The Eleventh Doctor Complete Year One
Writers: Al Ewing and Rob Williams
Artists: Simon Fraser and Warren Pleece
Publisher: Titan Comics
Published: November 21, 2017
The ones we love make up our world. When time claims them, nothing makes sense. Everything around us falls to pieces. It is up to us to pick up those pieces and rebuild, move forward, create a new world to live in.
That lesson can sometimes be impossible to learn. As it was for Alice Obiefune when she met The Doctor. Her mother was gone. Her job at the library was lost. Her landlord evicted her to knock down the building. Not even the thrill of time travel, the excitement of visiting alien worlds, meeting rock legends, or seeing the face of the creator could show her that the power to live, to keep going, was in her the whole time.
One could easily see the first year of The Doctor’s adventures away from his friends, the Ponds, as a collection of loosely connected, fluffy, stand-alone adventures, and they’d be right. Although there is a slight serialized arc (including a fascinating character on whom the spine of the story rests, who happens to be named Arc), practically every issue has its own beginning, middle, and end. The stories are energetic, crazy, and occasionally hilarious, perfectly mirroring the Eleventh Doctor’s persona. However, themes are touched on repeatedly, evolving from trip to trip as opposed to resolving and resetting for the next story. The continuous look at these themes from various angles is what makes the first year of Titan’s ongoing Eleventh Doctor series feel so monumental and epic.
Sure there’s a ravenous, and adorable, rainbow-colored dog devouring all the sadness and negativity of London. Yeah, there’s a run in with a false God wielding a black hole bomb and the Tardis continues to jump backward in time every few minutes. Sure The Eternal Dogfight shows up over Earth and someone gets a parasite by eating a space donut. All of that, plus Romans and an amusement park planet controlled by an evil organization, make for some truly dazzling spectacle, but what makes it epic are the people.
The stories told by Al Ewing and Rob Williams are funny, scary, exhilarating, and devastating because The Doctor and his new Tardis crew are the focus. The dividing chasm between what they want and what they need is the real quest. Alice needs to accept that the end of her mother’s life doesn’t equal the end of hers. John Jones (a Bowie-esque glam rocker in the early days of his career) needs to be patient with his identity. Arc needs to let go of fear. The Doctor needs to forgive himself for not being able to save everyone all the time. He needs to forgive himself for Gallifrey.
All the while a sinister being known only as the Talent Scout constantly tempts them with images of what they want. He can take away the pain by giving them what they think will fix them, essentially robbing them of what makes them people, taking away their stories.
Artists and colorists Simon Fraser, Boo Cook, Gary Caldwell, Warren Pleece, and Hi-Fi depict giant battles, goofy slapstick, and heart-breaking sadness with equal splendor. There are times when The Eleventh Doctor could step right off the page, or pull you into his marvelous space/time machine. Where they really shine however is in the expressions. You know precisely what these people are thinking and feeling without a single line of dialogue or narration.
The Eleventh Doctor Year One is one of the most moving Doctor Who stories ever told. It isn’t simply about a madman with a box who flies around fighting monsters. It is about us.
We are Arks, Time Machines transporting stories. Everyone we’ve ever met, all the things we’ve done, wished we’d done, wish we’d done differently, these memories make up the story of us. Our stories inform us, define us, drive us to do better. Perhaps we don’t always get it right, but we try. Even the last surviving member of an obliterated ancient alien race with a literal time machine remembers. It keeps him going. Keeps him trying. But it never ever stops him.