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Comic Book Review – Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #1

Written by George Mann
Art by Emma Vieceli
Colours by Hi-Fi
Letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Edited by Andrew James
Published by Titan Comics

Josephine ‘Josie’ Day is painting in an empty cottage in a Welsh village when she’s disturbed by a noise, then a man: ‘I’m the Doctor, and I’d very much like to know what you’re doing in my house?’; her life isn’t going to be the same. The man is the eighth Doctor (as played by Paul McGann for one film, over a decade of audio adventures and recently wonderfully revived by Steve Moffat in Night of the Doctor), ‘a romantic soul wandering the universe in search of culture, companionship and adventure’, as accurately described on the inside cover.

The Doctor has returned to his home on Earth – it’s been several decades since he was last in the cottage – and he’s looking for a book. He thinks it’s important because someone left it for him – himself, ‘The other me. Old one, white hair and frills.’ – a copy of Jane Eyre (‘It’s one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century! Don’t they teach you anything these days?’). He’s distracted by Josie’s paintings, which have very unusual subject matter, only to be disturbed by a neighbour with a story of being attacked in the pub by a monster (‘I’m the Doctor – and I love a good monster story.’), a monster that was just like the one in Josie’s painting … When the monsters turn out to be Witherkin, creatures of living starlight that fashion bodies from fragments of drifting asteroids, and animated ones created by Josie because she is covered with Animae Particles (I do like a good pun), it’s up to Josie to save the day and finish the story …

I’d read a novel by Mann before but none of his comic books; he does a good job of capturing the voice of the Doctor in his eighth incarnation, the quest for culture and adventure, and the story is very much in keeping with the current approach to Doctor Who stories – quick to action, peril without heavy danger, humorous, a resourceful companion. It’s good to see this version of the Doctor getting a chance to shine in comic books, a good medium for the adventures because it has the necessary limitless budget. Vieceli is a good storyteller – the art flows naturally and dynamically – but the approach to likeness is more impressionistic than realistic; there are times where the art reminds me of Mark Buckingham and sometimes when it reminds me of Mike Deodato, particularly the late ‘80s, early ‘90s style, with less emphasis on background detail and more on the characters in the foreground. It has a charm that matches the Byronic tone of the Doctor and the adventure – light, breezy, playful, dashing – that overcomes any slight inconsistencies. The same playful and breezy tone is developed in the colouring, which channels the pastel end of the spectrum, taking it further away from the photorealistic style and placing it firmly in the cartoonier arena, almost with a hint of old-fashioned children’s book illustrations. It sounds like it shouldn’t come together, but it does in that wonderfully strange way that Doctor Who does. This comic book is a done-in-one story, setting up further adventures for the eighth Doctor and Josie as they investigate the strange circumstances behind Josie’s Animae Particles and her knowledge of unusual Doctor Who villains, which sounds like a perfect recipe for this particular time-travelling team. A good start to the mini-series.

Disclosure: this book was provided as a PDF for review purposes.

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