Titan Comics continues to find success with its line of “Doctor Who” comics, and The Eleventh Doctor – Year Three #1 finds Matt Smith’s iteration of the time-travelling eccentric embarking on a third year of travels with loyal Alice by his side. This debut issue, written by Rob Williams with art by I.N.J. Culbard, finds the Doctor in fine form, and adds a dash of compelling commentary to boot.
The issue opens with Alice and the Doctor at the tail end of an unseen adventure, the duo fleeing a planet colonized by red-faced Brits in dull suits all screaming about “Britzit.” In case the Brexit commentary wasn’t clear to all, the Doctor and Alice are then forced to escape from a giant robot with terrible hair that looks suspiciously like a former mayor of London and current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. That adventure soon give way to a more solemn one which finds the Doctor and Alice saying goodbye to an old friend before being swept up into a mystery surrounding a planet bursting with an entirely new ecosystem that seems to have sprung up faster than is normally possible.
Williams and Culbard have created an issue that jumps from setting to setting a bit crazily, packed with big ideas and commentary and musings on mortality. I will say that the initial prologue material, with its schoolboy satirical jabs at Brexiters doesn’t quite mesh with the more subdued and meditative middle section, which itself is followed by a creepy and foreboding final act that also feels a bit jarring. The result is an issue that is enjoyable, ambitious and energetic, albeit one that also feels disjointed when looked at as whole.
The creative team has stuffed this issue with material, and maybe it’s a bit overstuffed, but the result gives a reader a lot to latch on to. There are plenty of elements drawn from contemporary issues and events, from the aforementioned Brexit campaign to the death of David Bowie to the more general and evergreen examination of mortality and quality of life. Williams and Culbard layer in lots of nice moments and ideas, and then cap off the issue with a scary threat in an evocative setting that features an interesting inversion of a familiar enemy.
The art is a good tonal match with “Doctor Who,” a property that has always been unafraid to embrace a heightened or more exaggerated art style in its history. It captures the look and personality of Smith’s Doctor without opting for a stiff photo-realism style that often drains books of an organic quality. The action is funny and weird and thrilling and moody, just as “Doctor Who” has always been. There are some moments where the detail in the backgrounds drops away, but all in all, the book looks strange and fun and great.
The Eleventh Doctor – Year Three #1 finds Titan continuing its run of interesting and exciting “Doctor Who” titles that capture the feel of the series while still taking advantage of the unlimited boundaries comics can provide. With a strong handle on its tone, and a surplus of big ideas, even this packed to bursting and slightly unwieldily first issue comes off as a strange, scary and exciting success. 8/10
The Eleventh Doctor – Year Three #1 will be released January 4, 2017.