When I was a kid, Doctor Who was a dead show. Yet, despite this, I have been watching the series for as long as I can remember (it has always been part of my life). I watched old repeats on UKTV Gold, I bought the bulky VHS tapes that were sold in Forbidden Planet, and I collected those action figures that used to break the second the packaging was removed. I also have vague recollections of my 6th birthday party, when I invited my friends round to watch Sylvester McCoy’s Battlefield – none of them even knew what a TARDIS was! Indeed, in those days, it felt like I was the only kid on the planet who was still watching Doctor Who. Thus, it’s still hard to believe that, nowadays, the show has gained such popularity. Going to see The Day of the Doctor in a packed cinema with a group of chums was definitely one of my highlights of 2013 (“See, I told you this show was awesome. Now, come watch Time and the Rani with me!!”)
To sum up, I absolutely love Doctor Who (in case that wasn’t clear). I love the Classic Series, I love the new Series; I love Russell T. Davies, I love Steven Moffat; I love wobbly sets, I love overused quarries. And, speaking as an avid fan, Titan Comics seem to have done a pretty good job of creating a Doctor Who Comic.
Written by Nick Abadzis, Doctor Who: Revolutions of Terror #1 takes place towards the end of David Tennant’s tenure. Anyone who’s watched Series 4 will know that, at this point in his timeline, the Doctor has just wiped the memories of his best friend, Donna Noble (“sob, sniff – why, Doc, why?!”). So, since the Doctor is travelling alone, Titan is able to give the tenth Doctor a new assistant (I’m just guessing that’s what they’re going to do – having only read the first issue, it is difficult to tell).
The story starts with a shot of Earth: solitary and suspended in the depths of space. Suddenly, the TARDIS appears and begins hurtling towards the planet. There’s no dialogue, but there doesn’t need to be: the madman’s in his ‘bluest-blue’ box, heading towards Earth, and we know the drill! It’s such a simple, classic way to open a Doctor Who episode – I could almost hear Murray Gold’s soundtrack powering up in the background. The power of this first page is largely due to the artwork and colourings, which combine perfectly to establish that this is very much the opening to a Doctor Who story.
After this promising opening, we then switch to what revived Doctor Who does best – a simple, everyday scene with strong, believable characters (it’s not all about space and aliens). Cindy and Gabriella are in New York, in a Laundromat, talking about very human problems. Gabriella feels a lot of pressure from her family and wants to escape, making her the most likely candidate for Tennant’s new assistant. But this scene doesn’t remain grounded for long – cue the killer washing machines!!! ‘Killer washing machines’ certainly fit in with this period of Doctor Who. Remember the deadly Christmas tree? Oooh, or what about those murderous Sat Navs from The Sontaran Stratagem? By making a familiar, mundane object dangerous, Abadzis successfully generates the feel of a Tennant episode.
Abadzis’ dialogue for the tenth Doctor is also very ‘Tennant’. At points, I could definitely hear Tennant’s voice saying the words that Abadzis had written for him, and the art portrays the erratic movements of the tenth Doctor very effectively. It’s a joy to see him investigating with his sonic again, whether in a restaurant or on a subway train. The final page, especially, was an image that would’ve fitted neatly into any tenth Doctor episode. It was such a quintessential Tennant pose (which, by the way, would look awesome as a poster – get onto that Titan!). For me, continuity in Doctor Who is a big thing, so it’s good to see Titan Comics keeping with the tone, sound and movements of the Tennant years.
The story itself is difficult to comment on, as this was clearly ‘part one’ of a larger tale. It’s certainly too early to tell whether this will have the clever twists of a Moffat script (I really hope so), or whether it will be big-bad-monster-gets-defeated-by-big-red-button. However, there were enough creepy, intriguing elements to make me buy issue 2, and the monster does look great.
In fact, Doctor Who works really well as a comic – monsters can be drawn more ambitiously because there are no BBC budget constraints, and the format allows for some good cliffhangers. Importantly, this comic can be enjoyed by fans and non-fans alike: apart from a fleeting reference to Donna, this issue requires no previous knowledge of Doctor Who.
I have a few minor criticisms but, to be honest, they certainly didn’t ruin my enjoyment of this first issue. Firstly, I understand that they’re sisters, but Blanca and Gabriella looked too similar to be wearing the same outfit. Indeed, there’s one scene where I’m still not 100% sure whether it’s Blanca or Gabriella who’s talking. Furthermore, it was very clear that Gabriella was unhappy with her current situation – was there any need for her to write “I will die of boredom before my time after a life of tedious drudgery”? And, lastly, a bit more humour in the comic would have been nice, and would perhaps have made Gabriella a bit more likeable. But these are minor issues.
Ultimately, this comic felt like the opener of a new series of Doctor Who – an episode that could have been written by Russell T. Davies himself. If I had to rate it, I’d give it 7/10, but I’d rather hold back on my judgement until it becomes clearer what direction the story is headed in. For now, David Tennant is back, and the universe is in safe hands!