Artists: Elena Casagrande and Arianna Florean
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft'sJimmy Betancourt
On Sale: December 2, 2015
In the previous two issues we saw Gabby and the Doctor out and about, once more gallivanting around the universe after stopping the destruction of Earth. While they are away, Cindy settles down to read the diary that her best friend gave her. She is hoping to finally learn the truth about this mysterious Doctor.
If I had to use just one word to describe this comic, I would probably go for… Bold. Why? Well let’s start with the overall story itself. This is a Doctor-lite issue. You know what I’m talking about, like those episodes where the actor playing the Doctor is on vacation and so they write a whole story that barely features the character. It has been done well with phenomenal stories like Blink. Sometimes though, they come up short, Love and Monsters being the most notorious example, though I personally enjoyed it. Here we are just three issues into this “second season” of Doctor Who comics from Titan, and they are already taking a risk by excluding the two main characters from this story. Both the Doctor and his companion Gabby are physically absent for the entire issue. We the reader are ultimately being guided by two of the more unlikable characters from previous story arcs, Cindy and Cleo. This could have been a disaster, maybe even should have been a disaster, but it wasn’t. Mostly because Cleo has finally shed some of that hard exterior and revealed that she’s more than the thug who knocked the Doctor around during their last encounter. Cindy had a bit of a turn around too, though I feel like that has a lot to do with the second bold decision in this issue, the choice of storytelling device.
Here we are in a Doctor-Lite episode and the first page shows Cindy sitting on a NY park bench holding her best friend’s diary. She opens up the book and we are transported into the diary. We aren’t watching Cindy reading, but rather seeing with our eyes what she is seeing. The pages are no longer comic book pages with panels, speech bubbles and captions, but instead paragraphs of text off to the side with quick sketches in the middle. Even the colour of the pages changes during this portion of the story. And it works well! We get a mini “origin story” that tells us a little tale about how Cindy and Gabby bonded over a scary situation when they were just children. She then uses that feeling of terror and excitement to describe life with the Doctor. These diary pages also work really well as a catch up. If new readers came on board when “season 2” started, they might not know all about the Doctor. Here, through Cindy’s eyes, the audience are reintroduced to him, given a quick primer on just what sort of man the Doctor is and the stage is set for his reappearance most likely in the next issue.
There is a lot more to this particular story than just seeing what Cindy is reading. The book itself becomes the plot. There is something off with the diary. The pages are changing, almost alive. They start warning her how dangerous it would be if it fell into the wrong hands. Those hands belong to Mister Ebonite, the owner of the black market auction house. Dressed all in black, with his elongated and pinched face, he is giving off weird vibes long before he pulls out a flying skull and sends it after Gabby and Cleo. With weird mystical or magical powers that will undoubtedly actually be alien tech in origin, he gets the upper hand. When things are looking really bad for our rag tag misfits a familiar face makes an appearance. Even though this issue has been out for quite a while, I won’t spoil it for anyone who is planning to eventually get around to reading it. All I will say is that it was a pleasant surprise!
Over all I really enjoyed this issue. The diary portion was great. The little cartoons that accompanied the text were cute and perfect. I missed a bunch of the early issues in this series and so I benefited from the recap as much as any other reader would have. Both Cindy and Cleo get some great character development that makes them more likeable and relatable. Even if they hadn’t started endearing themselves to me, the twist at the end of the issue was more than enough to keep me coming back next month.
Bonus Strip: A Rose By Any Other Name By Rachael Smith
Rose-The-Cat wonders why the Doctor isn’t using his moping chair anymore, only to discover that he’s found all the companionship he needs inside a videogame.