In Review: Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #1

The visuals aren't as good as the story, but I'll continue to follow this Doctor's adventures.

The covers: An appropriate eight illustrated covers for fans to collect, plus one blank sketch cover is also available. Alice X. Zhang puts her mark on this Doctor by doing the A cover. It’s like her previous work on other Doctor Who number ones, with a good likeness of the Doctor from the waist up, holding his sonic screwdriver, against a multicolored starfield. If readers liked her previous work, they’ll enjoy this. The B, however, was more to my liking. It’s a photo cover of Paul McGann who’s been superimposed over a cliff residence. It’s a very cool image, with him looking focused on what his screwdriver is telling him. Titan has done an exceptional job with these created photo covers and this quality has me hoping they’ll continue to do so. The Doctor is standing in a field of glass in a strong breeze with the TARDIS just behind him on the C cover. This illustration by Warren Pleece is a nice dramatic piece, but there’s too much of the setting; I’d rather see it more closely pulled in to the Doctor. The Books A Million Exclusive cover is a sensational piece by Mariano Laclaustra. It’s a bust shot of the Doctor and it looks great. The likeness is strong and the coloring is very well done. The Who Shop Exclusive is by Rachel Stott and Hi-Fi. This cover has the Doctor reading the paper overlooking the Thames. Hanging over the bench is the Fourth Doctor’s iconic scarf. I am a huge fan of Stott and Hi-Fi, so this is the perfect combination for me, and I do admit to liking the Doctor when he’s in front of famous structures. The Forbidden Planet/Jetpack Exclusive is a very clever and exceedingly well done cover. Against a blurred photograph of a street scene, the Doctor and new companion Josephine Day walk down the street in the cold, happy to be one with each other. For such a freezing setting, the warmth that Simon Myers has created in their expressions is priceless. The Alien Entertainment cover is also a photo cover and it, too, is a terrific cover. This features a shot of McGann from the waist up looking just a bit angry, with an explosion of yellow and gold behind him. I bought the B cover because it was a photo cover, but I just might have to go online to get this one as well. The Long Island Who Con Exclusive cover is by Matthew Dow Smith, who is doing an exceptional job on the illustrations for IDW’s The X-Files, does a sweet illustration of a gigantic Doctor standing over Long Island. Nice moody piece that I might also have to track down. There’s also a sketch cover for those wanting to track down for an artist to do an illustration on or for the creators of this issue to sign. Overall grades: A A-, B A+, C B, Books A-, Who Shop A, Forbidden A+, Alien A+, Long A, and Sketch B

The story: “The Pictures of Josephine Day” by George Mann is a light adventure story designed to introduce the reader to this incarnation of the Doctor and companion Josephine Day. As Josephine is painting in a cottage she hears an unusual WWOORRRP sound outside. The Doctor appears in the hall, introduces himself, and learns that she’s taken over the abandoned structure because it was falling apart and no one was using it. The home belonged to a previous Doctor (which was a very cool shout out to Who fans), and he’s come looking for something. He’s very glowing in his like for her paintings, whose subjects may look familiar to long time fans. Their conversation is interrupted by a neighbor who says she’s been attacked. Hearing it was a monster spurs the Doctor to have the women take him back to the scene of the crime. What the monsters are is easy to conclude, yet how they came to be is much more clever. How the monsters are defeated is a wonderful Who moment that is outstanding. The last two pages have a neat conceit for the Doctor and Josephine to go off on adventures, and off they go. A fun first issue, that lacks the overwhelming dread of apocalypse for the earth or the universe, and for that I’m much appreciative. It’s good to have fun back in Who! Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork of Emma Vieceli was very unexpected. First, it is very stylized. It looks unlike anything I’ve seen in any Who comic in years. This is because the style harkens to the design of the 1980s: the linework is very thin with the characters looking very smooth. This reminds me somewhat of Collen Doran’s early work. I’m not used to seeing an version of the Doctor drawn in this fashion and it took some mental adjusting to go with it. Vieceli’s version of the Doctor has the hair and garb of McGann, but not the face. She also uses some vertical rectangles to show the transition of scenes, which reminds me of Patrick Nagel’s insertion of shapes into his illustrations. Her layout of a page is well done, with the introduction of the two leads nicely done, with Josephine looking the best of the two. I really liked the inclusion of the footprints walking across Page 9. Her backgrounds are very loose, when done, relying on colors to fill the spaces. Readers’ love of this artwork will depend on how much they like this version of McGann. Overall grade: B-

The colors: The 80’s vibe was also due to the bright pastel colors of Hi-Fi. Granted, the story had a thematic need for such bright colors, but I loved them because I grew up in the 80s and that’s how I like my colors: big and bright. Josephine’s hair is gorgeous in its many colors and her painting are beautiful due to their colors, such as on Pages 3, 16, and 17. My favorite page is 14 because of the the pale mustard background that allows the characters to pop out from the setting, the off violet in the fourth panel that really highlights the Doctor’s eyes, Josephine’s hair in the fifth panel, and the excellent reds in the sixth. The background colors are also particularly sharp on the final page. An excellent job. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, and next issue’s teaser are provided by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. All are done well, and I’m always appreciative when letterers get to do speech with italics so that the reader can better hear the characters’ voices, which Titan allowed them to do. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fun story, which is more than welcome in a Doctor Who tale, but the art might leave some fans fuming. The visuals aren’t as good as the story, but I’ll continue to follow this Doctor’s adventures. Because of the visuals, I’m going to tilt my grade lower than where the average should have it. Overall grade: B+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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