the TV show will smile knowingly….nice cliffhanger Cavan Scott, well played.

Cavan Scott does a great job here parodying contemporary social media and tabloid fame, even parodying the Who fans themselves, but very affectionately and with a light touch, and intertwining that with several layers of genuine mystery. This little in-joke serves the main story, not the other way around, always the mark of a good writer. The story was more heavy on idea and concept than on actual substance admittedly, but it whizzed by at a fair pace and was fun to read. This incarnation of The Doctor is slightly more difficult to capture than most others, as he is deliberately a harder, less obviously eccentric (relatively speaking) character than say Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor, even Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor. Scott captures the nuances of Eccleston’s Doctor well, using his lighter in tone companions to play off against. It all works very well.

The art by Adriana Melo was a slightly mixed bag for me. On the plus side the likenesses of Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper were captured well, something of a necessity in making a Who book work. Captain Jack however was drawn too young for me, more Cadet Jack than Captain. All the facial expressions were excellent, I suspect a lot of photo reference and research was undertaken. The environments were rendered very nicely, and I liked the feel of motion between panels, any staticness could have adversely affected the flow of the story. The first rule for an artist is not to overshadow the script, the second to actually enhance the script, and Melo does succeed with both.

A great start to a three-parter that looks like being a lot of fun.

**** 4/5

Doctor Who: The 9th Doctor #1 is released today by Titan Comics


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