New Adventures with the Eleventh Doctor - Issue 4: WhodunnitBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 11 November 2014 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Eleventh Doctor - Issue 4: Whodunnit
Revolutions of Terror, Part Three
New Adventures with the Tenth Doctor
Issue 3
Written by Al Ewing
Illustrated by Boo Cook
Coloured by Hi-Fi
Released 2014 by Titan Comics
This new issue in the line of comic strip adventures with The Eleventh Doctor confirms that John Jones is indeed a companion proper following his striking introduction in last month's escapades. Having been somewhat memorable at first, this is perhaps not the best use of this character as he spouts rather frivolous statements and does not really seem to be swept along by the amazing experiences he is so privileged to be having. He instead seems to be treating the whole thing as a trip on the chemical substance level - which may be a deliberate choice by the creative team but seems rather cloying. The old conceit of characters rarely needing comfort breaks is also bypassed as Jones seems desperate to go to a stopover place; when the TARDIS would surely offer much more comfortable options. At least Alice is as engaging as ever, even if she shows signs of being ready to resume her normal challenges in the real world.

The actual plot is nothing too different from the usual outer space fare for Doctor Who. Something is turning members of a spaceship crew researching beetle colonies into human vegetables, and The TARDIS lands at the very moment when those trying to maintain order have become rather paranoid. By being released in time for Halloween there is a perhaps deliberate atmosphere of creepiness and mystery as the rather odd alien entity causing the danger is employed sparingly and thus the tension is quite acute.

The Doctor also has the personal worry of Alice siding against him upon hearing him dismiss her and many of her predecessors as little more than outsiders and stowaways. Yet this is once again a good opportunity for modern Doctor Who to show off its winning character development attributes. Alice is certainly one of the more grown-up and steady of the companions and this means that the sometimes childishly positive Matt Smith incarnation must accept that life can be inescapably difficult. A key objective for a spin-off story in another medium is to try and add something that the source material did not explore - or at least not to a great extent. Thus Titan Comics are justifying their work beyond a purely franscise-level.

Al Ewing returns to writing duties with a much more gripping and memorable story than his previous solo effort in Issue 2. There is a good combination of black humour, intrigue and the threads of 'timey-wimey-ness' coming together from the previous set-up of prior installments. More striking though is that we have a different artist on board for the first time in this particular series, with Boo Cook getting to show off his style of presentation. There is very much a pure sci-fi feel, and by being set on a sterile craft in space there is less need for the heady mix of colours and contrasts that were noticeable in the other stories. For me personally the character designs of Cook stood up well; emotions and defining facial features were to a particularly solid standard.

Most reading this review will be pretty loyal fans of the show, but as some people make comics their first choice of entertainment/escapism, we can only hope these new stories are drawing in a whole new demographic to this five decade (and counting!) phenomenon. Perhaps a singular issue has less impact if not read in sequence after other entries, but there is some good work being done with the story arc and a long-term plan seems confident enough. Essentially the expectation now is that the 'hits' will begin to outweigh the 'near-misses', so that some real momentum is built for the flamboyant Eleventh Doctor.

**
Bonus strips are once again enchantingly amusing. A nice call-back to the wooden Cyberman of Matt's TV tenure features in 'Wooden Acting' by AJ. Can Marc Ellerby do no wrong?? Once again he ticks all he boxes you can ask for with his 'Wholloween' gem. The Doctor may be free to travel anywhere and anywhen but he can't escape alien kids after something tasty from his many forms of sustenance abroad the TARDIS. Amy dressed up as a witch is also of amusement, especially as she can't seem to get her Time Lord chum to make the same sort of effort.