Last summer, when Titan Comics announced it had acquired a licence to produce Doctor Who comics, few would have expected it to be aiming to release 50 issues over its first year, across all four 21st Century Doctors. Its Eleventh Doctor adventures series (with Matt Smith in the title role) has just released its first collection, featuring the first five issues.
Nicolai Dante recently finished in 2000AD and his artist, Simon Fraser, has now joined up with writer Rob Williams for the first 11th Doctor chapter. Joined by writer Al Ewing and, later in the book, artist Boo Cook, it starts with new companion-to-be, Alice Obiefune. Alice’s mother has recently died, she’s lost her job and she’s about to be evicted from her flat. Of course, she then meets the Doctor, who introduces fun and excitement back into her life. It’s a slightly obvious formula: the TV show originally introduced us to the Doctor through his first companion, Susan Foreman, back in 1963; and, of course, through Rose Tyler when the show relaunched in 2005.
As the collection goes on, we meet another new companion John Jones (a Who version of a young David Bowie, a single-joke character who only seems to be there to fit in as many Bowie rip-off songs and lyrics as possible). Plus there’s the ongoing big bad, a company called SERVEYOUinc, that seems to be behind every shady organisation the Doctor and his companions encounter, in true time-wimey Who style.
The linked stories hop about in time and are fun to read, even if the Doctor’s characterisation isn’t always spot on. They don’t really push the boundaries but it’s early days. Simon Fraser’s art in the early chapters shows some excellent characterisation and layouts, moodily coloured by Gary Caldwell. Sadly Boo Cook’s art for chapters 4 and 5 isn’t quite as strong, with harsher lines and a more exaggerated approach that seems to favour caricature – and Matt Smith’s chin. Cook’s colourist, Hi-Fi, adds a lurid, day-glo feel, which feels like a complete mis-step.
The collected edition reproduces a few of the many variant covers for the series (the first issue had over 20!), but sadly most of them are thumbnails. All in all, this feels like a slow start and is nowhere near an essential purchase for Who fans.