Doctor Who Annual 2010 (IDW Publishing)

Missing David Tennant? IDW offers up four short stories starring the much beloved Tenth Doctor in this over-sized annual.


48 pgs., color; $7.99
(W: Matthew Dow Smith, Jonathan L. Davis, Tony Lee; A: Matthew Dow Smith, Al Davison, Kelly Yates)
I’m going to have to admit that I, as usual, had an ulterior motive for requesting this book. I’m also going to have to confess to being really, truly, shamefully dorky. Somewhere, in the back of my brain, I was hoping that the first US issued Doctor Who Annual would feature the Tenth Doctor. Ten was played by David Tennant, beloved of nerdy fangirls everywhere, and is one half of the most epic, star-crossed fictional couple I feel I’ve ever encountered. It was too much to hope for his one true love, Rose Tyler, to show up but I had high hopes for a Ten appearance. Fans of the show know that he stepped away from the show an entire season ago and the Eleventh Doctor, while an interesting character, hasn’t really had time to grab me like Ten did. Ten was angsty and awkward and beautiful and compelling and so, so confused. And noble. In other words, Ten was somethin’ else. Really. And I will probably go ahead and fight anyone who says that Rose wasn’t awesome. I will. Ten and Rose were flawed in a way that crammed themselves straight into my heart. Maybe that’s why I liked Ten so much. He was not perfect but he was still The Doctor. Also, David Tennant is smokin’ hot. Seriously.
So imagine my shameful fangirl delight when I pulled this thin trade out of the envelope and there, leaning against the front of the TARDIS, sonic screwdriver in hand and with a bit of a smirk, was Ten. I was so excited – this was my chance! Shameless fangirl denial ahoy! Ten wasn’t really gone, here he was flying through space and time in the TARDIS. And then I read the book. And then I knew I had to get over it.
The annual itself is actually a little bit strange. It’s three standalone comics and one comic that ties into IDW’s currently running Doctor Who monthly series. The first story, “Ground Control”, is written by screenwriter Jonathan L. Davis and drawn and colored by Kelly Yates, creator of the fabulously underrated Amber Atoms. It’s a fairly compelling look at the TARDIS as a weapon but relies too heavily on an often-used storytelling trope to resolve itself. Next up, we have what seems to be the costar (David Tennant’s Ten is clearly the star) of the book—“The Big, Blue Box,” a story of a weapon that has the pleasure of interacting with the Doctor throughout his entire life. Written and drawn by Matthew Dow Smith, it’s easily the best all-around story in the collection. The humorously named Matt Smith has worked on such projects as Astronauts in Trouble: Live from the Moon and Sandman Mystery Theatre, as well as having worked on IDW’s regularly running Doctor Who monthly. So it’s almost no surprise that he takes to the format and, more importantly, the story like the pro that he is.
Al Davison, creator of The Spiral Cage, comes up third in the line-up with “To Sleep, Perchance to Scream”, an answer to the question of what a Time Lord who hardly sleeps dreams of when he dares to. And it’s not, sadly, Rose Tyler but someone far more sad and strange. When we dream, we often dream of ourselves but who does a fractured soul like the Doctor dream of? Not only does this story have a more interesting concept than much of the rest of the book, the artwork is delightfully dreamlike. Last up, we have the hook for the Annual – issue 13 of the monthly Doctor Who series, “Old Friend”, a prelude to Final Sacrifice, the last four story arc starring the Tenth Doctor and his faithful companion, Emily. I know, I know. I asked, too, fangirls. The last story is written by Tony Lee, who famously adapted Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and drawn and colored by Matthew Dow Smith. Strangely, throughout the book, the TARDIS features strongly, perhaps taking the place of a noticeable companion. At one point, the Doctor catches himself talking to his console and points out that he, in fact, needs a human companion.
There’s nothing particularly inappropriate for any age group in this book, though some of the concepts might be a little more abstract than the kiddies can handle. I would recommend it to anyone but especially to fans of the good Doctor. I might not recommend it for fangirls looking for a little light delusion like myself, though. I do have to add the warning that it might not be a good starting point for new fans of the Doctor since there’s no real backstory included. The full-color art varies from the mundane to the sublime and there is a panda hiding on the cover.
So Ten rides again and you and I get one more chance to accompany him through space and time. It’s always a little bittersweet to revisit one of your favorite television characters in this format and this is no exception. Seeing Ten about to regenerate is a bit depressing, yes, but the beauty of the Doctor is that he never really dies and that, in itself, is a reflection of us—we lose parts of ourselves all the time, sloughing off aspects of our personality that don’t seem to fit us. The Doctor does the same thing in moments of great trauma and to a far more severe degree, and what it seems this book is doing is moving us in that general direction. Nine came to us mad and Ten came to us less mad and more human, making his Time Lord moments all the more surreal and jarring. Eleven is a whole new creature but let us not jump ahead. The Doctor is dead, long live the Doctor. | Erin Jameson
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