Doctor Who #1 (IDW Publishing)

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IDW relaunches their comics adaptation of the long-running British sci-fi series with this first story starring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor.

 

32 pgs., color; $3.99
(W: Tony Lee; A: Andrew Currie)
 
Around the time of the release of the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (HP7A to its friends), I heard more than a few reviewers complaining that the story made no sense if you were coming to it fresh*—in other words if you hadn’t seen/read/somehow kept up with the previous six installments. To which I could only think: if you weren’t interested before, why did you suddenly decide to jump in now? It’s like reading War and Peace starting at page 1000 and then complaining that Tolstoy didn’t bother to properly introduce his characters.
 
I state this as a preface because I’m reviewing a Doctor Who comic book featuring the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor (Matt Smith) despite my not having seen any of the previous comics based on the series and, in truth, having only sporadic knowledge of the longest running science fiction television program in the history of the world. But I’m not going to be like the whiners who expected J.K. Rowling and/or David Yates to bring them up to speed on the series: instead I’m happy to report that this comic works perfectly well without extensive knowledge of the previous installments. No doubt I’m missing a few fine points (and no doubt someone, or more likely numerous someones, who know the series better than I will highlight such things in their reviews) but it’s a clever story with good art and a high quotient of geek humor, so really what’s not to like?
 
The salient joke in Doctor Who #1 is that email spam has become material, or at least holographic, so the TARDIS (for you newbies: that’s the police-box-shaped-object which is actually a spaceship and time machine) is now populated with characters offering zero percent financing and the chance to cash in on the fortune of the recently-departed King of Secunda—if only you are willing to share the details of your bank account. Also on the TARDIS are young lovers Rory Williams and Amy Pond (and yes, they’re due to be married soon, just as in the television show) and a talking, levitating stapler which says things like “You seem to be hiding in the TARDIS. Would you like any assistance?” rather like the animated paper clip which is a feature/annoyance of the word processing program created by a certain software company owned by the second richest man in the world. 
 
To purge the spam, the TARDIS has to shut down for a few hours, which brings our heroes to a planet populated by holograms with the apt name of Phayke (if you don’t enjoy groaners, this might not be the series for you) that is about to be destroyed by the evil Scroungers. There’s also a subplot about Rory and Amy’s alternative romantic interests and, as you would imagine, a combination of techno-cunning and good old-fashioned psychology saves the day and preserves a world safe for future installments.
 
Drawing comics based on real-life models (in this case the actors from the television series) is always tough, but Andrew Currie does a good job of capturing the essence of each character without edging over into the uncanny valley. There’s nothing attention-getting about most of the panels in this comic but they’re efficient and fun, and Currie finds appropriate visual means to convey the more fanciful aspects of the story. You can see a preview of the art for this issue here: http://charliekirchoff.com/tag/andrew-currie. | Sarah Boslaugh
 
*I have heard similar complaints about installments 2 and 3 of the Millennium Trilogy (in English, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) and my answer is the same: they’re part of a series and if you choose to ignore that fact, so much the worse for you.

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