New Adventures with The Eleventh Doctor - Issue 5Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 14 December 2014 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Story - Al Ewing,
Artist – Boo Cook,
Colours – Hi-Fi,

Released December 2014 by Titan Comics
Publisher:Titan Comics
Issue 5: The Sound Of Our Voices

As this story comes to a climactic showdown, the TARDIS crew must avoid grave peril abroard the SERVEYOUinc research satellite, and find if possible a peaceful solution to the apparant threat of the ‘ARC' creature. The Doctor is required to put on his thinking cap and deduce the vital clue to this mysterious scenario, but is forced to handle violent Security Chief Officer Hart. Suddenly appearing out of thin air in the middle of a crisis has ended up making the time travellers ideal scapegoats for the nefarious goings on. The new companions of the Doctor meanwhile are themselves forced to use their ingenuity - with Alice stepping to the fore as the decisive one, just as John Jones seems like a rabbit in the headlights.

Those readers wondering if Alice and the Doctor will part ways get their answer promptly enough as the Time Lord shows his considerable nous. In doing so he finds the real truth behind the ARC creature, and ensures that those abroad the station realise just why things have got so perilous. Although Alice is in many ways trying to find herself again after losing everything back in her 'real' home, she is also having a brand new start in life. Like so many before her such as Amy Pond and Rose Tyler she can now avoid having to worry about the mundane aspects of life back on Earth. But learning to understand an individual as deep and complex as the Doctor could still outweigh all the giddy heights that are now coming her way.

John Jones on the other had has not really had much of a detailed journey in this two parter; his intro in issue three still being the standard which needs to be met or exceeded . Nonetheless this character does not in anyway detract from events, and there is still plenty of time for some good material to appear. Male companions can sometimes not quite work in Doctor Who as well as the more traditional female counterpart, but there are enough strong examples to inspire Titan's creative team. Also in all fairness Alice was introduced first, and with enough background that she deserves to have further exploration. And unlike Jones she does not represent a take on an iconic cultural figure, and as such deserves focus.

Al Ewing completes the first multi-part story of this comic series well enough; perhaps a whisker short of fulfilling the promise of the first installment. The Eleventh Doctor really feels like the real article that graced TV screens for four years. When the conclusion unfolds, the Doctor's assertive manner in resolving affairs is spellbinding and uplifting. Of note also is the way he evaluates Dr. Rutherford on her actions and instead chooses a rather surprising companion to join him. Ewing complements the decent characterisation with a brisk pace and lively speech bubbles for the majority of the players involved. Although it could be argued that Jones only really works in the story to explain the comment by Hart that there were 'three' in the doctor's party when they first met him on the world of Rokhandi.

I continue to enjoy the efforts of artist Boo Cook, with him providing a style of artwork that engages and fits in perfectly with the sterile and detached future setting. A fine line is trod between a believable world and a slightly 'out-there' dimension, and this evokes quite well the very distinct style that the Matt Smith/ Steven Moffat stories constituted. The expressions of Jones and indeed Alice to some degree are what one would expect of people who do not belong to this corner of space. in a chapter of history yet to happen from their points of view. Also praiseworthy is how Cook’s artwork becomes more literal and realistic to emphasise fierce emotions - especially when it comes to the distinctive face of the Doctor.

As much as I was engaged by this story on the whole there are some areas to criticise. The plot may have some hooks as far as who is really manipulating affairs, but much of the action resorts to the typical Doctor Who trope of running around and making up a solution on the fly. There is also the obvious overuse of Serve You Inc, with little substantial development to compensate. As this is issue 5, the reader will no doubt wish for a bit of a change up. The story arc has become just that bit too noticeable, and hopefully there will be some strong stand-alones which remind the reader of Doctor Who's unequalled scope for a plethora of bold stories.
Issue 4 did have a bit more thematic depth which does not have quite the pay off here. At the same time even the best stories can have this element of mindless action to and fro. This story does at least reach a conclusion which is able to subvert expectations and as a part of an ongoing series it works well enough.

**
Once again the two bonus strips Are from AJ and Marc Ellerby respectively. 'Stop That' involves the Doctor on a planet that seems uncannily like Mars seemingly ready to find some trouble. But before he can get far, it would appear the TARDIS is trying to aggravate him, as concerns his final destination that was foretold long ago.
The second bonus comic has the TARDIS crew of Amy and Rory and gives the Ood a big starring role. Fun is poked at social media and popularity, with the Doctor clearly insecure that he is not quite the darling with the universe that he used to be. 'An Ood Thing To Say' is pleasant enough, but perhaps not quite as funny a piece as Ellerby is capable of.