This issue, part one of two of the new adventure “The Eye of Ashaya,” does a very good job of NOT focusing on the Doctor, rather it pushes the story forward with other characters. As this story opens, Amy and Rory, the committed companions, have once again had an unsatisfactory vacation experience. This gag remains something that always is humorous to me (and it has been a recurring one), as it reminds the reader that even having a time traveling, dimension hopping friend like the Doctor who can take you anytime, anywhere never is a guarantee of having a relaxing vacation of any kind. While lamenting in an airport they have an encounter with someone from the Doctor’s past, the Lady Christina De Souza, first introduced in one of the final tenth Doctor stories “The Planet of the Dead.”
De Souza is one of those periphery characters that holds a lot of promise. She is a high-end thief and impressed the Doctor enough that he helped her to escape capture at the end of the one adventure they shared. In thinking about character parallels in the comics world, I would call this one “the Catwoman/Batman” dynamic. For a quick example, De Souza is a charming jewel thief working on the periphery of right and wrong; Selina Kyle/Catwoman is a charming thief working on the periphery of right and wrong. The only thing separating the characters is we have had more access at this point in who Selina is, although that has somehow got muddled up in exploiting sexuality in recent writings and character designs. Of course, she and the Doctor have chemistry but not quite to the extent that (ahem) bats and Selina have. Anyway, before I get too far off track, De Souza has used her time wisely since we last saw her and has been traveling the universe working the grift it seems rather successfully. For this story she, the Doctor, and his companions are crossing paths aboard a luxury star liner that will be witnessing the birth of new stars in a nebula.
The conflict subplot is intriguing, although I don’t think it will be completely fleshed out in two issues (and I will reserve a final verdict of this once the next issue comes out). Essentially, the Doctor will have to help a subjugated race who has been given a death sentence by the universe who are now in a position to decide between what I will assume is a violent revolt or a peaceful solution. This is a common plot in the universe of the Doctor, the working out of conflict between races/species. While it doesn’t always work when it comes time to present conflict resolution, the series in its various media outlets has always tried to enforce racial/inter-species problems as an important subject matter for the Doctor to tackle, and when one weighs that the Doctor is not a biff-bam-pow hero the writing takes a bit more of thought when trying to work out resolutions.
The art by Josh Adams is very generic. There is nothing wrong with this necessarily, but there is no energy to the art, and a sense of energy or even conveying a sense of urgency is important in presenting a Doctor story. Even in a story that is strictly exposition, which this issue is, I would hope that an artist would be allowed to take some chances in presenting the visual information in an interesting or at least entertaining way. Hopefully, the script for the second part of the story will give Adams some confidence to stretch his wings.