New Adventures with the Tenth Doctor = The Arts In SpaceBookmark and Share

Thursday, 20 November 2014 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Cover A: Art cover by Verity Glass (Credit: Titan Comics)
Revolutions of Terror, Part Three
New Adventures with the Tenth Doctor
Issue 4
Written by Nick Abadzis
Illustrated by Elena Casagrande & Arianna Florean
Released 2014 by Titan Comics
This new multi-part story takes place almost immediately after the end of 'Revolutions of Terror'. Gabriella Gonzalez has joined the Doctor for a one-off trip in the TARDIS; which of course will not turn out to be the case in practice. The Doctor saw something in Gabby’s courage and resourcefulness, and so allows another companion to join him. This despite the deep trauma of losing perfect pal Donna. The destination is a deliberate one as the Doctor wishes to introduce his New Yorker friend to 'Ouloumous' - a considerably more futuristic art gallery than the likes of the Guggenheim. The Time Lord has many acquaintances across the cosmos, and the visit is designed to lead to a reunion with mega-gifted artist Zhe; a being who can sing her works into existence, using the familiar device of block transfer computation (as seen in 1980s Doctor Who). After a comprehensive tour of the museum proper, a visit to Zhe's retreat is in order, and the real adventure and danger begins to show itself. Zhe appears to not be quite her normal self, and there are other beings present who seem to have a chip on their sculptured shoulders.

As with issues 1-3 artwork is consistently impressive and helps convey the story very well. But there is an added hook here as much of the story is told from Gabby’s point of view through the medium of her diary. Many sketches exist to portray her deepest thoughts and impressions concerning this remarkable change to her lifestyle. This serves the story by both making things refreshing, as well as broadening Gabby's character to include aspirations of being a comic illustrator one day in her own right. Well-judged humour abounds, and since the Tenth Doctor is so magnetic and engaging a new person's reaction to his many quirks is always going to be of interest.

Whilst many of us fans may be now quite familiar with the 'new recruit' on the TARDIS, it is worth remembering that as each person is unique, so their ability to adjust and appreciate the sights and sounds of the cosmos will be unique as well. Gabby is a clearly thoughtful and deep-thinking type and documents her perception of the animals, plant life, topography and even the sensations of an alien world's weather system. And somehow just as spellbinding for her is the Doctor's total relaxation at being somewhere so different to Earth. So what could just have been a gimmick ends up being a wonderfully creative way of adding to an already promising character. She has grown quickly in the short span of time since we saw her in the Laundromat, and is now pretty much outside of being subservient to her family - particularly her domineering patriarch.

The story itself regarding sinister beings using Zhe's shape-altering powers is solid but takes a back seat for much of this issue. Presumably this is to allow for more focus on plot and the requisite twists and turns in next month's installment. I regard Nick Abadzis as a man who really tells a story in an engaging manner, and he is clearly taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by the Doctor's vulnerability from the end of Series 4. Exposition is mostly delivered well, although if one were to be fussy there some self-indulgence with one or two sections of the gallery that the Doctor covers in his role of 'tour-guide' which adds little to proceedings. Tennant's on-screen interpretation shines througjh well, and I really can appreciate how carefully Titan have made sure each of the ongoing lines provides the right stories and material for the particular incarnation of the Doctor. Elena Casagrande’s art again impresses and the eeriness of being on a lunar landscape in the dark is perfect for the autumn release date of the comic. And when it comes to the journal written by Gabby, we can enjoy a rather different style of sketching, courtesy of secondary artist Florean’s own brand of illustration. As the icing on the cake there are some good subtle references to Classic Who - in addition to the strong reminder of Logopolis and Castrovalva's hard-sci-fi concepts. So another very enjoyable entry from Titan, and David Tennant fans will be well-catered for.

As with other issues, there are comedic bonus entries. Wardrobe Malfunction by AJ, features the Doctor trying on various costumes inbetween adventures; whilst A Rose by any other name, from Rachael Smith, concerns the iconic first modern day companion and a new spin on well-known Shakespeare text.