The relaunch of the monthly Doctor Who adventures in America by IDW, or Volume III as some of the solicits have listed the title, have been a pleasant surprise not only for nailing the feel of the Eleventh Doctor and his companions in writing via Andy Diggle (of recent Action Comics controversy) and Brandon T. Seifert (Witch Doctor) , but for also delivering solid comic art via pen and ink experts such as Mark Buckingham and Philip Bond (seriously, that is a pretty impressive comics industry lineup folks). What quickly distinguishes current scribe Joshua Hale Fialkov’s story/pacing from the previous arcs is that he not only makes the interesting decision to have the Doctor companionless (more about that in a moment) but also creates a story that feels as comfortable as watching the series currently on television.
Borrowing from the television series continuity, Fialkov pits the Doctor against the Vashta Nerada, a particle piranha-like entity that menaces universes from time to time. The last time fans of the series saw them as a big bad was in a pivotal moment in series history (see Tenth Doctor episodes “Silence in the Library” and “Forests of the Dead” for more info). While I like Fialkov’s choice for opposition, it is his decision to go without the Ponds as companions (that had been established in the first six issues) that is bold. I find such a choice as a relief, not because I do not like the companions, but that I believe to explore the character of the Doctor more in-depth you need to put him on his own from time to time.
While I like the layouts and page work of Domingues and Ponce (they have some interesting creepy imagery in a few instances), I really thought the color work of Adrian Salmon was better than average. Mainly working off of darker colors, lots of purples and blues, Salmon makes space and being on the dark side of earth in rotation eye catching, both inside and outside of the Tardis and the space capsule in distress. Now I have to add a caveat to that statement, as I read this arc digitally, and I do not know if the level of crispness will translate to print, so choose a delivery system that best suits you. [Stepping on Soapbox] I also want to take a moment to mention that if you look at artists credits that I have listed for the arc, I have included the entire art team, from pen/penciler to inker to colorist to letterer. I have made the decision to include all in future reviews, as for too long I as a reviewer/critic/consumer have only focused on crediting the main listed artist and writer. Comic books are most often, especially in monthlies, a team effort, and success and failure rests on more than one person [Stepping down from Soapbox].
As a franchise, Doctor Who offers many avenues of entry into the universe, both on screen and in print. While I will always gravitate towards the screen version, the creators who have undertaken the comic print adventures (so far) have made a compelling argument for paying attention to their own stamp upon the beloved intrepid traveler.