Sunday, July 20, 2014

Titan Comics' First Issues - A Review

Tenth Doctor #1 and Eleventh Doctor #1 Review by Jeremy Bement

Titan Comics' two new Doctor Who series have had me waiting in anticipation since they were first announced. IDW, the previous company to produce Doctor Who comics, had set the bar pretty high with some really excellent stories accompanied by pretty respectable art. Would Titan be able to come out with books on par with their predecessor? Maybe that's an unfair comparison but nonetheless I wondered...

I was very impressed with the opening pages of the Tenth Doctor #1 issue. The artwork by Elena Casagrande had a style to it that, to me, isn't what you expect in a Doctor Who comic. However, it's amazing to look at with full backgrounds and dynamic layouts combined with interesting character designs. Throughout the rest of the issue Elena's pencils continue to look good and I look forward to the rest of her story arc.

Storywise, Nick Abadzis' script seemed pretty decent. I enjoyed learning about the new companion Gabriella Gonzalez's life and world, and it's nice to see an American soon to travel in the TARDIS. I finished the first episode intrigued and wanting to read the next issue to see Gabriella develop and also to find out more about the mysterious menace Abadzis has created for this story.

My only complaint regarding the first issue of the Tenth Doctor comic was that it felt too much like the first story of the Ninth Doctor's TV era, Rose. The reader is introduced to Gabriella, who isn't very happy with her life, and her family - much like you learn about Rose, her mom and Mickey. Gabriella encounters a mysterious alien (or supernatural thing - we're not sure which at this point) and by the end of the issue she meets the Doctor. Sound similar to the episode Rose? Just a little too much for my taste. However, I can understand what Titan Comics is trying to do by using a story format familiar to New Who fans who may also be new to Doctor Who comics. Giving fans a story that may remind them of their favorite era of Doctor Who may not necessarily be a bad thing if it gets them to come back for subsequent issues.

The first issue of the Eleventh Doctor is a bit different. This is a done-in-one story that begins with the introduction of Alice Obiefune, who becomes the new companion by issue's end. Her introduction is a somber one, as the death of her mom has her depressed - nicely shown through the graytones used to color the art until the appearance of a giant alien dog and the Doctor. Once the Doctor appears, Alice's life seems to take a turn for the better as she finds a purpose. By the end of the issue we have found out quite a bit about this new, smart, plucky woman who will be a nice addition to the Doctor's life.

The story by Rob Williams and Al Ewing is pretty straightforward. It's not so much a story that introduces the Doctor to the reader, but shows the repercussions of what can happen to a person after the Doctor impacts their life. In this way Alice's origin is an upside-down version of the Tenth Doctor's companion Donna, who meets the Doctor on what should be the best time of her life as opposed to Alice's lowest low. It's nice to see that Alice is quite intelligent and that the Doctor acknowledges this aspect of her. Hopefully this leads to interesting future stories. It's a nice complete story by the two writers that has me liking the new companion - and the final panel of the issue has me curious as to what may be in store.

Simon Fraser's artwork varies for me. The first pages look incredible before the story becomes full color. After that I still like what I see, although the Tenth Doctor's likeness becomes a bit too cartoony or more like a caricature compared to the rest of the people in this story. Perhaps Simon was having a tough time capturing Matt Smith's look, which can be hard to do with some people; time will tell. All in all, however, I enjoyed what I saw and can't wait to see more. 

As far as first issues go, I think Titan Comics did a nice job. Both creative teams have given us interesting new companions that have potential to become some of the best, most developed and rounded characters in Doctor Who comics' long history. Both introductions feel a bit too comfortable and gave me a sense of deja vu, but for those people coming into Doctor Who comics fresh they may enjoy feeling "at home" with stories slightly familiar to them. I'm looking forward to what is in store for both of these titles and these two issues are great starters in what looks to be a long line of great comics from the new publisher of Doctor Who. Pick them up and join the adventure! 

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