I’ve been a fan of “Doctor Who” since the 1980s. I’ve had a lot of time and energy invested in the show, to put it mildly. And I will be the first to stand up and say that the majority of “Doctor Who” comics in the past decade have been sub par. Sure, there are some exceptions here and there, but it’s actually been a little surprising how few “Doctor Who” comics have seemed to actually “get it.” Happily, Tony Lee and Al Davison do just that in the first issue of IDW’s new ongoing “Doctor Who” comic.
Set in the midst of the current “Doctor Who” specials after the end of last year’s season, Lee plunges the Doctor into 1920s Hollywood, with a two-fold mission. First, he’d promised his companion Donna that he’d meet a certain actor from this time period. Second, there’s a temporal anomaly nearby, a static point in space and time. And that means it’s up to the Doctor to figure out what’s going on and put things to rights.
I’m impressed with how well Lee nails David Tennant’s high energy and patter on the comic page. It’s not an easy thing to capture in a static medium, but Lee’s script makes the Doctor sound like himself, forever moving and rambling on even as he accomplishes half a dozen things in the blink of an eye. It never feels forced or artificial, though, something that many other attempts to write for Tennant’s Doctor have missed. Lee uses the 1920s setting as more than just window-dressing, too, coming up with an inventive reason for both the hero and villains to have ended up in this particular place and time. I did have to wince, though, at the use of “Archie Maplin” instead of Charlie Chaplin. It comes across as forced, and while I understand the need to try and avoid any sort of lawsuit, it rubs the wrong way, especially since the character’s origin is hard to ignore.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Davison draw a comic, but he’s been sorely missed. From his own “The Spiral Cage” to other people’s comics like “Teknophage,” “The Dreaming,” and “Vermillion,” Davison has always had a distinct and beautiful art style. I love how he draws flapper Emily Winter the most of all, here, with her looking both sultry and innocent, if that’s even possible. The Doctor’s likeness is good too, coming across as clearly Tennant while not feeling stiff or traced off of model cards. Davison really helps bring Lee’s script to life, not only in the action but also the old-time setting. There’s a lot of attention to detail on the outfits, buildings, and situations of the era, and I hope Davison sticks around for a while because it’s great to see him drawing comics again.
This is a fun start to IDW’s new “Doctor Who” series, and with 2009 only containing a handful of specials until the show returns in Spring 2010, it’s the perfect time for this comic to launch. For fans of the show eager for something until “The Waters of Mars” airs this fall, look no further than here. It’s good stuff.