Over the weekend I needed breakfast cereal, and that meant a trip to the store.
I don’t, however, like buying cereal at the grocery store. I’d much rather go to Big Lots. They have Rice Krispies with Strawberries for two dollars a box. A deal like that? How can I pass that up?
There’s a comic book shop in the Big Lots shopping center in Eldersburg. I’ve gone in the store a few times the past eighteen months, though I’ve rarely bought anything.
To my surprise and delight, on Saturday they had the first issue of IDW’s Doctor Who series.
I’d been looking forward to this. It’s written by Gary Russell, the script-editor on Torchwood and the former produer for Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio line. The artwork was by Nick Roche, an artist with whom I was completely unfamiliar, though I liked the artwork that had been posted online.
The book ran into some shipping snags, apparently. And due to arcane licensing agreements, this first direct-to-comics Doctor Who comic series isn’t available in the UK, the land that gave birth to Doctor Who.
But it finally shipped. And I plucked down my four dollars, and I took it home and petted it and called it “George.”
No. Wait. That makes no sense.
I finally read it yesterday evening. And…
I liked it. Though it is slight.
I’ve seen online a number of complaints about Roche’s artwork, in particular. That he doesn’t do likenesses well, that he doesn’t have the right grasp of Doctor Who. Frankly, I think the complaints are misguided. I really liked Roche’s artwork. That it wasn’t a strict likeness on the Doctor and Martha was an advantage. Roche brought some style and some visual flair to the comic. I thought the artwork fit the “manic” groove that the television series goes for. No argument from me, then, on Nick Roche.
There’s actually nothing wrong with the story. The Doctor and Martha are trans-temporal tourists in search of the perfect chocolate milkshake. And their journey takes them to a space station, where some bad stuff happens.
In some respects, the story doesn’t feel like it belongs in Doctor Who‘s third season. With Mr. Saxon and the Family of Blood and Dalek-Sec and the end of the universe, a search for the perfect milkshake feels like an awkward fit. It’s not tonally right.
Yet! If you look at the opening scenes of “42,” or the bows-and-arrows closing scene of “Blink,” or even the entirety of “The Infinite Quest,” the idea of the Doctor and Martha as trans-temporal tourists isn’t that difficult to fathom. They clearly did knock about on a bit of lark. Hell, “The Shakespeare Code” and “Gridlock” are predicated on the idea that the Doctor is taking Martha on a trip as a bit of a lark.
The dialogue is right. Gary Russell knows his Who; I could “hear” David Tennant and Freema Ageyman behind the lines.
It’s an adequate debut. I didn’t feel cheated out of my four dollars, and it looks fantastic. My hope for the remaining issues of the mini-series is that this won’t turn out to be, essentially, six one-off issues, and that there is a developing storyline that builds toward a grand conclusion. And hopefully a grand conclusion that’s more profound than just Martha saying, “Yep, that is the greatest chocolate milkshake ever!”
Don’t get me wrong — I expect that Martha will find that milkshake. But as a grand conclusion? It’s a little weak.
Supposedly the second issue will be shipping in the next two weeks. And one issue is going to take the Doctor and Martha back to the Year Five Billion milieu — specifically, to the home of Catkind.
I’ll be looking forward to it.