Traditionally, when the show’s been on the air, the “Doctor Who” official comic has been about the “current” Doctor. At the moment, that’s still Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, who departed the show last December, but whose successor (played by Peter Capaldi) won’t debut for another month or so. So when Titan Comics announced not only a series focusing on the Eleventh Doctor, but also “Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor,” I was a little surprised and intrigued. David Tennant’s Doctor was certainly very popular among newer fans, after all. But with this Doctor having departed the show four and a half years ago, is there room for an ongoing series starring him?
In many ways, Nick Abadzis’s script reminds me of the “Doctor Who: The New Adventures” series of novels that were published between 1991 and 1997. Like those books, Abadzis isn’t afraid to set the focus squarely on a new character — in this case the Mexican-American Gabriella — and have the issue follow her path through the story rather than the Doctor. He’s there, just in the periphery for the first issue; a cameo partway through, before finally stepping into the spotlight at the cliffhanger. The end result is a comic that definitely lets readers get a strong feel for Gabriella and the relationship she has with family and friends; we’re understanding the world that she lives in and how aliens (both friendly and dangerous types) will rock it to the core.
The plot, as a result, moves a little slowly in places, but that’s understandable. It’s a quiet first issue; there’s incursion at the start of the issue to grab our attention, and then all goes silent until it’s time to provide a good end-of-issue moment. With this being the first of a five-part story, it’s a reasonable pace and in many ways the prologue is over with the action about to kick into high gear.
Elena Casagrande provides the art (with what appears to be several additional people assisting, based on the credits), and it’s a nice style. It reminds me a bit of artists like Philip Bond, with clean faces but a slightly squarish, hard-edged corner on the figures. Casagrande’s at her best when drawing the family dramas here; I like the interactions that the regular, every-day people have under her pen. It’s the alien concepts that aren’t quiet clicking for me just yet; maybe when they’re firmly center stage they’ll look a bit more interesting, but right now for a visual medium with no budgetary concerns, they somehow manage to look cheap.
“Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor” #1 is off to a good start. If this story builds on the promise begun here, this opening storyline should be a lot of fun. For now, it’s a pleasant first issue, though, and that’s enough to stick around for part 2. All in all, the shift from IDW to Titan for publishing “Doctor Who” comics has not only gone smoothly, but it feels like a real increase in quality to boot.