In Review: Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1

Having this Doctor in a monthly book is like having a best friend re-enter your life.

The covers: Nine covers to collect for this Ninth Doctor’s debut as a monthly. The Art is by Shea Standefer, which has a bust shot of the Doctor considering the reader seriously. This right hand is held out, holding his sonic screwdriver, which is lit boldly in electric blue. Behind the Doctor is a swirling miasma of orange colored cosmos. Very nice. The B is the one I had to purchase because it’s a created photo cover by Will Brooks for the Subscription cover. It has the ninth ‘Doctor Who’ Chris Eccleston smiling before several cellphones which are being held by all kinds of hands to take his picture. This is an excellent foreshadowing of things to come in this issue. The C is by interior artist Adriana Melo, and it’s fantastic. In fact, that word is at the bottom of this illustration: Fantastic! It’s a flawless illustration of a gleeful Doctor, with Rose to his right and Jack to his left, who’s wearing his WWII uniform. This should be a poster, print, and tee shirt. The D is another exceptionally delightful cover by Question No. 6 showing a grinning Doctor surrounded by several symbols that he encountered during his run on television. Blair Shedd is responsible for the E cover, this one highlighting the technology of this Doctor and his companions: the Doctor with his screwdriver, Jack with his vortex manipulator, and Rose brandishing her glowing bracelet. Good idea, but not very strong character work. The Alien Entertainment Variant cover is another photo cover, this one featuring Eccleston and Billie Piper coming out of the TARDIS into a red desert world, complete with dragons. Very cool. The Diamond UK cover is also by Blair Shedd, but is a much more superior piece. Done in a similar fashion to Marvel Comics’ Action Figure Variant Covers, this is made to resemble an action figure and its packaging featuring the Ninth Doctor. Absolutely awesome and a must buy. The final art cover is the AOD Collectibles cover by Simon Myers showing the Doctor dressed in white playing “Imagine” on a piano. The image does not look like Eccleston at all, and I fail to see this cover’s focus. The final cover is a blank Sketch Cover for one to take to a convention to get their favorite artist to create a one-of-a-kind image. Overall grades: A B, B A+, C A+, D A+, E C-, Alien Entertainment A-, Diamond UK A+, AOD Collectibles D, and Sketch C+

The story: The first issue of this ongoing ‘Doctor Who’ series opens with the Doctor, Rose, and Jack doing what they do best: running away from an hostile alien. In this case, it’s an monstrous centipede-worm with many legs, teeth, and eyes, and it looks to ingest our heroes. The three are lucky to make it into the TARDIS in time since the Doctor fumbles with his key to gain entrance. All seems well since they’re in the vehicle, but the TARDIS is then swallowed by the creature. Luckily, the Doctor sets it safely on its way. They haven’t been in motion for long before the ship’s beacons have picked something up: a recording of Jack from his past when he was a Time Agent. He’s had his mind wiped from that time, and he’d like to find out why. The Doctor has the same idea and sends them to 3764 on Gharusa Prime. When they exit they find something unexpected: a giant billboard featuring the smiling Time Lord, proclaiming, “Gharusa Prime Welcomes The Doctor.” Complicating things is the appearance of fan of the Doctor. This teenage alien would rival any fan of the Doctor for her love and knowledge of all things Whovian. This character is a chock full of fun lines to baffle, confuse, and irritate the heroes, with Rose’s comment being the best. Writer Cavan Scott then has the Doctor meet a group of somewhat familiar villains who are attacked by a familiar face. “Doctormania” is a slick bit of writing that pokes the fanbase of Who without being mean; Pages 15 and 16 cannot be too far from the truth for any actor who’s been involved with this series. With the males caught in a pickle, it’s up to Rose to get some answers, and the final page of the book brings back a famous alien race that the Ninth Doctor introduced to the world. This was fun and funny. Overall grade: A 

The art: Chris Eccleston’s Doctor Who was either confused, upset, or giddy with joy on television. Artist Adriana Melo captures all of these aspects in her visuals, starting with him being befuddled by the TARDIS’s beacons going off. When he’s shown in close ups he looks brilliant, such as on Pages 4, 6, 10, and 12. His scenes with the overly fanatical fan Yani are wonderful, and this little alien’s reactions to seeing her favorite personality are great fun: her huge mouth and big eye mirror the over emphasized style of manga, but fit seamlessly into the Whoverse. Jack is also well drawn, especially when he’s worried about something that’s causing them trouble, but Melo’s Rose is simply smashing. Her eyes are wonderful and her hair fantastic. Her final panel on Page 19 is perfection. The villains of the issue first appear on Page 8 and their design is perfectly in line for what the Doctor must encounter on this world. The vehicle that is in the first panel on 10 is a terrific throwback to a similar transport from the 1970s that will make fans of Jon Pertwee’s ‘Doctor Who’ smile knowingly. The large panel on 15 is the inspiration for the B cover of this book and Melo makes it a hoot given the number of characters, what they’re doing, and the expressions on all of their faces. The largest panel on the final page is the quintessential cliffhanger that would make little ones hide behind their couches if this were a broadcast. Melo’s characters look great and her aliens are excellent. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Thanks to the terrific work by Mateus Lopes on this issue, Melo’s artwork explodes off the page. Doctor Who should never be a dark comic; the colors should be bright and bold. Lopes does exactly this, even on the opening pages set on a dark planet. The creature is a deep red, highlighting it for the reader, but the characters stand out on the page, with their skin colors and shirts making them them the focuses. The interiors of the TARDIS are in its classic rust colors (Hard to believe that this TARDIS is now considered a “classic” since it seems like just yesterday it first appeared on television), but the characters stand out before it, with their skin, again, and hair colors, especially Rose’s, making them easy to make out. The purple on Yani and her people make them instantly alien, but also gives them a soothing quality. There’s some really good work with blues done for telescreen images, and the sounds are large with the bright colors Lopes gives them. The greens on the final two pages are great, and I hope that shade doesn’t spoil anyone’s reading. Overall grade: A

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt provide sounds, dialogue, computer text, transmissions, broadcast identification, unique villain’s somewhat familiar speech, yells, and the teaser for next issue. The wide variety of fonts increase the visual impact of the story, with that final sound on Page 19 being awesome. Overall grade: A

The final line: A terrific beginning to a new monthly. Having this Doctor in a monthly book is like having a best friend re-enter your life. This Doctor Who is brilliant! Overall grade: A

You can check out the full range of ‘Doctor Who’ comics from Titan at: titan-comics.com

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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