Titan's Tenth Doctor Comic - Advance Review!

You know, being in the blogging "business", I often get requests to review things that fall somewhere in my wheelhouse. I don't often accept, simply because that's not really what I want to do with my space/time... wait, did I just say space-time?! Yep, sometimes I am sent something so entirely in my wheelhouse, I have no choice but to jump on the occasion. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to...
I opened my "mailbox" this week and found advance preview issues of Titan's new Doctor Who comics. Any sadness over losing the last IDW series - which was frankly quite fun - was quickly dispelled and I vowed to review (with minimal plot spoilage) both new #1s. Today, the Tenth Doctor series. Tomorrow, the Eleventh. Both books come out next Wednesday, these reviews should give you ample notice. So we ready? Allons-y!

"Revolutions of Terror"
Writer: Nick Abadzis (known mostly for 2000 A.D. strips, he's done some relevant comics work for Doctor Who Magazine)
Artist: Elena Casagrande, with Michele Pasta (Casagrande has worked on Suicide Risk, Hack/Slash and Angel)

First, placement in the canon. Not surprisingly, these stories occur after Donna has left, and because she's still in the Doctor's mind, I'd say we're before The Next Doctor.

Second, the companion. Yes, both series introduce new companions, and for Ten, that's Gabrielle "Gabby" Gonzalez, a Brooklyn girl of Mexican extraction (she's a first generation American) who's been roped into working for her father's two businesses at the cost of her own interests. Obviously, she needs to want more from life, that's a key ingredient for a companion.
The first issue unfolds a lot like the new series pilot, "Rose" did. We're squarely with Gabby and her family, with the Doctor eventually intersecting their lives, as he tracks the "supernatural" shenanigans affecting them (everything from ghostly hallucinations to laundromat typhoons to monsters in the subway) on the eve of the Mexican Day of the Dead. So we get to know the companion quite well before the Doctor ever offers her his hand, and she passes that interview process with flying colors. She's smart and dutiful, bored out of her skull, is quick on her feet, and has an extended family that ensures the book can follow in RTD's footsteps. The Gonzalez family, with all its expectations heaped on overachieving Gabby, is closest to Martha's, perhaps, but its circumstances are very different. Martha was never required to work for the family business! What happens when Gabby takes a holiday? I'm sure we'll find out, just as we'll find out why various horrors are being visited on latino New Yorkers. And one somber note: If this is right after Donna left, and the Doctor spends the Year of Specials telling everyone he travels alone now, what is Gabby's final fate? That inference alone makes me want to see where Titan will be taking this series.

A few words on the art, which I find delightful: Elena Casagrande has a soft pencil and excels at expressive faces and body language; this slow (yet incident-filled) set-up really plays to her strengths. Her characters have large eyes that make us care about them, and a realistic look (body types, locations) that grounds to stories in the real world as it might have been shown on TV, with no slavish photo-referenced likenesses which can be the bane of licensed comics. Her Tennant could look a bit more like the real thing, and gets better through the issue, but I don't care about perfect likenesses, so long as the story's good. And this one shows a lot of promise.

Bonus content! You get a bit more bang for your buck with these issues. This one includes a vaguely humorous Sontaran one-pager (I welcome these extras), and a special code for Doctor Who Legacy players to add Gabrielle to their collection! I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds pretty exciting!

So there you have it, folks. A nice start to a new era of Doctor Who comics, with a promising new companion (who couldn't have easily been done on TV given her nationality) and a story that feels pretty packed despite the fact it's not a done-in-one. It comes out July 23rd, give it a shot.

And the Eleventh Doctor book? Come back here tomorrow to see what I thought.


Gordon Dymowski said...

Re: Adding Companion to Doctor Who legacy....

DW:L is a mobile game that allows you to assemble teams of Doctors and companions to fight various aliens. (Think BEJEWELED mixed with RPG). You can "buy" companions via an "time crystals" (which you can earn via game play or plunk down money), and every so often, Tiny Rebel Games (the developer) provides freebies for cheap players.

So providing a companion (who would have an in-game skill) is really kinda cool for hardcore Legacy players....like me :)

Siskoid said...

That's awesome!

I just don't have very much time for computer gaming, and I could see myself getting rather addicted to anything Doctor Who-related... which is why I haven't inquired before.


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