In Review: Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Year Two #6

This is where you can run about strange environments and experience exciting adventures that only the Doctor and his friends can supply.

The covers: A very unique collection of three covers for you to find if you are a true Doctor fan! The A cover is by Alice X. Zhang and this has to be my favorite frontpiece she’s done for a Who book. David Tennant’s Doctor looks at the reader with his eyebrow going Mr. Spock, while colors swirl around him. I like the style of the artwork and the coloring makes this really eye catching. The B cover is the one I had to purchase and it was created by Will Brooks. It’s a cover containing an image of John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, who’s activating his vortex manipulator and teleporting out of the scene, leaving David Tennant as the Doctor to use his sonic screwdriver to defend himself. Behind the pair is the skyline of a 21st century city on a river. I love both of the actors and their characters and seeing them together was all I needed to push me over the edge to purchase this Variant cover. The C cover is the most wacky Who cover yet, and I absolutely love it! It’s by Question No. 6 and it has a very angular, minimalist, cartoony Doctor surrounded by several items and characters he’s known for: a hightop shoe, a sonic screwdriver, the TARDIS, 3D glasses, an adipose, “BAD WOLF”, a key, and Rose. It’s charming beyond measure. I would love to see more from this artist! Overall grades: A A, B A+, and C A+ 

The story: Nick Abadzis’s first part of two parter “Arena of Fear” doesn’t feature the title character for some time and I found that refreshing for a Who story. The issue opens with companion Gabby Gonzalez not remembering certain things, except that she has to go with her friends. These people include Cleo, Erik, Muthmunna, and Captain Jack Harkness (though she does call him something else secretly). On their travels they’ve learned that Jack can’t be killed, Cleo has a thing for Jack, and Erik is “kinda cold on a personal level.” They try to avoid trouble, which includes accidentally coming upon two groups of warring neanderthals. They have two additional characters join them on their trek across the landscape, which bring some funny lines and a rather surprising reveal on Pages 9 and 10. When the Doctor does appear it’s practically an Avatar: The Last Airbender moment (the cartoon, not the movie). I really liked how Gabby was able to get the Doctor on her side on Page 17 and the villain’s motivation for doing what he’s doing is great. In the final pages the antagonist stirs the pot, possibly creating division among the heroes, while a few more threats are lurking above. A fun read for loyal followers and the first time reader. Overall grade: A

The art: I’ll admit to being a little concerned as I looked at the art from Eleonora Carlini. The reason was that she’s using blurry photos for the first five pages for mountains and they really stick out from everything else. They’re given a digital tweaking, having vertical lines running through them, but this only increases their lack of unity with the rest of the art. Thankfully, after Page 5 they disappear and Carlini is drawing her own mountains, and they look fine. I don’t know why she did what she did in the opening, because what appears in the rest of the book is good. That said, her characters look terrific. Her style is a little cartoony and it works well. I really like that she’s able to capture the likenesses of Barrowman and Tennant in her interpretations and have them emote so well: the reaction by Jack at the top of Page 4 is excellent, as is the Doctor’s at the bottom of 17. The double-paged splash of the battle on 4 and 5 is terrific. The design of the two characters that join the familiar characters are awesomely alien, and the “individual” that’s on the attack on Pages 9 and 10 is magnificent, with Carlini making it a fantastic scene of chaos. The design of the villain must also be mentioned. He’s a mishmash of several different styles, with him appearing very anime and Ian McKellen to me. I’m looking forward to seeing what Carlini does next issue. Overall grade: A- 

The colors: Arianna Florean, with Azzurra Florean, makes each land that the characters journey through have its own unique color scheme; this makes their trip a little more magical. The book opens in the expected greens of the mountains, then turns barren browns in a desert environment. A water character brings a nice splash of blue and pale green to the surroundings, and night dims the colors well. Reds and sky blues become dominate when an attack occurs on an ally, only to turn a beautiful orange when the Doctor appears. The skies turn a light violet when the villain in black appears, which makes his pasty white skin all the more prominent. My favorite colored page is 14 because it really is pretty. Overall grade: A

The letters: Gabby’s journal writing, dialogue, yells, screams, sounds, villain speech, and the dramatic “To Be Continued!” come from Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. Everything they do is always top notch, and the sounds in this issue particularly shine, on Pages 10 and 11, and the villain’s speech is delightfully evil. Overall grade: A+

The final line: You don’t need an invitation to jump in. This is where you can run about strange environments and experience exciting adventures that only the Doctor and his friends can supply. A neat mystery and some fun visuals. Overall grade: A

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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